I was really excited to have the founders from Team Fortitude agree to a quick interview to highlight what is an amazing cause and one which I believe need more attention, over to you ladies
Guys, tell us a little about you?
Sabrina: My name is Sabrina Waterhouse and I was born in Shropshire. When I’m not working I’m usually found on social media for Team Fortitude, Making plans and trying to motivate people to come and join us in making a difference! With any other time that there is left, I am getting back to fit… or trying too! I am really focused and determined to make a difference where I can, and to inspire people. I would love to motivate people into joining us in getting out of their comfort zones and achieve something that they didn’t think was possible. The feeling that you get out of that is incredible and can spark more changes in your life. With Team Fortitude, you get all of that good feeling but with the bonus of knowing that you have helped people that have put their lives on the line for our safety and security. Which is not only a motivational tool but a boost too. There are so many mental health attributes for getting physical and getting outside and out of your comfort zone!
Laura (Millington) : Originally Shropshire born and bred, I was brought up in an environment where the outdoors, craft, creativity and helping others were the main focus. At 16, I moved to Ireland on a gap year after my GCSE’s and ended up staying over there for almost 19 years. During my time I was lucky enough to continue volunteering and raising funds for various charities and organisations. Some of which I was part of the fundraising board for, along with being team leader for a few different Counties with the Make a Wish Foundation. Raising money is something I’m passionate about, along with giving back my time to help others. I came across Rock 2 Recovery on twitter around September of 2016, and decided I really wanted to help. Due to the creative approach of their coaching, coupled with the fact my Dad was a Royal Marine, it seemed to be a perfect fit. Since then I’ve been blessed to get to know so many people in the team that would not have otherwise crossed my path, and to do so whilst raising funds is just a bonus!
Outside of team Fortitude I’m currently still trying to find my feet settling back to Life in the UK, which is harder than first thought! And by the end of the year I’m hoping my fitness is greatly improved after following our PTI Tom Merrimans training plan, my Swedish is at conversational level, and the violin I got for my birthday is actually pleasant for others to listen too.
For those who don’t know what is Team Fortitude and how, when did it start?
Team Fortitude started on January 1st 2016 on Twitter. The initial idea was to have 100 people join us at one specified event, and 15 minutes before the New Year Bells rang, there was a tweet by our first team member Graeme Walker, saying he was going to do a Tough Mudder. So we cheekily just asked if he’d join us. And the rest is history. Within half an hour, we had 15 people interested, but all were taking part in different events at various locations across the Country, so one event was no longer viable
Team Fortitude (www.teamfortitude.co.uk) was set up with the sole aim of raising funds for Rock 2 Recovery. R2R is an amazing organization that works with servicemen/women/veterans and their families affected by PTSD/MBTI’s. They literally save and change lives everyday, and it is a privilege to support them. For more information on the work that they do, please visit (www.rock2recovery.co.uk)
What were the very early days like? What challenges did you face? When did you realize it might just work?
The early days were extremely hard work but very rewarding from the get go. Literally overnight it become a full time ‘job’ for each of us. Within the space of a month we had 2 social media accounts to look after, a website to update and maintain and an email address. There were also around 50 team members on board with us at that early stage, so keeping on top of the questions, donation links, social media enquiries, event details, sponsorship cards, personalized posters etc. on top of full time jobs, it was all consuming. I (Laura) was lucky enough to have a job that allowed for me to spend quite a bit of time during the day to keep things ticking over until home time. After work then, myself and Sabrina would divide and conquer the to do list, and spend a minimum of 3 hours every night, almost every night for a year making sure Team Fortitude was a success. Weekends would then be spent building and maintaining the database, designing t-shirts, planning fundraisers, updating individual fundraising totals and donor lists and generally making sure our team mates were happy and had all the tools necessary to succeed in their fundraising efforts.
We are extremely lucky to possess complimentary skillsets. Sabrina is brilliant with technology, so learnt as we went along to build our website. Where as I love being organised, making plans and keeping the spreadsheets updated. This made it very easy to ensure all the tasks were done in a timely manner. Alongside this, we both continued to learn social media skills as we went along!
The two biggest challenges we faced were time, and location. There wasn’t enough time in the day to keep on top of everything, so our social circles suffered slightly, but we were both in agreement that Team fortitude was THE single most important thing, and dedicated all our free time to working on it. Being based on the West Coast of Ireland at the time of being set up wasn’t ideal. We couldn’t really tell anyone we were building a fundraising community for the Royal Marines, therefore it made our own personal fundraising goals harder to reach. Location also meant that we weren’t able to get to many events, but where possible we booked time off work and flew over. It was amazing to meet people for the first time, as it felt like they were old school friends. A lot of team members share that same feeling, it’s definitely not like you are meeting strangers that you met via social media!
The moment we realized it may just work, was when money started to come in via the website. I remember one specific day where 2 team members shared their donation links, and Rock 2 Recovery’s Commercial Director, Robin, rang to ask if there was an error on our website as almost £2000 came in within one day
How did you both get involved, was it at the same time ?-
Myself and Laura are sisters, and Team Fortitude was created whilst spending New Years Eve together in the house. Originally, Laura had contacted Jamie back in October about the possibility of us helping them to run one big fundraiser, however, it some became apparent that one big event was turning into many more. I think that it works well as we both know what the other is thinking and share a common goal for Team Fortitude.
What does being involved mean to you personally?
Laura: I am personally honoured to be raising funds and awareness for Rock 2 Recovery, supporting the life saving work that they do, as my Dad was a proud Royal Marine (now a Veteran). To be supporting R2R, means we get to provide help for our Countries bravest Men and Women. Our Armed Forces put their lives on the line for us, and they deserve the best possible care and opportunities when they return. Rock 2 Recovery really stood out to me as an organization as it wasn’t about prescribing medications, but about treating each client as an individual, and not giving a blanket treatment. The coaches really take the time to find out about each individual and from that, provide coping strategies that the clients can then continue for the rest of their lives as required. R2R will support them for as long as necessary, and not just close the door on the them. In some cases it really is the last stop, as PTSD and Mbti are complex issues that are completely unique to the individual. The fact that Jamie and Jason (Co-Founders) have both dealt with PTSD also means there is a natural understanding of feelings, and therefore it creates a more equal atmosphere in which the clients can feel more comfortable .
Being from a creative background aswell, I knew the benefits are some of the therapies that the clients partake in, such as music and art.
Sabrina: To be supporting others that are directly responsible for changing and saving the lives of some incredible human beings and to be a small part of that is something that I don’t take lightly. Having never served myself, I feel like this is my opportunity to give back to the people that have allowed me to live my life in safety and with freedom. One of these amazing people happens to be my adopted Dad, and it is a real honour to do this to represent him.
Tell us about a memory that really stands out for you
One of the best memories that we both share, was having the privilege to watch #teamelite2016 at our Breakpoint event. The participants that went to the Special Forces style day, had trained and invested so much time, money and energy into being in the best shape physically and mentally that they could to complete the event. Getting to watch their determination and all their hard work pay off that day was an amazing experience. The event was also life changing for many of the participants so it was lovely to be a part of that with them too. Back at the hotel after the event, we had dinner as a group, and whilst some people couldn’t stop talking about their day, others sat quietly replaying the days events. There was laughter and tears as old emotions, fears and barriers were broken down by the Breakpoint team. We still receive messages almost 8 months on to let us know that another milestone in their life has been achieved thanks to the new ‘Breakpoint’ mentality.
As for picking one member of the team that has had a journey that is memorable, it would honestly be so difficult. Many of our members have changed and improved their lives whilst being a part of Team Fortitude. Quite a few have gone on to study for a Personal Training qualification after seeing the difference they have made physically for themselves in such a short space of time. There’s also the people that have become mentally stronger through realizing what they are capable of, and through the new friendships they’ve made within the team, made life decisions that they never would have dreamt of.
What’s next for Team Fortitude ?
Team Fortitude is still growing and ever evolving. With that comes new challenges and events, and a bigger community of people who are raising money and making friends along the way. We have some amazing events coming up and we always encourage people to join us and add their own event for other people to join too.
July 8th & 9th – Breakpoint USF Course
August 19th – Sky Dive
September 2nd – Breakpoint ESF Course
September 30th – Night Swim
If people wanted to how would you suggest could they get involved?
People can find us on Twitter, Facebook, our website www.teamfortitude.co.uk or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to answer any questions or queries, but please bear in mind that we do this voluntarily so it may take a few days to respond if we are busy!
If people can’t support personally is there a link to let them donate??
What’s big/coming in 2017 /18 for each of you guys personally?
Sabrina: In 2017 I have decided to make this my year to face my fears. I have always been a huge believer in personal development and doing things that you don’t think are possible. I would also never ask anyone to attempt anything that I wouldn’t so if we add any challenges to our calendar, they are normally only events that we would do. This year we have added a sky dive and a night swim both of which are things that I wouldn’t like to do but I am going conquer the fear of heights and of water at night…!
Laura: After seeing so many of our brave team mates conquer their fears in various different ways last year, I have decided it’s finally time to face one of my ultimate fears…….heights. Along with Sabrina, and a few other participants, I will be taking part in the Sky Dive. As I get older I become more adverse to risk, so this for me will be (and is) a big deal! Hopefully it will an experience that leaves me wondering why I didn’t do it sooner!
As for 2018, we haven’t planned anything yet, but we are always open to suggestions 🙂