My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Steve’s bond with military powers his fundraising road to recovery

A building society worker from Pontypridd, whose career in the military was halted before it could even start, owing to a serious work-related injury, has defied medical opinion to compete in September’s Ironman Tenby to raise much-needed funds for Help for Heroes.

At 25, Steve Bond had an accident at work which saw him receive nine fractures in his left knee and, just a few weeks ahead of his assessment to join the Army, his hopes of joining the military were in tatters. A keen athlete and fitness enthusiast, he was also told his running days were over.

Now aged 37, Bond explained: “It wasn’t even the first time I’d tried to join up. First time I ended up working for my uncle when I was training but contracted dermatitis, so that was the first block. I tried to join at another time, but I was too heavy. They were very focused on BMI at that time.

“I got myself really fit and healthy, off of all the medicines for my hands, then tried to join the RAF in the interim and it turned out I was too colour blind for any of the roles I wanted. Finally, I got myself sorted, but a week before I was meant to go, I ended up falling off a roof. I was told I’d be lucky to be able to jog properly again, let alone run any kind of distance.”

Yet, 11 years and two surgeries on from the accident, he and his now partner, Welsh international athlete Lucy Marland, went to spectate for the day at Ironman 22, in Tenby. It proved to be a pivotal moment in Bond’s life and the catalyst for his return to running.

He explained: “I thought every person in that race was amazing for even getting to the start line and I fantasised about doing it myself. Then I saw a man running the marathon portion on crutches and had an overwhelming sense of humility.

“I decided then that the excuses I’d made for myself for getting out of shape, and thinking I couldn’t achieve physical goals, were over. I registered my interest a week or two later and I was in, giving me a year to train for the hardest physical and mental race I’d ever enter … maybe,” he smiled.

“That was about 11 months ago. I’ve been working with Lucy, who’s a running coach and nutritionist, too. She’s put me in contact with a local physiotherapist, sports massage therapist, and so on, and everything’s going well with focused rehab.

“I just enjoy pushing myself and thumbing my nose at anybody who tells me ‘you can’t do that’. I enjoy proving people wrong when it comes to my physical and mental capabilities. When I see what other people have overcome that inspires me; I want to be a person who overcomes adversity rather than admitting defeat.

“I want to see what I’m capable of and I won’t rest on my laurels. I’m already looking at ultra-marathons.”

A keen fundraiser, Bond decided to raise money for Help for Heroes because of military affiliations in his own extended family. His father served for 22 years, initially as a Queen’s Royal Irish Hussar and then as a Queen’s Royal Hussar, and Lucy’s father, Phil – an elite athlete in his own right earlier in his life – spent close to 40 years in the military, serving with the Devon and Dorsets before being medically discharged.

“Phil’s a big inspiration to me,” added Bond. “He used to run, cycle and participate in triathlons competitively, but now has limited mobility following his career in the military. Yet, he gets on a static bike each day to get his physical exercise, supports his local Park Run group every weekend, and uses his own experience to guide Lucy and me with our triathlons.

“He’s been supported by Help for Heroes, and that solidified my desire to raise funds for the charity.

“Many friends I’d known growing up went on to serve in the forces. I also have a large family, many of whom have served, primarily in the Army: cousins, uncles, and grandparents. I am surrounded by ex-servicemen and women.

“Regrettably, some have left the services with wounds or injuries of varying kinds. Whether mental or physical, visible or not, and it’s unfortunate their needs are not always met or understood by some support systems.

“But Help for Heroes offers a vital service in that effort. If the monies I raise help just one veteran live a fuller, happier, more successful and fulfilling life after service, it will all be worth it.”

He concluded: “I decided that, since I am training for a year, and will do so many things along the way like triathlons and half marathons, why not commit a year of challenges and training to this fantastic charity.

“I’ve called it Road to Ironman. The point I’ve tried to make to family, friends and colleagues, is that everything I’ve done and continue to do, between September last year and September this year, is not just about training but also to raise money and awareness for the charity. I want people to see the journey I’m going on and why I’m doing it.”

Rhys Edwards, Help for Heroes’ Area Fundraising Manager, said: “Steve is an incredibly resilient guy and is an inspiration in himself. Not only has he recovered from a horrific injury he’s also rebuilt his life after losing practically everything after his accident. That he chooses to think of others and raise much needed funds for Help for Heroes is awe-inspiring. Thank you, Steve.”

Help for Heroes champions the Armed Forces community and helps them live well after service. The charity helps them, and their families, to recover and get on with their lives. It has already supported more than 30,000 people and won’t stop until every veteran gets the support they deserve.

The Charity supports veterans from any branch of the UK military – regulars or reserves – irrespective of length or place of service, and locally embedded civilians (and their families) who worked alongside our Armed Forces.

To donate to Steve Bond’s fundraising efforts, please visit justgiving.com/fundraising/RoadtoIMTenby23. If you’re in need of support, visit helpforheroes.org.uk.