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Posted on Mar 22 2024 by Fiona Bailey

A former Army medic who sustained nerve damage from a bomb blast while serving in Afghanistan is limbering up for a gruelling 60 mile bike ride for charity.

Martha Prinsloo, who has been receiving treatment for complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with St Andrew’s Healthcare’s Veteran Service, has signed up to participate in the 2024 Ford RideLondon event on Sunday, May 26, 2024.

The 38-year-old, who lost some of her mobility and part of her sight after surviving the explosion, is taking part to raise money for the Invictus Games, which she competed in last year.

She said: “This 60-mile bike ride is going to challenge me on so many different levels; physically as it will be a huge challenge for my body to endure, but also mentally as it’s no mean feat telling yourself you will be riding for a number of hours without much rest. But this is what we do, we challenge ourselves and through these challenges we discover more of our capabilities which allows us to build on our resilience. 

“I am determined to finish the race so I can show others what is possible when you put your mind to something. I really want to inspire fellow veterans to go out and try something new, so that even those with life-changing injuries can still make a huge impact.”

Martha is continuing with her mental recovery journey after her army experience left her with significant PTSD symptoms which eventually led to her wanting to end her life.

The explosion occurred in 2013 when Martha was travelling in a vehicle while on tour, and she was “blown up into the air” after driving over an improvised explosive device (IED).

Although after the blast she initially seemed unharmed, the impact eventually caught up with her during a nursing shift in 2017. It was while she was treating a patient that she went temporarily completely blind – with the blindness staying permanently in one eye. Since then though, she has come a very long way in terms of her recovery.

Martha said: “When I look back at how far I’ve come, I still can’t believe it. If you had told me five years ago that I would be training to take part in a 60-mile bike race, I would never have believed you. I am externally grateful to the team from St Andrew’s for all the support and treatment they have given me. I now have hope for my future, and however hard this is to admit - at some of my lowest moments I just didn’t think I had a future.”

Catherine Vichare, Clinical Director of the Community Partnership team which oversees Op COURAGE, the NHS veterans referral programme which works with St Andrew’s Healthcare, said: “Martha is one inspirational young woman. When we first met she was in a very dark place as she was overwhelmed with delayed trauma from her experiences in Afghanistan.

“We started to work together, unpicking all her trauma, slowly and surely reliving some of the experiences and finding a way which allows Martha to come to terms with everything she’s been through. It’s been a long and bumpy journey for her, but we gave her hope for her future. She’s still undergoing treatment, but she’s out there now with a smile on her face, signing up to these challenges which frankly astounds me.

“When I look at how far she has come and how she continues to move forward, I really am so proud of her. Martha truly is a beacon of hope for all veterans who feel like there’s no hope – there is, and Martha is living proof of that.”

Martha is hoping to raise more than £1,000 for the Invictus Games charity from her bike ride. If anyone would like to donate, click here.