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#Eleven11 – Nick on the strength of communities and being a catalyst for recovery

This Remembrance Day we are running a campaign called Eleven11 and encouraging people to join our critical Team Rubicon Support Squad. Through a monthly donation of £11 or more, you can make a massive impact at Team Rubicon.  The beauty of Team Rubicon is our dual mission, where your money makes double the difference – by positively impacting both the communities affected by disasters who we assist, and the veterans who serve them.  During November we are bringing you a series of 11 blogs which will show the difference Team Rubicon makes and, hopefully, inspire you to join our Support Squad.

Nick has deployed with Team Rubicon UK several times, including to the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan and to Nepal on a service project following the earthquake of April 2015.

Nick Spicer in a classic Greyshirt pose, filthy but getting the job done
Nick Spicer in a classic Greyshirt pose, filthy but getting the job done

I have been fortunate enough to be involved with Team Rubicon in the UK since its inception and over the first couple of years it has been an incredible journey to be part of the team and its successes. Seeing the effect that TR has delivered first hand to communities around the world and the difference it makes to those individuals involved is something quite special.  Utilising ex-military veterans in disaster situations was a concept I was interested in supporting from the outset and I immediately signed up with the team upon hearing about it through my good friend David Wiseman. The work enables me to help those in their time of need but also provides me a real sense of purpose that I lost but perhaps didn’t realise at the time of leaving the military.

It always seems to be those who are least prepared or able to recover that are the ones usually in mother nature’s way.  This notion is compounded by what I saw most recently in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew.  A community barely on its feet after the devastation of a previous earthquake and one of the poorest world countries the scale of the destruction was palpable.

Tim Edwards and Nick with friends made while working in Haiti
Tim Edwards and Nick with friends made while working in Haiti

We were deployed in Haiti to enable clearance for vital supply routes, and assist with aid delivery and reconstruction in one of the worst hit areas by the hurricane. In working with the local population again and in partnership with other organisations I felt that we were able to act as a catalyst for people to dust themselves off and start rebuilding once again. As seen first-hand in the Leyte in a school rebuild, along with in Nepal in breaking boulders for aggregate, the strength of the community cannot be underestimated and the results when they pull together are quite special as witnessed again in Haiti. I feel strongly that any form of response or relief work must be conducted in partnership as it is about us providing support and enabling others to help themselves. For me it was about standing side by side with the Haitian men and women of these communities, in stifling heat and intense humidity whilst sweating profusely but working towards a common goal. The sense of achievement and profound joy is something we can all be immensely proud of.

As we left one particular community by boat on our last day I had one of my most poignant moments of my time with TR. The boat fell silent (and not all eyes were dry…) as a team of burly veterans looked back on this village knowing that they had made a difference and formed lasting bonds. At that moment in time Tim Edwards and I, with whom I have deployed on every operation looked at each with that knowing look; “these guys knew exactly what it meant to wear the TR Greyshirt and, rightly so, should be proud of what was achieved.” I felt privileged to serve once again with each and every one of these individuals as I do every time I pull on my new uniform and deploy with TR.

For me ultimately it’s a desire to continue to serve and ensuring I do my part.  When my young daughters ask in years to come ‘what did I do to help?’ I can tell them with a clear conscience I did my utmost to have a positive impact.  Having the ability to serve again has not only renewed my own sense of purpose, but helps empower communities and rebuild resilience in both our volunteers and the communities in which we serve alike.  Even though all my deployments have been in different geographies and countries; the common themes of humanity, empathy and getting amongst it makes such a difference and is what makes Team Rubicon such a powerful force for good.

Eleven11 banner

Find out more about Eleven11 and how you can join our Support Squad.

To continue fundraising for Team Rubicon, Nick, his business partner Andrew and fellow Greyshirt Tim are preparing to undertake Marathon Des Sables in early 2017. This is a 250 km ultramarathon, conducted back-to-back across the Sahara desert in Morocco on a self-supported basis. Any donations would be kindly received.

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