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Teacher's Story - Lara Wilkinson and Hockey for Heroes

From 2013-2015, Lara Wilkinson was a primary PE teacher here at the British International School, Ho Chi Minh City. Since leaving Vietnam and returning to the UK, Lara has combined her passion for hockey with a charity close to her heart; Help for Heroes. We speak to her about her upcoming challenge Operation Endure where her ladies hockey squad will be completing 8 military challenges and 28 hockey matches in just 8 days.

  • Lara Wilkinson Op Endure
  • Lara Wilkinson Op Endure
  • Lara Wilkinson Hockey for Heroes
  • Lara Wilkinson Hockey for Heroes
  • Lara Wilkinson Hockey for Heroes
  • Lara Wilkinson Hockey for Heroes
  • Lara Wilkinson Hockey for Heroes

What have you been up to since you left BIS HCMC?

I have been working at The Abbey School as Director of Sport. The Abbey School is an all girls independent school, so quite different from BIS HCMC! I have also gone back to playing hockey competitively and getting back into lots of sports I couldn’t play in Vietnam.

Working back in England is definitely very different from my time in Vietnam, I definitely miss BIS HCMC, especially what was the U11 Football team! A very special group of girls that always put a smile on my face when teaching. The work life balance was far better in Vietnam and I do feel I am often chasing my tail back here!

However, I like nothing short of a challenge so I have also started a Doctorate this year as well as taking on my role within Hockey for Heroes.

How did you get involved with Help For Heroes?

I went for a selection day in December 2015 and was fortunate enough to make the squad. Since then, Hockey for Heroes has grown considerably and I now form some of the management team. Every person in the squad has a ‘why’ which is our motivation and drive to get behind the charity. For me, I have had a number of family members serve in the armed forces and this is my way of showing them my support. Since being in the squad, I have seen first hand how important charities such as Help for Heroes are in the support and rehabilitation of service personnel.

What is Operation Endure and what inspired you to sign up for it?

Operation Endure is the first challenge that our Hockey for Heroes ladies team will take on. Over 8 days, we will complete 8 military challenges and play 28 games of hockey. The military challenges range from completing a 10 mile tab (running with 16kg on our backs) to a military PT session and a 5 mile stretcher race. The aim is to raise awareness of Hockey for Heroes, educate people on the importance of charities such as Help for Heroes and obviously raise as much money as possible.

How are you preparing for it?

Training is pretty hard, I am constantly seen running with a backpack on, or in the gym. Where possible I practice running on tired legs so I get used to the feeling and I have been doing a lot of press ups (these form one of our challenges)! However, it is difficult to prepare mentally and I think this is what I will find hardest. Last weekend we had 3 back to back games of hockey (each game is 70 minutes) so that was a good test of our endurance!

Are you looking forward to the challenge?

Yes, I cannot wait. As a group we are incredibly close and we all want to raise as much money as possible for the charity!

Is there anything that you will have to overcome personally, in order to complete the challenge?

I have had to be really disciplined with my training and learning to listen to my body! There have been a couple of times where I have over done it and really I should have just taken a step back.

What motivates you to persevere with an endurance challenge of this nature?

I know how important the role of Help for Heroes is and how much it is needed by service personnel and their families. I also know I will have the support of all my teammates, who will be feeling just as I am and we will get each other through.

What advice do you have for anyone (particularly students) who might want to follow in your footsteps and take on some endurance training?

I feel very lucky that I have been able to combine my hobby (hockey) with a charity I feel so passionate about. Whether your hobby is sport, music, technology … anything, see where you can use it to help others!

In terms of endurance events, I love learning how hard I can push my body physically and mentally. Set yourself small goals in the build up to a larger goal. Achieving the smaller targets helps with motivation. Get the support of those around you and where possible, get them to join in with some of your training. We have a staff running club at school and they have helped to keep me company on training days. Give yourself time to prepare and don’t worry if you have a bad few days.

Where can we follow your progress over the 8 days?

Follow Hockey for Heroes on Facebook and Twitter as I will be giving live updates. I also have my own Twitter page so please feel free to add me and follow me there.

From all of us here at BIS HCMC, we wish Lara and her team the best of luck over the next 8 days!

#OpEndure

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