Stewart Hill: The Final Countdown

Trepidation: “A feeling of fear or nervousness about something that may happen.”

Is trepidation the correct word to describe my feelings, knowing the Walk will begin in a couple of days? I am nervous about this undertaking, the realisation of our commitment in a few days.

Training has been as expected but I did not anticipate the niggling Achilles heel problem I’ve experienced these past few weeks. I am confident I shall complete the 1000 miles but I would have preferred not to have this slight element of doubt. But if I ever feel sorry for myself I need just look at Matt who has only the one Achilles heel as his other leg is missing!

I will miss my family. My youngest Annabel does not understand I am leaving very soon for a number of weeks on a walk. My wife and I have tried to explain that Daddy will be away for some time but it is difficult when time is still not an understandable concept to Annabel. She is four and each time I have been away I tell her I am going to London to work rather than confuse her with different locations. Annabel has come to dislike London and I expect her to like it even less with my next absence.

My eldest daughter Olivia is nervous about my participation in the Walk. She was nine when I was nearly killed in Afghanistan and is afraid I am exposing myself to danger again. The impact of my injury has affected my family in many ways, not just me, though I know Olivia is incredibly proud of my efforts to do the best I can since my brain injury.

I spent a lot of time away from Olivia during her childhood because of work. Annabel was born after my injury and I have been home all her life; the longest we have been apart is two weeks. I know now how much of Olivia’s early life and formative years I missed. I love my children so much and do not like the idea of being separated from them. I have changed, my priorities and understanding of life has changed since my injury.

Walking With The Wounded recognise the commitment from our families and the team and are supporting and encouraging us to meet as much as is feasible. I plan to meet up with my family for seven out of the twelve days off.

I have a similar sense of uncertainty and unease I used to have before an operational deployment; my thought process seems similar. Excitement when told of the deployment; then focus on the training and the mindset required; then lastly a strange unease with a few days to go: I don’t want to let anyone down; I want to finish the job; I want to do well; how will I deal with the unforeseen? This Walk is a challenge on many levels.

This Walk is a major undertaking for all the team and their families, particularly Kirstie and Andrew coming to join us from North America. I hope you support us and the many injured veterans we represent.

You can read more from and about Stewart on his website: http://www.stewarthill.co.uk/

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