A couple of months ago, we received an email from Mr. Bradley Cook, who’s involved with “Surf Action,” an organization dedicated to helping military veterans and their families affected by PTSD and physical injuries. Below is his letter.
“Hello, my name is Bradley Cook. I live in Bude, Cornwall. I am involved with a group called Surf Action, which is a charity dedicated to helping military veterans and their families affected by PTSD and physical injuries. The charity itself is fairly big, and the sessions me and a cluster of friends do is kind of a separate branch dedicated to one or two local guys. We are part of Surf Action, but it’s different. It’s hard to explain by email. We try and do a session a week ( Surf, Weather, Tide), depending. I had never done anything like this before. It sounds cheesy, but the experience has changed my life. Seeing the happiness that it brings to the guys we do it with is a feeling I just have no words for. What we do is so effective for the veterans, as we are not therapists, we are just a bunch of surfers and watermen. We don’t judge or treat them like they are ill. All we do is give them the opportunity to experience the love and passion we have for the water.
The main guy we do it for is Steve Binns. He is paralyzed from the chest down. We have a customized surf board to suit his needs. What this man has achieved in a fairly short time scale is incredible. The local local life guards help out so much, driving him down to the beach if they are on duty. All of us have full time jobs, so generally the can only time we can do the sessions is after 6 when the life guards finish. The local council was letting us use one of their all terrain wheelchairs to take Steve to the waters edge. Out of the blue, they decided to stop allowing this when the lifeguards are off duty. One or two of us are trained life guards, and the rest are either surf instructors or have 5 + years surfing, so are more than competent in the water.
What we are doing at the moment is laying him on the board and carrying him down to the water. We have only noticed it now, as the beaches are getting very busy, as it’s holiday season. It is not a hardship for us, as we would carry him to to all corners of the earth if we had to. It comes across as Steve doesn’t care, but he is an old army veteran. As you can imagine, he’s very stubborn and will always put on a strong front. But he has given so much for this country and been paralyzed for a long time. He already has people staring all the time, and when you walk across the beach in the summer carrying a man on a surfboard, there are a lot of people staring. Steve doesn’t deserve this. The process that we are taking to get access to the chair we more than likely will, but it will be a very long time until we do. So I am trying other ways. I am not emailing you as a member of surf action. They don’t know that I’m seeking charity. I am emailing you as Bradley Cook. If there is any chance you could donate an all terrain chair, that would be fantastic.
After reading this email and speaking with Bradley, we were able to find a wheelchair that would suit Steve’s needs. Just today we received this letter and update from Gary Howes, a member of the Bude Surf Action Volunteer group.
“Dear Wheelchair Foundation,
I do hope you are well. I am Garry Howes, a proud member of the Bude Surf Action Volunteer group. I would like to thank you on behalf of our group for the generous donation of a wheelchair from your fantastic organisation to Steve, our inspirational friend. We are proud of Brad’s initiative in contacting you. I am delighted to tell you that the wheelchair has duly arrived, and has been used most successfully in transporting Steve to the seashore in order that he can surf accordingly.
I respectfully propose we stay in touch – and we will continue to inform you of our group’s activities. I can assure you that the donation of your wheelchair is a significant building block in developing our group. I am in the process of distributing the story of how we came to receive the wheelchair, accompanied with the photos we are sending you.
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