Sara’s story: I realised art could be a way for me to communicate

After she suffered a life-changing brain injury, our award-winning recovery through the arts programme helped Sara get back out into the world again.  

Sara joined the RAF in 1999, following in her dad’s footsteps to become a Personnel Support Officer.   

She enjoyed her work greatly, finding joy in the variety and the camaraderie amongst the people she worked with: “I loved the fact you worked, lived, played with awesome people. It doesn’t matter how bad the job can be, it’s all about the people.”  

A self-portrait created by Sara

Life changing injury

In 2014, Sara’s life changed forever when she suddenly suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm.

A self-portrait created by Sara

This resulted in her having to live every day with uncontrollable epilepsy and speech difficulties, alongside other effects from a brain injury including cognitive effects, memory problems and neuro fatigue.  

“They sent me to Headley Court for initial rehab. They treated me for approximately six months, trying to get me better, but obviously they couldn’t keep me there forever. 

“Eventually I was medically discharged in 2017.”  

The Art of Recovery

Sara first found out about Bravo 22, our award-winning recovery through the arts programme for the Armed Forces community, when she reached out to the Royal British Legion for support.  

 “In the military we’re taught to 'just get on with it', so I actually found asking the RBL for help one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

 “I remember they told me that Bravo 22 were doing a project in the area and asked whether I wanted to take part. I initially said no, 'why would I want to do art?' but then I thought ‘what else am I going to do?'

 “It was the best thing I’ve ever done.”   

The first course Sara took part in was called the ‘Art of Recovery’ in 2016, where participants were asked to model their own bodies out of wire.  

Sara’s sculpture was modelled on her body and showed a crouched over figure with a metal plate in the head, representative of the titanium plate Sara had fitted to protect her brain. 


"For the first time since my brain exploded, it made me come to terms with my injury."

The course allowed me to look at my injury and its effects on me and my family. I did a lot of crying!

Involvement in the RBL’s LGBTQ+ and Allies branch 

Sara’s connection to the RBL didn’t stop there, and in 2019 she found a further opportunity to get herself back out into the world by becoming a founding member of the RBL’s LGBTQ+ and Allies branch. 


The branch publicly launched on 12 January 2019, exactly 19 years after the lifting of the ban on homosexuality in the military, with Sara being one of the 15 people present at the 2018 formation meeting.  


“Nobody out there in the veteran community was doing the same thing as us,” says Sara “and we needed looking after too.”


LGBTQ+ & Allies Branch

Join the RBL family and take pride in supporting the Armed Forces community.
Join RBL
sara image smaller

“I joined because I understand that there are people who need that help. I wasn’t comfortable coming out in the Armed Forces initially, in fact I was honestly never comfortable.  


“I’m happy with who I am now, but I didn’t use to be.” 


A brighter future


“Opening the door to the Royal British Legion to ask for help was the hardest thing I’ve ever done” says Sara.  

“Bravo 22 means that we can open that door in other ways – be it through art, theatre, wellbeing courses. It makes seeking help easier.” 

As for the LGBTQ+ and Allies branch, Sara believes that the future holds “brilliant things” in store. 

“We’ve had difficulties in the past, for example with COVID, around getting the message out, because we couldn’t get out there and say ‘Hey, we’re here for you.’ 

“But we’ve overcome those obstacles. 

“And now that people are becoming more and more open about who they are, there will be a growing need for the branch in order to meet that demand.” 

Back to top

Discover more