Forces Charities

Invictus Games Veteran Takes On 1000 Mile Challenge

Mark Bowra and legendary Formula 1 champion Mark Webber raise money for stroke survivors

Two-time Invictus Games champion, Mark Bowra, is fundraising to support brain-injured veterans.

At the pinnacle of his career in 2014 Mark was a decorated officer in the UK Special Forces when he suffered a debilitating stroke.

He was hospitalised for over a year, having to work hard to regain his speech, as well as his physical and mental wellbeing.

The road to recovery was long and arduous but Mark saw it as a challenge.

Now he is challenging himself again, this time to raise money to help other stroke survivors who are currently going through what he had to overcome.

Credit Mark Bowra

After the accident, the former Special Forces veteran was told that he could never walk again.

Mark designed the Bowra 1000 Challenge to prove that the commando spirit only gets tougher in the face of adversity. With courage and determination, anything is possible.

The fundraising challenge will see him cycle, swim, paddle and yomp from John O’Groats to Land’s End.  

The original plan was to start at the most northeastern part of the UK and make his way down to Cornwall covering 1,000+ miles, as well as climbing the Three Peaks along the way.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Mark had to adjust his plans. But, when a winner puts his mind to it, not even a pandemic can stop him.

The veteran will be completing the challenge virtually, covering the same mileage in his local area and garage.

Almost halfway through the 39-day challenge, Mark is showing no signs of slowing down. He was joined along the way by friend and Formula 1 legend Mark Webber.

Speaking to BFBS Radio's Jess Bracy as an ambassador of the Bowra foundation, Mr Webber said:

“It just shows you how a phenomenal man he is to take something like that on and bring awareness.

“It’s quite a long duration, of course, this mission that he’s taken on. It’s going to take a while … the determination I just find it so inspiring.

“That’s what he is showcasing that it is still so possible, and he is going to do it and he will blow most people away anyway in the speed that he is still able to do it.

"It’s extraordinary ... doing something on his own in his own back yard here in the UK.

“It’s good that I am able to join him a little bit along the way where I can. I know he has so many great supporters along the way.”

The legendary racing champion isn’t the only celebrity rooting for Mr Bowra. Former England and Manchester United footballer David Beckham personally wrote to Mark to show his support.

From Mark’s experience of being hospitalised for more than a year, he developed the ‘Bowra Bag’ which consisted of items that assisted his recovery.

The items selected by Mark are a neurological rehabilitation toolkit in a bag that helps to support brain-injured people in the early stages of recovery.

The development and dissemination of the ‘Bowra Bag’ to NHS Trusts across the country was a major inspiration for setting up the Bowra Foundation.

The money raised from the challenge will go towards ensuring that more brain-injured people are provided with the bag in the primary stages of their rehabilitation process.

Credit Mark Bowra

Mark said the help that the bag provides is “immediate”.

The sudden challenges of recovering from a stroke can be physically debilitating and socially isolating.

Each item in the bag has been carefully selected after helping Mark during his year in hospital recover his muscle function, perform daily tasks and regain his mental ability.

The bag consists of 20 items including a whiteboard, a distraction blanket, a booklet on how to communicate via gestures, a photo album, a stress ball and simple exercise equipment.

In the first phase of recovery, a stroke survivor may find everyday activities almost impossible.

Simply picking up a fork and eating becomes a struggle.

The bag includes a knork and non-slip mat. The utensil is a high-quality knife and fork designed to be used with one hand allowing a patient to eat without the help of someone else.

Due to loss of speech and not being able to communicate as one used to, a person with a brain injury may feel socially excluded. Simultaneously having to deal with a loss of independence can make the recovery process even more unpleasant.

A stroke survivor may not be able to tie their shoes by themselves which is why the Bowra Bag comes with a set of easy tie shoelaces.

The bag is a simple idea that can make a tremendous difference to the recovery process.

If you are ready to help a brain-injured person get their life back on track follow Mark’s challenge on the Bowra Foundation website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Donate here