Wiganer named 'woman of the year' at military awards ceremony
A former RAF paramedic and veteran of the Invictus Games has been recognised for her extraordinary journey with two major awards
Michelle Partington, from Hindley Green, took home the special accolade for overcoming adversity and the overall prize as Woman of the Year at the Women in Defence Awards.
Ex-flight lieutenant Michelle was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2012 and at one point was struggling so badly in civvy street she was barely able to leave her house due to panic attacks.
However, she battled back through the international sports competition for wounded warriors, serving as an ambassador for the GB team at the most recent Invictus Games in Sydney, and has also founded her own business Mentis Training and Consultancy specialising in mental health and first aid workshops.
She pronounced herself stunned at picking up the two massive prizes from the glamorous ceremony at the Imperial War Museum, where defence secretary Gavin Williamson presented her with her awards.
Michelle, 46, said: “It was totally unexpected and I was gobsmacked. I was totally shocked because the number of people in there who were worthy winners as well was phenomenal.
“I feel very humbled, honoured and blessed. It still hasn’t quite hit home.
“For me the special award was like coming full circle. I left the military but then struggled and now I’ve been rewarded for getting better by the military. It’s a bit bizarre really but an honour to be recognised. I’m now turning it on its head and making a positive out of it by helping other people.”
As Woman of the Year, Michelle will work with Women in Defence to raise the profile of women in the military and related industries, saying she is looking forward to getting involved as it is an issue she feels very strongly about.
She is now concentrating on Mentis but says she would also like to stay involved with Invictus, even though she no longer competes to give other wounded soldiers the opportunities she has had.
She said: “The business is hectic already. I’m doing workplace assessments as well as workshops. I feel the need to help raise awareness of mental health.
“When I was ill I didn’t understand what was going on and had family and friends who stepped back because they didn’t understand either.
“It’s still quite a taboo subject and it shouldn’t be.
“I want it to be educational so people won’t walk away from people in their lives and conversations can happen instead.
“There isn’t another Invictus Games now until 2020 but as an ambassador I’m involved in the planning.
“It was different being on the other side from competing in Sydney but it was really good to see the team members finish the journey I went on last year.
“The purpose of Invictus is to develop and move on and I’ve done that so for me to take the place away from somebody else would have been wrong.”
For more details about Michelle’s business visit www.mentistrainingandconsultancy.com