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Former Army medic Martha Prinsloo from Grantham gears up for London bike ride in aid of Invictus Games

A former army medic is gearing up for an extraordinary challenge - a 60-mile bike ride in support of charity.

Martha Prinsloo, from Grantham, sustained nerve damage while serving in Afghanistan and has been receiving treatment for complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with St Andrew’s Healthcare’s Veteran Service.

Despite this, she has signed up to a 60-mile bike ride at the 2024 Ford RideLondon event on Sunday, May 26.

Martha is busy training on her bike.
Martha is busy training on her bike.

After sustaining partial blindness from a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2013, Martha's life took a dramatic turn.

It wasn't until four years later, during her nursing training, that the extent of her injuries became apparent when she suddenly lost vision in one eye.

Diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she found solace and support through St Andrew’s Healthcare’s Veteran Service.

Martha said: “This 60-mile bike ride is going to challenge me on so many different levels.

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“Physically, it will be a huge test for my body, but also mentally as it demands sustained focus and endurance. 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.”

Her motivation, however, extends beyond personal triumph.

“I am determined to finish the race so I can show others what is possible when you put your mind to something,” she said. “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 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.”

Despite the tremendous strides made, Martha's journey is far from over.

She continues to navigate her mental health recovery while pursuing meaningful challenges.

With her sights set on raising £300 for the Invictus Games charity, Martha invites the community to rally behind her cause. Donations can be made by visiting here.

In 2023, Martha secured a spot in the Invictus Games, thanks in no small part to her loyal companion, Daisy.

The Invictus Games, which took place in Düsseldorf, Germany, in September, were hosted by Prince Harry, and Martha represented her country in swimming, archery, and powerlifting.

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