War veteran ready for Invictus Games challenge

A former air force paramedic will serve her country once more after being picked in the Great Britain team for the Invictus Games.

Thursday, 15th June 2017, 2:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 3:22 pm
The opening ceremony of the 2016 Invictus Games

Michelle Partington, from Hindley, will jet out to Canada to join more than 550 servicemen and women competing in sport after being left sick, injured or wounded through their time in uniform.

Michelle’s stint in the Royal Air Force (RAF) saw her make British history as the first female paramedic to work on the front line in Afghanistan, as well as becoming a flight lieutenant.

However, her work in the armed forces also left her with severe hidden wounds as she found herself battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following her three gruelling tours of duty.

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Michelle Partington, who is going to the Invictus Games with GB

She credits the Invictus Games with totally transforming her outlook and is now looking forward to competing in the powerlifting and rowing events on the other side of the pond in September.

Michelle said: “The Invictus Games has saved my life.

“I am now in a position where I want to take my life to the next level, not contemplate whether I take my life.

“It has given me confidence and just training with ex-military men and women has helped me enormously.”

Michelle Partington, who is going to the Invictus Games with GB

Intriguingly Michelle’s choice of events could bring her up against the GB squad’s other Wiganer, 38-year-old sergeant Michelle Turner who was also in the RAF.

Sgt Turner will also be competing in the rowing event as well as taking the plunge in the swimming competition.

Michelle Partington suffered with social isolation after departing the forces and two years ago was unable to leave her home.

However, she turned things around through sheer will and determination to get to the Invictus Games and battled through the qualifying events to gain a place on the GB squad.

She also got to meet Prince Harry, who set up the Invictus Games after attending the similar Warrior Games for veterans in America, on the day the Great Britain squad was announced and unveiled to the media.

The UK is one of 17 nations heading to Toronto for the 2017 edition of the Games - the third such event - with individual athletes and teams battling it out in a dozen different sports over a week of intense competition.

Michelle has also become known online for writing a candid blog about her own experiences and has now founded her charity the Behind the Mask Mental Health Foundation which encourages people to speak openly about the illnesses.

The Invictus Games takes place between September 23 and September 30.

Any veteran who is affected by PTSD or would like to speak to someone about it can call Combat Stress’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 138 1619.