Cricket is in my blood!
From the age of 5 I used to follow my Dad around the Lake District playing for our local team. During and after each game I would play on the side lines with friends and at the age of 12 after a senior game, I bowled to the Burnley and Wales football legend Leighton James (he was captain of the 1 st team at the time). I bowled to him over and over and he was so impressed he picked me for the under 16s. Figures of 2-4 off 4 overs including 3 drop catches, life was great!
Fast forward 4 years, my parents separated and the strain that was put on my life was hard. Looking for a way out I joined the military at 17, however I was immediately told I would not make it passed basic training and I was destined to fail. Proving people wrong I passed out of RAF Halton in November 2002 and my RAF career began. A few years down the line I started receiving unsupportive messages and phone calls from a family-members, people who I thought were supposed to care for me unconditionally. Unable to deal with the consequences, I needed to find a way to take the pain away, so I started self-harming. The self-inflicted pain was taking away the emotional pain put on me by my family.
I carried on self-harming from the age of 18-22 and as a result the RAF downgraded me and suggested discharge, I knew I needed to stop! Trying to turn things around I represented the RAF at cricket on and off, however I missed the routine of regular training and game play where representing my hometown every Saturday, which was something I truly missed. With that in mind, after moving to Yorkshire which for a Lancastrian was somewhere, I wasn’t best pleased to be, I contacted Northallerton Cricket Club to request a try out. After a successful try out I was selected, and I started training and playing every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
At this stage in my life I felt amazing and my confidence was growing. I was selected as captain and concurrently completed my Level 2 coaching badge followed by the workshop and video analysis. In Jan 2017 my life hit rock bottom and I decided an overdose was the only way for people to be happy without me being in the picture. At this stage I struggled to function and understand who I was and where I was going. Fast forward 4 months without any support or nobody I felt I could talk to I took another overdose, which resulted in me being hospitalised. After this I finally reached out to my friends which helped considerably and help me process the pain I was feeling.
Throughout this period, I managed to deploy to Afghanistan on 7 occasions and Iraq 4 times. I even played cricket in the middle of Kandahar Airfield, a very proud moment in my life. In December 2020, I started to struggle and feel myself go down that path after spending the festive period on my own due to various circumstances. Having previously experienced these emotions, I understood reaching out helps you take control of the situation and stops you going down that path. Trying to stay positive and think of the next step, I submitted my interest in Level 3 coaching (advanced cricket coaching) and took the role of captain again this season.
You will not understand the feeling of reaching out and focusing on something you enjoy until you really need it the most. I can honestly say that Cricket in a way gave me something to focus on and helped save my life. I was embarrassed to talk to someone about how I was feeling, I have now completed a Mental First Aid course and my phone is always on for anyone to contact me no matter what.