Georgina Smith

Joining the RAF as a Personnel Support specialist in 1998, my career has seen me assigned all over the UK and deployed on Operations around the world including; Falkland Islands, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

I have been employed in many roles from welfare, VIP, Policy, pay & personnel, training and education to recruitment. Throughout my career I have always enjoyed sport and adventure training and try to challenge myself physically, from skiing to kayaking; parachuting to netball and hockey. A diverse trade, I have enjoyed every moment of my service to date.

In 2015, I was at a training unit in Winchester delivering Personnel Support training to Army and RAF recruits. During this assignment an Army colleague noticed my walking had changed and notified me of this, as I was still active and felt no pain I carried on as usual. Approximately a month later, the same colleague had filmed me walking and the deterioration was evident and at that point I sought medical advice. The medical centre sent me straight to hospital and after being immediately admitted, five days later I was diagnosed with MS.

This led to a dark time in my career and personal life. I imagined that my career would be over, my children would suffer from my potential physical deterioration and that the sport and activities opportunities I’d always enjoyed would be taken away from me as an option.

I pushed through the first few months in a haze of uncertainty, but then looking at my children and understanding MS better I decided to fight and manage the illness rather than succumb to it. This led me to the charity Help for Heroes who offered me opportunities on their Sports Recovery program, designed to help serving and veterans with illness and disability find, use and manage sport as part of their recovery and lifestyle. I was invited to try powerlifting, a sport I never considered being the size I am and found it not only helped with my new balance issues but gave me strength and a new family socially. I have competed in the Military World Champs overseas and in the UK and positioned third, twice in deadlift. Last year I captained the UK Warrior Games team in Tampa, Florida; competing in seven sports and achieving four silver and two bronze medals.

Whilst I was discovering ways to manage MS through sport and adaptive adventure training, I received a medical decision by the RAF that they would retain me in service. Since 2015, I have been promoted to Sergeant, received an extension of service and become an advocate for those with Chronic Conditions and Disability in Defence in the RAF.