A STUDENT struck down by illness is using brain and brawn to good effect after securing a new job and representing her country at the Invictus Games.
Darlington College student Stacey Denyer competed in Dusseldorf, Germany, representing Team UK in the powerlifting and indoor rowing competitions, coming away with a bronze medal and two British records in the one minute sprint.
The 37-year-old served for 19 years in the RAF Police but was medically discharged this year because she developed multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis in her knees.
Undeterred she signed up at Darlington College for the Chartered Institute of Professional Development Level 5 associate diploma in people management which she passed with flying colours securing 100 per cent.
The Former Flight sergeant, who began competing for the RAF at powerlifting competitions in 2015, squatting weights of 100kg, was thrilled to be selected for the Invictus Games.
The competition is an inspirational display of resilience, strength, and determination designed to capture the warrior spirit of wounded and sick serving and veteran servicemen.
Established in 2014, it has been supported by the Royal British Legion who Stacey now works for as an equality, diversity and inclusion officer after serving with the RAF all over the world including Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I started powerlifting when I was 29 and stopped when I developed arthritis in my knees,” she said. “I took up indoor rowing as part of my rehabilitation for that and now hold multiple World and British records, including the one and four minute competitions.
“I started getting tingling and numbness in my hands and feet and tests showed I had a lesion on my spine, diagnosing clinically isolated syndrome. There was a 50 per cent chance of it becoming MS but then I started having issues with my balance, vision and speech. I relapsed with fatigue and nerve pain so had to leave the RAF but got a job with RBL the same day.
“In 2017 I set my personal best for the squat lifting 100kg but because of the arthritis I can’t even squat down to pick up a pencil. The Invictus Games powerlifting event is bench press only, but unfortunately I couldn’t quite manage 55kg this time.”
As part of her RAF leaving package she was offered the chance to study and decided to pursue an interest in human resources.
“Darlington College was great,” said Stacey who has a wife, Olga, and a nine-year-old son. “My tutor Margaret Lenahan was brilliant. When I arrived at college on the Monday Team UK announced it was selecting its team and I was away for the rest of the week. But Margaret and the other people on the course helped me catch up and she made sure we worked hard enough to get 100 per cent in our assignments.
“I’m now finding what I learned at college really useful in my new role at the RBL as it gives me an appreciation of how various departments work.”