Matt Stringer deployed to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 6 in 2007 with 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment (The Vikings). The battalion lost nine soldiers on that tour including five of Matt’s friends.
He deployed back to Helmand Province on Op HERRICK 11 in late 2009 for another tough tour. In March 2010 the battalion deployed on a two day operation in relatively unknown territory. Late on the second day Matt was involved in an IED blast which killed two of his colleagues, injured his platoon commander and rendered Matt deaf from the blast.
Matt was casevac’d out of Afghanistan in March 2010 and after prolonged medical treatment it was clear that his hearing would never fully return and that issues of balance would also make life difficult for him.
He was placed on light duties and acted as driver to his Commanding Officer who later became Commander 7th Armoured Brigade in Germany and who took Matt with him.
It was clear however that given his medical condition he would no longer be fit for military service and in February 2013 he was returned to the UK to conduct his resettlement activity and where he was appointed to a Recovery Career Services Specialist Employment Consultant (SEC).
Finding civilian vocational opportunities that replace a military career and its inherent characteristics of strength of association and pride is the biggest challenge. Finding an appropriate role for Matt, who has spent a year of his life in the harshest of conditions fighting the Taliban, was no exception.
Matt had expressed a desire to embark on a mechanic’s apprenticeship and was introduced to Mission Motorsport in March of 2013. He was bitten by the motorsports bug and subsequently had the chance to attend track days, courtesy of track day operator Goldtrack, and motorsports events at some of the most prestigious race circuits in the UK. In August 2013 Matt was discharged from service and, like many soldiers was still struggling to come to terms with his new life, still lacking any real sense of direction. Mission Motorsport had engaged with Track Group, who took Matt on work placement for two months. The placement provided time for the owner to make a full assessment of Matt’s ability as they were looking for a new race truckie. The ABF were again approached for funding and on Feb 28th 2014 Matt passed his C+E license, enabling him to drive Track Group’s articulated trucks in support of its racing operations.
Matt’s own view within a month of being taken on: “even in the short time I’ve been with Track Group I’ve done fantastic things. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have fallen on my feet doing a job I really love. I’ve got a lot to thank Mission Motorsport, WWTW, H4H and the ABF for”.
Matt’s employment has been incredibly successful and he is now a well-established member of the team, having been contracted for a second year. He embarked on a City and Guilds NVQ Level 3 Apprenticeship in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Engineering with Mission Motorsport in September 2015, funded by Walking with the Wounded. In 2016, Matt finished and passed his diploma, and is now a fully qualified mechanic.
2016 has been an incredible year for Matt. He spent the racing season running a Lotus Elise race car as part of his apprenticeship. He attended the 24h Races in Dubai, Barcelona, and Silverstone as part of the pit crew for teams in the Hankook 24 hour series.
Matt attended a track day at the Nurburgring in October 2016 with fellow Mission Motorsport beneficiaries and, whilst there, drove laps of the track in the Mission Motorsport Toyota GT86. As well as this, Matt has driven the Mission Motorsport Mazda MX5 at Thruxton Circuit, Blyton Park Circuit, and RAF Marham. All this experience of driving on track helped Matt with his journey to getting his race licence. At the beginning of November 2016, after lots of hard work, Matt passed his ARDS test. Just in time to race in one of the Mission Motorsport teams at the annual Race of Remembrance.