Commander Pascal Patterson, Stars and Spokes

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“Everyone in the military loves a couple of idiots going off and doing a big physical challenge and that's what we are, and that's what we're doing.”

Having live streamed daily chats with Pascal throughout his recent ‘LEJOG’ bike ride – that’s Land’s End to John O’Groats to you and I, we catch-up with him as he reflects on what was achieved in support of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and how it’s prepared him for his epic cycle challenge across America next year with Stars and Spokes buddy and fellow Royal Navy Air Crew Officer, Lieutenant Commander Dan Waskett.

So, as Serving pilots who fly “helicopters around war zones”, why are they doing it?

“Whilst we have our primary tasks when we're in a helicopter… we always have also what we call the MEDEVAC role. So, the medical evacuation role and if I use an example from Afghan say… So you're flying a sortie… if there are troops on the ground who have had an incident, and often in Afghanistan it was IED related… ultimately, he or she needs to be taken to a medical facility very quickly…

Now, because of the critical situation…, sometimes when you're flying someone on a MEDEVAC back to a medical facility, you've got all the medics in the back working on the individual trying to keep them alive. Sometimes it doesn't always work out… the individual unfortunately passes away over the course of that hour-long or two-hour-long sortie. And that's an incredibly sad situation.

And I found those moments deeply personal… suddenly it all goes quiet in the back, there's not that rustle of activity, the medics aren't doing anything and the reason being, the individual's passed away and there's nothing else that can be done at that point. And that's a precious moment to be involved in… a deeply emotional moment for everyone present.

But I think the second order effect to consider is at that point, there is a family back in the UK who doesn't know this has happened, and when they find out, it's going to absolutely crush them from a mental health perspective, because either mum or dad or brother or sister, they are not coming home.

The mental health impact of that is going to last decades, frankly, all of their lives. And what needs to happen is the long-term provision of mental health assistance to that individual, to that family, and that is where the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity fits in… (they) stay with that individual and offer help and support… for as long as it takes.

And they do that through the programmes that are funded through donations that come in; and Dan and I have first-hand experiences of that kind of stuff happening. We have seen first-hand the epic support that the charity provides and that is why we are riding our bikes across America.”

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Hosted by Steve Bomford and Mike Davis-Marks.
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This podcast is supported by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

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