Al in a red Invictus Games t-shirt. He is looking straight at the camera smiling. In his left hand he's holding a crossbow . Behind him we can see some archery targets positioned on a green field.

Invictus Games: Al's story

RAF veteran Al had to learn to walk, talk and write again following a severe stroke in 2020. The Invictus Games have helped him go beyond his boundaries by taking on new challenges.

Al had always envisioned a long and fulfilling career in the RAF for himself.

Working as a Master Aircrew, his intention had always been to serve until he was 60 and reach 40 years in the RAF.

I reached 34 years, which I know is something to be proud of, but I wanted 40.
Al as a young man in his RAF uniform. Al and Gina on their wedding day. They are standing in between relatives who are holding two young girls in their arms. A photo of Al standing in front of a white wall. He is wearing his RAF uniform with medals pinned to it. He also has a white rose pinned to his lapel. He looks to be in mid speech.

Unexpected injury

Life changed for Al forever when on 28 February 2020 he suddenly collapsed at work.  

He had suffered a serious stroke and was left unable to speak and paralysed down the right side of his body.  

What followed was a very hard period for Al and his family.  

“Being medically discharged from the RAF was the most difficult time of my life,” he admits. “At the start, my wife Gina had to give me a 20-minute warning if we were leaving the house so I could tie my shoelaces with one hand.”  


Gina, who had married Al only the year before, says: “Immediately after Al had his stroke, the world shut down due to Covid, and so we couldn’t even see him for the first five months, which was so hard, particularly as our twin girls were so young.


“Then it became apparent that the speech problems were causing a barrier between us, and we had to learn how to communicate with each other again. 


“I gave up my job as cabin crew at Manchester Airport to care for him and it has taken a lot of adjustment. It’s been a case of learning how to adapt but we get there.”  


Road to recovery 

Following his injury, Al spent 12 months at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Stanford Hall in an intensive rehab programme.  

“The programme gave me the strength and determination to push myself like I have never pushed myself before,” Al explains.  

“As it was during lockdown, I also had to do this without seeing my family and friends. I still follow the gym programme set by the PT at Stanford Hall in my local gym 3-5 times a week.” 

Al in dressed casually in a hoodie. He is sat next to his wife Gina, also dressed casually, who is taking the selfie. They are boht smiling. They appear to be at home, behind them we can see a chest of drawers with some framed photos on it.
Al with his wife Gina.

After this, he also completed two courses at the RBL’s Battle Back Centre - our facility in Lilleshall that supports wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans.  

And from thereon, the journey towards the Invictus Games seemed only natural.  

“My Resettlement Officer told us about the Invictus Games, so Gina applied on my behalf and I was invited to Nottingham for the pre-selection training camp.  

“I was only planning to do cycling, but I tried out the indoor rowing and the archery.  

“The kids came, too, and they loved it. It gave me a good idea of what it would be like, because I was worried that I might not be able to do it, but the support staff gave me a newfound confidence to try different sports.”


Al in a recumbent bike on a racing track. Behind him we can see another RBL competitor on a different adaptive bike. They are both wearing helmets and RBL t-shirts.
Al in a recumbent bike during Invictus Games training.

Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023

When he found out he’d been selected to compete as part of Team UK at the Invictus Games Düsseldorf, Al felt both “delighted and overwhelmed”.  

More about Team UK
Al in a recumbent bike during Invictus Games training.

“In my head, I didn’t think I would be good enough. But the RBL has such belief in me, and that means everything. It’s like winning the lottery.”

Al will be competing in cycling, rowing, table tennis and archery; using his mouth to control the bow.

He’s already enjoying the wide range of benefits that being a Team UK competitor is bringing to his life.

Al sat in a recumbent bike on a racing track. He is in a resting position with his hands propped on his legs.He is wearing a navy RBL Team UK t-shirt and has a helmet on.
Al at an Invictus Games training camp

“I have made new friendships and I’m once again enjoying the banter that being part of a team brings. I work hard every day on my recovery from exercising to weekly speech therapy.  

“Being part of Team UK is giving me a purpose and a plan to take my recovery to a whole new level.  

“It has given me an opportunity to try sports that I didn't think were possible with my disability, and for that I am extremely grateful.” 

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