Martin Hewitt survived the kind of injury that normally spells certain death. A bullet from an insurgent machine gun tore a hole the size of a tennis ball through his chest, leaving the former Parachute Regiment Officer gasping for life on the desert floor in Southern Afghanistan. If it wasn’t for the quick thinking and incredible medical support from his follow Parachute Regiment soldiers, Martin’s life could well have ended in tragedy.
Although left partially paralysed, he has made a remarkable recovery and the fire and determination that allowed him to lead his soldiers in combat has also encouraged him to fight through his transition into a new life outside of the Army.
Martin has set himself the goal of leading the first disabled team to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam – the rare feat of climbing the highest mountain on each continent and reaching the North and South Pole. He is halfway through and can count HRH Prince Harry as one of several supporters that have accompanied him on his expeditions.
Martin’s experience of overcoming adversity, adapting to a life unplanned and coping with change will highlight his role as a guest speaker at the inaugural RPA Transition Programme.
Spread across four modules including a three day course in the Brecon Beacons, the programme is designed to support current and former players with their transition from professional rugby. It will assist attendees with their understanding of potential strengths, develop their leadership and communication skills and support their off-pitch career development.
Alongside working with their RPA Personal Development Manager (PDM), the attendees will also have a personal mentor from Fieri who understands transition and the techniques required to manage their adjustment from rugby into a second career.
A key part of the programme is a workshop delivered by the RPA’s confidential counselling service provider Cognacity. Change and transition can be a challenging time for players so the opportunity to understand all aspects of coping with transition is a vital aspect of managing the process. Over the course of the residential part of the transition programme, Cognacity will discuss coping with transition and personal changes, formulating a personal resilience plan, and understanding the loss process.
RPA Rugby Director, Richard Bryan, said: “We are delighted to welcome Martin Hewitt as our guest speaker at the RPA Transition Programme. The programme will be a hugely positive addition to the support already offered to our members as part of the RPA Personal Development Programme and it’s fantastic to have someone of Martin’s calibre sharing his experiences with our attendees. As the sport matures in the professional era we are understanding more about the impact of transitioning from the game into a second career and the challenges it can present. As the players’ union we want to provide our members, current and former, with every opportunity to access support in coping with transition. As well as understanding the fantastic skills they can bring to business, it’s also about helping players prepare mentally for change and how to manage that process.”
RPA Alumni member and former England Sevens Captain, Ollie Phillips, said: “It’s great to see the RPA leading in this area and putting so much attention into supporting players managing transition. I played professional rugby for over 10 years and absolutely loved my playing career and although I have been fortunate in moving into a new career and taking on new challenges, adapting to a life away from playing rugby can be challenging. I had to retire due to injury, which came much sooner than I wanted so the support the RPA Transition Programme can offer, giving players the opportunity to be proactive about their retirement from rugby and the chance to directly discuss all aspects of transition is brilliant and I support it wholeheartedly.”
For more information on Restart Rugby please visit www.restartrugby.org.uk