A VETERAN from Basingstoke joined athletes from across the country at the UK’s largest ever military adaptive sporting competition.

Kevin Pearson took part in The Invictus UK Trials at Sheffield in July, which saw 350 wounded, injured and sick veterans and service personnel take part in up to nine adaptive sports in a showcase of the power of sport on recovery.

The father-of-three and grandfather-of-four suffers with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following active service in the military during the 80s and 90s in Northern Ireland.

The 54-year-old lost his job at Sainsbury’s Distribution Centre as a result of his illness, which he was diagnosed with 12 years ago.

But 17-months ago he discovered archery through Help for Heroes, which he said has given him something to focus on.

Kevin, from Rooksdown, is now a member of Old Basing Archers, and said: “I did a five-day course on archery and I got hooked on it. I’ve never done it before, but I came back and started to look for clubs in the area and found Old Basing Archers so went there and have been working with a great bunch of people.”

He joined 350 other veterans at the Invictus UK Trials which ran across Sheffield’s top sporting venues and other locations over five days, with sports including archery, cycling, swimming and wheelchair basketball.

Kevin, who was knocked out in a head-to-head challenge, explained how the sport helps his recovery, saying: “You have to focus on other things and that’s the thing that’s been good. Old Basing Archers has been fantastic and the support from Help for Heroes.”

He was also inspired watching the other athletes compete, adding: “If you can imagine what it would be like to watch all those people compete, it’s phenomenal to watch.”

Kevin has also benefited from other Help for Heroes courses including photography and gardening, and said: “They have got me through the door and got me doing stuff back in the world again. I suffer with isolation and I don’t trust people so it’s been a big thing for me.”

The Invictus UK is a partnership comprising Help for Heroes, the Ministry of Defence and The Royal British Legion.

Martin Colclough, national head of sports recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “The Invictus UK Trials is a brilliant demonstration of the power of sport and we are here to help every individual exceed their personal recovery goals”

Those attending also enjoyed The Big Gig which marked the start of the trials, with performances from Alfie Boe, Suggs, Heather Small and JP Cooper.