Pilot beats adversity to launch new book

RAF pilot Roger Cruickshank with his charity book
RAF pilot Roger Cruickshank with his charity book

An Aberdeenshire pilot hopes a new book will help to break the taboo surrounding mental health.

Banchory man Roger Cruickshank, who is based at RAF Lossiemouth, has joined forces with sports performance coach Don McNaughton to record how he has overcome a series of horrific, life-changing events.

It has resulted in a moving, newly-launched book, Speed of Sound, Sound of Mind, with all proceeds being donated to Help for Heroes and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

Roger, 33, was just 22 and a key member of the British Olympic ski team when he smashed his leg in a fall. Doctors warned he may never ski or walk again and his RAF career was in jeopardy.

He fought back from his injuries to compete in the Winter Olympics just ten months later, with nine titanium pins and a plate in his leg.

Don, who was working with the British ski team at the time, helped Roger to deal with the psychological aftermath of his accident.

However, Roger then suffered terrible facial injuries in a mountain biking accident shortly before qualifying as an RAF fighter pilot.

But the worst trauma was still to come when he lost his mother Ann, who had supported him throughout his recovery, through suicide six years ago.

The book tells of Roger’s incredible comebacks in sport and flying and his heartache over his mum’s death, combined with advice from Don on using progressive psychological approaches to overcoming adversity.

Roger said: “I never thought that my mum had any problems at all and she was who she had always been, my mum. Her suicide at the age of 54 was completely unexpected.

“It was her decision to take her own life but, if she had been in a position to talk to someone, then maybe she would have been able to get over what was troubling her at the time.”

Ailsa Alcock, Scottish income manager for Help for Heroes, said: “Their book is so inspiring and the vital funds raised will help us to support more wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to overcome the challenges they face.”

Anyone wanting to stock or buy the book can contact Roger and Don via www.facebook.com/speedofsound2016.

It can also be bought for £15 online via www.justgiving.com/speedofsound for SAMH and www.justgiving.com/soundofmind for Help for Heroes.