Army veteran drives motorsport career to success
In 2010, while serving in Afghanistan, Matt Stringer was injured by two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which left him with severe hearing loss. Now, with the help of The Soldiers’ Charity, he has a rewarding second career in motorsport.
Matt had been interested in an Army career since childhood. In 2004, at the age of 17, he joined the Army as an infantry soldier in The Royal Anglian Regiment. Matt undertook six months of arduous training in Catterick, completing a variety of jobs, but his main role was as a sharpshooter.
He served on two operational tours of Afghanistan during his nine-year career. On his latter tour in 2010, he was injured by two IEDs which severely damaged both his eardrums. He remembers: “At the time I didn’t even know, I thought it was just ringing in my ears.”
Matt returned to the UK to have hearing aids fitted before spending two and a half years as a driver in Germany. In 2013, he was medically discharged from the Army. Matt had always had an interest in motorsport and was pleased to undertake a short placement with Mission Motorsport – the Forces’ Motorsport Charity.
Last year, The Soldiers’ Charity awarded Mission Motorsport a total of £40,000 to give veterans the chance to work in the automotive and motorsport industry. At Mission Motorsport, veterans can learn and practice a variety of skills from mechanics to management and gain self-confidence to pursue their future goals.
Through Mission Motorsport, Matt was offered employment with Track Group as a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver. At the time, he did not have an HGV driving license, so The Soldiers’ Charity offered to pay for his training. In late 2015, Matt began an accelerated apprenticeship, attaining his City and Guilds National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 3 in Vehicle Maintenance with Mission Motorsport.
Six years on, Matt is a qualified race mechanic and utilises his skills with Track Group. With the guidance of his career mentor, Adam, he has successfully translated his interest in motorsport into a rewarding career. His attitude to hard work has always been: “I’ve done it once; I can do it again.”
Alongside his work with Track Group, Matt has started his own business in vehicle wrapping. He wraps race cars and track day cars to protect the body and structure from damage during races. From colour changes to protecting wingmirrors and bonnets, Matt has continued his training by constantly taking on more courses to keep his skills at the cutting edge.
Matt added: “If I didn’t get the funding, I wouldn’t be here now. I don’t know what I’d be doing.” Thanks to the support that The Soldiers’ Charity gives to charities like Mission Motorsport, veterans like Matt can excel in a career after their resettlement.
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity
The Soldiers’ Charity was formed 75 years ago to ensure that soldiers returning from the Second World War and campaigns such as D-Day were taken care of. Our purpose remains unchanged – to ensure that all soldiers, veterans and their immediate families can live a life of independence and dignity.
This year, the charity has provided support to around 70,000 British Army soldiers, veterans and their families in 68 countries across the globe. The youngest person we supported was two, the eldest was 102. We have been proud to assist 33 Second World War veterans this year – as well as funding 92 other charities and organisations that help the Army family at large.
To find out more, visit www.soldierscharity.org