1. ITV Report

Michelle Partington: Invictus joy for RAF veteran who's seen the darkest days

  • By ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

The strange life of a television news reporter frequently allows you share peoples lives at the very best and the very worst of times.

It can be a privilege, but it can also be a tough experience.

Two years ago I first met Michelle Partington. She had been a life saver and a trailblazer, the RAF's first female paramedic on the Afghan frontline, but the Michelle I met was a shell of a woman.

Three gruelling tours and the dreadful things she had witnessed had left her struggling with PTSD. She had been forced to leave the RAF and was finding it difficult to step outside her home in Hindley Green near Wigan.

The courageous medic had to wear headphones to complete a simple trip to the shops. The noises of everyday life could without warning take her back to the Afghan battlefield so the sound of the real world had to be drowned out with loud music.

Michelle Partington struggled with PTSD after three gruelling tours with the RAF Credit: ITV News

A brutally honest Michelle told me about the reoccurring nightmares, the bed wetting and the relationships that had been strained and lost because of her condition.

We stayed in touch and ITV News has been able to follow an amazing recovery from that lowest point where Michelle admits she considered taking he own life to escape the demons that followed her back from Afghanistan.

There has been some official help but most of it is down to Michelle herself. She set up a help line for other veterans suffering from PTSD and like many before her discovered that sport can play a huge part in rebuilding a broken life.

I was with Michelle when she learned she had qualified from stiff competition to represent the UK at rowing and power lifting in this September's Invictus Games in Toronto. Her tears showed just how much that meant.

Prince Harry joined the 90 competitors at the official team unveiling at the Tower of London. Credit: PA

Today we saw Michelle with the full Invictus team unveiled at the Tower of London. She chatted to Prince Harry, creator and driving force behind the Invictus Games. He said winning medals would be great but the games were much more about the stories of the competitors, where they had come from and where they were now. He is right of course.

Whatever happens in Toronto, Michelle and the 89 other team members are winners already.