47 year old Jamie Weller from Nottingham, who recently brought home four bronze medals from this year’s Invictus Games, is taking on a new challenge. The former Navy Aircraft Engineer trekked for 13 days across Nepal on this extreme and once in a life time challenge to reach the base of Mount Everest. The challenge was organised by and raised money for Help for Heroes (H4H).
When Jamie lost his central vision he lost more than just the majority of his eyesight. He lost the ability to pursue his dream of a life in the military. As Jamie tried to rebuild his life and adjust to his disability anxiety and depression set in. He was determined to not let it beat him though and used his love of sport to regain his positive outlook on life.
Jamie, who competed in running and cycling, said: “At the Invictus Games in Toronto I met lots of athletes with different injuries; some who had lost limbs. It makes you appreciate what you’ve got as I can still run and cycle. I don’t like to use the word ‘disability’ but instead focus on the ability that we have. I always see my sight loss as an inconvenience. It challenges me to solve the problems and then I get on with my life. But for me it’s really important to help educate people to see the ability and not the disability in people.
Jamie Weller is a real Force for Good as he continues to empower other wounded, injured and sick veterans to unleash their potential: “I was devastated when I lost my sight but I’ve set out to not let it beat me. I hope that the way I’ve approached the loss of my sight, which is still an everyday challenge, helps inspire others”.
The trek started out from Lukla with the route taking the group to Phakding and Namche where they had their first glimpse of Mount Everest. After a day’s acclimatisation they walked from Dingboche via Tengboche to the base of the world’s highest mountain. After returning to Gorak Shep the group made their way back to Lukla finishing up in Kathmandu. The trek supplied endless epic panoramas.
Jamie said about the trek: “It was one hell of a tough trek, one hell of a life experience. We climbed to over 5500m to the magic of Mount Everest. You should not under estimate the danger of being at altitude. This place is horrid yet so magical. I take my hat off to anyone who climbs to the top. I am so proud that I made it up and back down as the terrain and altitude was so tough for me and I am so exhausted now”.
“As I’m visually impaired my brain and muscles were working extra hard to stop me from falling over. Having no central vision, I have no perception of depth so I had to feel my way across the tough rocky terrain using my walking sticks, feet and help from friends on the trek with me. This meant that my level of concentration while trekking was working overtime to make sure I did not fall and injure myself. This had a cumulative effect and I was exhausted after the trek but I kept pressing on and did not give up”.
He continued: “Everyone around me really helped though; not just guiding me but explaining some of the wonderous sights. Another Band of Brother, Toney Boylce from Durham, was particularly helpful. I really ached and became quite fatigued at one point. The doctor advised me to rest but instead of getting a helicopter out the locals hired a horse for me to use for a few days. I think they were just as determined as I was to complete the trek! I got a little altitude sickness but I was able to control it with painkillers.”
Jamie has set up a Just Giving page and has so far raised £4,257 for H4H. He explained why he wanted to support the Charity: “Help for Heroes has been part of my recovery journey since I joined the Band of Brothers fellowship network in 2014. The opportunities they’ve given me through their sports recovery programme has led to me skiing with the Armed Forces Para Snow Sports Team and representing Great Britain at the Invictus Games. It’s really helped me to regain my confidence and experience the benefits of being around other like-minded people. More important to me though is that I’m hoping that the challenges I have had in dealing with sight loss will benefit them in their personal recovery journeys. I strongly believe that it’s not always about what you have achieved but how you have helped others achieve in life. For me I’m super proud to be part of this trek and raising funds for a great charity that changes people’s lives.
You can sponsor Jamie here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jamie-weller1
If you want to join The Force for Good movement and take part in this epic fundraiser then you can find more information here about the 2081 trek: https://helpforheroes.org.uk/give-support/challenges/everest-base-camp/