Invictus Games 2018 launch - Michelle Turner

Facing Her Fears: Team UK's Invictus Vice-Captain On Turning Her Life Around

Former RAF sergeant Michelle Turner has spoken about her journey from being afraid to leave the house to being named Team UK vice-captain...

Invictus Games 2018 launch - Michelle Turner

Former RAF sergeant Michelle Turner has spoken about her journey from being afraid to leave the house to being named Team UK vice-captain for the Invictus Games.

The forces veteran has a heart condition which causes exhaustion, extreme dizziness and unannounced collapses.

Prior to taking part in her first Games last year in Toronto, she had confined herself to her house, embarrassed by the inevitability of collapsing in public.

She told Forces Network: "My heart rate fires up too high, like over 200 beats a minute, and I just collapse - and I don't have a warning.

"The more I collapsed, the more I just stayed at home. It wasn't very nice waking up on supermarket floors."

She overcame that fear, however, and credits Invictus with transforming her life.

Key to her recovery was her husband, who persuaded her to take part, and daughter.

Invictus Games 2018 launch - Michelle Turner
Michelle telling her story to Forces Network's Cath Brazier

Michelle says: "I just became a mummy that sat on the sofa the whole time and thought that was the right thing to do.

"I was actually in hospital when I got an email from Invictus, and I obviously thought, 'well, I can't do that'.

"[But] I went to that first camp and [although] I was petrified, I was back with military people and the camaraderie [that comes with that] and it was just unbelievable."

"We're all there together, it's amazing. Fitter, better, stronger."

One story, in particular, came to mind of how the RAF veteran was helped by her team-mates:

"I once collapsed at Bath University and I had a bust face and a black eye and I could feel myself going straight back, going 'I need to go home'.

"I walked into breakfast and they sang the Rocky theme tune to me - and you know, what, that's it, isn't it!"

"That's the military. That is just what we do. It just made me realise it didn't matter."

Michelle has been named vice-captain along with Army veteran Spencer Bull, something she says makes her immensely proud:

"To be [here as] vice-captain is the proudest day of my life.

"I started this journey to make my little girl proud. She saved my life by dialling 999 age four [when I collapsed while cooking]... and I think maybe I did [make her proud] today."

"If I can do it then anybody can do it, and if we can just inspire one person to just not give up in life [then it will all be worthwhile].

Health issues meant she was unable to compete in the pool last year and she feels she has "unfinished business" to take care of in Sydney:

"It means everything [to be taking part again this year].

"In Toronto, as usual, my life didn't go to plan and I was in the back of an ambulance after hospital and I didn't get to swim.

"I was heartbroken... So this year I've got unfinished business in the pool and I just want to swim!"

Michelle will also be competing in rowing when the Invictus Games kick off in Sydney, Australia in October.

She'll be supported in her leadership role later by fellow vice-captain Spencer Bull, who has also told his story to Forces Network.

More: Doing Yorkshire Proud: Catterick's Finest To Represent UK At Invictus Games