In 2014, Mark Bowra was at the pinnacle of his career.
He was a decorated officer in the Royal Marines. He had tested himself in some of the most arduous environments including on operational duties. Life was frantic and dangerous, but it was what he had joined up to do. In the space of a few minutes all that was about to change. Mark suffered a major stroke whilst driving back from London that would lead him to be hospitalised for over a year.
To be so fit and active one moment and then be so reliant on others the next, truly tested his physical and mental well-being. Mark quickly realised that he could either give in to his condition or take it on as if it was yet another challenge.
Thankfully with the help of his family, friends and some very supportive charities including Help for Heroes, Mark is now back on his feet again with a greater determination to help others who may be similarly affected.
In 2016 and 2017, Mark was selected to take part in the Invictus Games, winning medals in swimming. Since then, he as dedicated himself to helping others.
Mark established the Bowra Foundation in 2019, to inspire resilience amongst people suffering from neurological disorders through practical help and physical challenges alongside members of the Armed Forces community.
Building on his own experience recovering from stroke, Mark devised the Bowra Bag, a toolkit to aid rehabilitation, communication and independence for people suffering from a range of neurological disorders. The Bowra Foundation works with partners and healthcare practitioners to get Bowra Bags to those who need them at the earliest opportunity.
Mark has been training in anticipation of his greatest challenge yet, to cycle, swim, paddle and walk from John O'Groats to Lands End. The Bowra 1000 Challenge was scheduled for May-July 2020 and has been postponed due to the escalating COVID-19 crisis. Mark’s plan is to complete the challenge virtually and bring members of the Armed Forces community and people with neurological disorders along with him.
In doing so he is proving that no barriers need exist to those that are prepared to test themselves. At the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Sydney in 2018, Prince Harry referred to the spirit that exists amongst the veterans, that makes them so inspirational. He also mentioned that this 'brothers in arms, never give in' attitude is something that we can all aspire to.
Mark has now dedicated himself to helping others find their Invictus inner selves, by setting up the Bowra Foundation in which the motto, 'what's inside matters' has never been more appropriate.
when you accept a challenge is real, you can have hope. When you understand your vulnerability, you become strong. When you are brave enough to ask for help, you can be lifted up
HRH PRINCE HARRY
Mark designed The Bowra 1000 Challenge to demonstrate that with courage, determination and cheerfulness in the face of adversity anything is possible. It is no coincidence that these key elements of the Commando spirit have helped to create the DNA of the Bowra Foundation.
Scheduled for May-July 2020, The Bowra 1000 Challenge has been postponed until the COVID-19 crisis has passed. It will be Mark’s greatest challenge to date and will see him cycle, walk, paddle and swim his way from John O’Groats to Land’s End, traveling over 1000 miles in the process. Alongside Mark will be other injured veterans as well as many of his contemporaries from his time in the military, many of whom have their own reason for taking on the challenge in support of the Bowra Foundation. People from all walks of life who suffer from neurological disorders and are determined to showcase the Foundation’s motto that ‘what’s inside matters’ will also be accompanying Mark throughout his journey.
In the meantime, Mark’s mission to inspire resilience amongst people suffering from neurological disorders and forge links with the Armed Forces community will continue. Thanks to a loan of exercise equipment from AECC University College, Mark will complete a version of the Challenge from home. Along with the Bowra Foundation’s Ambassadors, he will keep up the conversation with veterans, serving Armed Forces personnel and people with neurological disorders. Mark is building an online community, reducing isolation and helping people stay motivated to keep driving their rehabilitation under the challenging circumstances we all now face.
You too can be involved, by sharing Mark’s photos and videos, engaging people you know who could benefit, particularly those suffering from neurological disorders.
You can complete your own challenges from home, raise vital funds to help the foundation help others and share your messages of support.
This is your chance to be inspired, to achieve and in so doing, to motivate others - a truly life-changing opportunity.
RECOVERY is a journey which brings out a strength, determination and resilience often missing in everyday life. Everyone NOW has the chance to go on a personal journey to raise charitable funds for the BOWRA FOUNDATION.
SIGN UP today for the 1000 STEPS TO RECOVERY CHALLENGE. Break the momentum of daily routine and achieve something exciting and extraordinary IN AID of people recovering from life changing circumstances.
The 1000 STEPS CHALLENGE TO RECOVERY can be made up of any action or event that inspires an individual or team to stand in the moment of achievement outside of the world of comfort and convenience. This can range from making a 1000 cakes for a school fête to taking on an adventure challenge that takes you outside of your comfort zone.
The 1000 STEPS CHALLENGE TO RECOVERY has no end date and will form the foundations and life blood of the BOWRA FOUNDATION’S fund raising journey.
The Bowra Foundation is delighted to announce the launch of our new donation page. Virgin Money Giving allows our supporters to give on a one-off or monthly basis, directly through the link below.
So far they’ve helped over 18,000 UK charities and over 1 million fundraisers raise over £750 million online. They are run on a not-for-profit basis and we’re hoping they’ll help our small team maximise our work fulfilling Mark’s mission to inspire resilience amongst people with neurological disorders.
Sport can be a powerful tool for recovery. At the Endeavour Fund, they have seen time and time again how wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans can use adventurous challenges to support their rehabilitation.
The predominant aim is to inspire many more wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women to explore new physical challenges as part of their recovery; rebuilding their confidence and rediscovering self-belief. These challenges are not just inspirational to all who see and hear of them, but they have positive and practical impacts on their participants’ physical, social and psychological recovery as well as developing professional networks, qualifications and introducing employment opportunities for the next stage in their lives, beyond injury.
Mark has been nominated for the Recognising Achievement Award at the 2020 ceremony, with their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in attendance.
Visit the Endeavour website
REGISTERED CHARITY NO: 1185395
DESIGNED BY JAMES NASH | COPYRIGHT 2020