Naomi Adie was medically discharged from the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 2014 due to a spinal injury and is using sport as a way to overcome her mental and physical challenges.
Naomi (38) lives in Holme Hale, Norfolk, with husband Stephen (42) and daughter Vesta (9) and will represent United Kingdom at the Invictus Games 2018 thanks to the support of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAF Association).
Having joined the RAF in 2000 as a survival equipment fitter, which included training pilots to ditch safely into the water, Naomi suffered an injury during training which got progressively worse over time, resulting in her premature discharge.
“I hurt my spine in 2001 but I still participated in two tours of Afghanistan. Unfortunately my conditioned worsened and it became too much to carry on and has resulted in me being reliant on a wheelchair to get about sometimes.”
Naomi represented the RAF’s field hockey team between 2002 and 2008. She took up Para ice hockey, travelling one and a half hours to Peterborough to train each week, her aim was to represent United Kingdom at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada.
Unfortunately the sport was not represented at the games but she continues to play for Peterborough and GB Women. Naomi has now switched her focus to wheel chair racing. She said: “I was disappointed that Para ice hockey was left out of the previous games but had it not been, I may not have discovered a love for racing and have the chance to compete in Sydney. I felt it was important to confront some of my anxieties and insecurities and by selecting a solo sport, I have done just that.”
Naomi continued: “I have been asked to captain the athletics team at the games which is an immense honour for myself and my family.”
The Invictus Games are for wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans. Over 500 competitors from 18 nations will compete in 11 adaptive sports in Sydney, Australia between 20 and 27 of October 2018.
The RAF Association has supported Naomi’s transition from active service by providing funding for Static racing rollers.
The rollers allow athletes to train indoors when the weather outside is unsuitable and is often used as a tool to warm up and warm down at race events.
She said: “The rollers are invaluable to me, I am unable to train outdoors when it’s raining as the rubber doesn’t grip the gloves and it can be very dangerous. All the top athletes have rollers so I am really thankful to be supported by the RAF Association.”
Rory O’Connor, Director of Welfare and Policy at the RAF Association, said: “When we heard of Naomi’s story we were very keen to help her.
“We will be cheering Naomi on when she competes at the Invictus Games and wish her the best of luck.”
Looking to the future, Naomi is aiming to become a classified athlete for wheelchair racing and Para ice hockey and has ambitions to coach people in a similar position to herself.
“It has taken a lot of grit and determination to get where I am today. I have set myself a goal and put my all into it. It’s important to show my daughter, by striving for success, that mummy can achieve something despite my physical limitations. I want her to see the person not the disability or injury and this journey is helping with that.’’
For more information about the RAF Association visit www.rafa.org.uk.
Notes to editors:
Contact Joseph Doyle, PR Assistant, RAF Association – 0116 268 8755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Royal Air Forces Association:
The Royal Air Forces Association (or RAF Association) is a membership organisation and registered charity that provides welfare support to the RAF family.
The Association recognises that RAF personnel and their immediate families dedicate their lives to their country, and we believe that such a sacrifice should not result in suffering, poverty or loneliness.
Whether it’s an injured airman or woman fighting to get back on their feet, a young child missing their parent away on overseas operations, or a World War II veteran needing a shoulder to lean on, we are here to help all generations of RAF personnel and their families. We also support serving families if they need us. We give practical, emotional and financial support.
Our membership of more than 72,000 includes serving RAF personnel, veterans and members of the public who want to show their support for the work that we do.
Across the UK in 2017 the Association carried out more than 115,000 welfare contacts, calls and visits, helped tell thousands of bedtime stories to children whose parents were away on operations, and gave tailored holidays to 2,500 RAF veterans, widows and family at our Wings Breaks hotels. Our support ranges from simply providing conversation and friendship to preparing and submitting application forms for financial assistance.
Charity numbers: 226686 (England and Wales), SCO37673 (Scotland).