Afghanistan veteran with medals and child
15 May 2013

SAC Fiona gets on her bike for Ollie and Norton House

SAC Fiona is cycling 125 miles to give something back to SSAFA.

SAC Fiona gets on her bike for Ollie and Norton House

SAC Fiona Chandler is preparing for a big challenge – a 125 mile bike ride from RAF Northolt to Tedworth House via Headley Court to raise money so that SSAFA can continue to support our Forces and their families. Fiona, who is 25 is an Air Cartographer for the RAF, has roped in ten fellow Service Personnel from No1 AIDN (the Aeronautical Information Documents Unit) at RAF Northolt where she is based to accompany her on her gruelling ride on 20th June. The team has so far raised almost £2000.

Fiona has a very particular reason for wanting to take on this tough physical test. In May 2012 her partner SAC Ollie Cole, who is a Flight Operator in the RAF, was diagnosed with a tumour in his spinal cord.

Ollie, who is 28, was operated on at St George’s Hospital in Tooting and has been unable to walk since. He underwent gruelling physiotherapy there and at the Salisbury Spinal Unit until coming to Headley Court in October 2012 for further rehabilitation.

Fiona says: "Ollie has improved so much since the operation and is now able to stand for short periods of time with the help of a standing frame. Headley Court is also helping him to take his first steps since the operation with the help of a bespoke calliper."

It was Ollie’s social worker who informed the couple about SSAFA Norton House and its facilities.

"He needed somewhere to stay when he was not on admission at Headley Court and Norton House meant that he had somewhere to relax and recuperate and was also somewhere we could relax together as a couple."

Fiona says: "Norton House is an amazing facility and provides us with the opportunity to relax together when Ollie is not on admission. The house is very rarely empty which goes to show how popular and useful it is to family and friends of those sick or injured. The house became a second home to us during the time we had there – it provides us with a bit of normality in a very abnormal situation."

Fiona is full of praise for those involved with Norton House. She says: "I’d recommend the house to others in a similar situation to us. It is a respite from the hectic lifestyle that our sick and injured now have to cope with. We would like to thank SSAFA for the help and kindness shown to us and especially the staff at Norton House Headley Court."

Talking of the bike ride ahead of her she says: "It’s one way of giving back to such an amazing facility like Norton House."

The cycle event takes place on 20 June 2013. Visit Fiona and the team's fundraising page to show your support: