Gemma Hamblin

Gemma Hamblin

Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is difficult, but when Dan Richards lost his brother Jack to a terminal illness in 2016 he was utterly devastated.

They had always been so incredibly close, and it was very hard for Dan to accept that his brother had been taken away so young.

Over time his partner Gemma became increasingly worried that Dan was struggling to move on.
She could see how it was affecting their relationship, his relationship with their children and with the rest of the wider family.

“He wasn’t really present at all and was disengaged in general,” explains Gemma. “And because he didn’t really have a lot of emotion and was numb to everything I felt I was taking over the role of both Mum and Dad for the family.

“I was also beginning to suffer with anxiety myself because of constantly trying to read Dan’s behaviour. Arguments could be triggered by the smallest thing and I began to lose my self-esteem and self-confidence, which meant we were both struggling in very different ways. “It wasn’t until Dan actually opened up to me and said he felt there was something wrong that the process of change began.

“Dan had read about the StrongMen charity in one of Ollie Ollerton’s books (a star of Channel 4's SAS: Who Dares Wins), and after mentioning it to me I suggested he applied for one of their weekend retreats.

“Having been accepted he remained a bit cynical, saying it felt a long way to drive to Snowden to sit and sing Kumbaya around a camp fire - but it was nothing like that and he literally came back a different man.

“He was happier, lighter– his shoulders were lower and he couldn’t wait to tell me all about it.

“Perhaps most importantly was that he went broken and came back ‘accepting he might be broken’, but knowing he deserved a life for himself and everyone around him. We never expected a miracle cure, but it definitely re-set his life on a new path.

“It also had a wonderfully positive impact on our relationship, with our children, with family and friends and I also began to feel my own self confidence being restored.

“It’s been a life changing event for us, and Dan now inspires me and others around him.

“We owe so much to StrongMen. From someone who was running away from the world, Dan has now gone the other way and is an inspiration that helps others who are struggling in life, and is a wonderful partner and father.”

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