Francis Stokes joined The Household Cavalry in 2009 just three months after his 16th birthday. He then spent two years based in Knightsbridge with the mounted side of the regiment and worked on various State Visits, the Royal Wedding and Trooping the Colour. In 2012, he moved to the armoured side of the regiment, where he drove light-armoured tanks and took part in training exercises in Canada and spent time in Italy helping with the training of Italian troops. He also achieved a Level 2 NVQ in mechanical engineering.
Unfortunately, in 2015, Francis suffered a stroke whilst with his regiment in Brussels. The stroke affected his vision, which meant that he was unable to drive, left him with limited sensation and weakness down one side of his body and left him suffering with anxiety. Because of this, he was deemed unfit for service and was medically discharged at the end of March 2017 at only 24 years old. Like most soldiers, Francis joined with the expectation of serving for his full career, so his discharge was a big shock, and left him in a fragile state.
Francis first encountered Mission Motorsport in late 2015. After seeing a flyer for the Mission Motorsport Invitational during a visit to Tedworth House, Francis made the trip down to Goodwood Motor Circuit for the day. However, it wasn’t until almost a year later, in September 2016, that he properly engaged with the charity for the first time. Since engaging with Mission Motorsport, Francis has attended a number of different events, from the Invitational and the Anniversary events at Goodwood, to spending the day at the Renault Sport Formula 1 factory. He has also been involved in the livery of vehicles.
Francis is in the midst of his NVQ Level 3 in Light Vehicle Maintenance, a course run by Mission Motorsport Training Manager, Ralph Hosier, at the Mission Motorsport workshops in Wantage, Oxfordshire. In November 2016, Francis attended the Race of Remembrance as part of the pit crew for one of the Mission Motorsport teams. The weekend provided Francis with valuable experience being part of a race team, and counted as evidence towards his final Diploma. When he finishes the NVQ course, Francis hopes to use his NVQ to open doors to doing a degree in Motorsport Engineering. In the future Francis hopes to pursue a career in motorsport, ideally in a race team.
According to Francis, since becoming involved with Mission Motorsport; “confidence in myself about going into a civilian workplace has increased, as well as my motivation to do work, and the belief in myself that I can actually do it. It’s also really great being around other people in a similar situation to myself, and making friends that understand what I’m going through.”