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Healthcare worker takes home silver at para-snow sports competition

An NHS worker from the West Midlands scooped a silver medal at an international snow sports competition for wounded, injured and sick members of the armed forces.

Mark Abel, an administrator in the Complex Discharge Facilitator team at Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, took home a silver medal with the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team (AFPST) at a snow sports event in Colorado, USA.

Mark, who provides administrative support to nursing colleagues, joined over 80 wounded, injured or sick members of the armed forces and veterans from around the world to complete in snowboarding, and alpine and nordic skiing.

Having learnt to ski when he joined the army aged 16, Mark had to relearn the sport after unexpectedly losing his sight in 2011.

The following year he was introduced to visually impaired skiing and went on to attend several ski camps around the world to develop his skill in paralympic alpine skiing.

However, Mark was forced to take a break from the sport following the tragic death of his son in 2017.

“I was starting to race competitively and the very same weekend, my son tragically passed away and my wife was diagnosed with cancer - all in January 2017. My world was collapsing around me.

“With the help and support of my ski guide and AFPST, I eventually returned to the snow in 2021 and have since regained my confidence.

“Taking the silver medal in the slalom race was a huge achievement for both myself and my guide, and was a result of hard work and excellent coaching from our coach within AFPST.

“On the day of the races, it was very emotional waiting at the top of the mountain, the pressure, excitement, adrenaline memories of 2017 and other team members and general public watching.

“I wasn’t aware of the results until the award ceremony or of how well we had done until I was called forward for silver medal place. It was very emotional getting the medal, all the highs and lows in the past and the hard work that both myself and my guide had put into this.”

Laura Abbott, Mark’s manager in the Inpatient Pathway Team said, “On behalf of all of Mark’s colleagues, I would like to say a huge congratulations for this achievement.

“He never ceases to amaze us with his abundance of skills. Well done”.

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