When creating high-performing teams in businesses we regularly look at the decisions people make and often they can either be Life Changing or Life Defining, for me one led to another and has set me on a path I never dreamed I would tread.
On the 30th November 2012 at exactly 10:32am my only and younger brother Matthew decided the world was no longer for him and he ended his life. For him this was a defining moment, and for me, life changed for ever. Losing a loved one is extremely hard, yet for me this devastating blow came even harder as I’d only really known my brother for around 3 years or so, due to suffering from severe PTSD from my time as a police officer. As a result of this, I suffered from an extremely rare condition called Dissociate Amnesia. In 2007 I lost my memory completely and lived for nearly 2 years with a 24/48-hour memory, meaning I don’t remember my childhood and upbringing, my school days or time growing up with my brother. I still can’t recall those memories to this day, so I am in effect a 42-year-old with an 11-year memory.
About 6 months after losing my brother I was going through a major change process at work which wasn’t handled particularly well so my own mental health was not at its best. I was also training for the London Marathon, pushing my body to its limits. Then just two weeks before I was due to race in London I suffered a stroke.
I look back at it now as a ‘sit down and get your head straight’ warning. This was the defining point that my life changed completely, I started a more positive journey, which led me to where I am today.
“This was the defining point that my life changed completely”
At the time I was a VIP/Royalty driver at Heathrow airport so the stroke meant I could no longer drive. Once walking better, I was put on a few different teams before eventually ending up on a Continuous Improvement team and this is where the magic happened for me. Due to an empty brain I picked up new skills and knowledge really quickly, so was able to learn a lot of science-based qualifications such as Lean 6 Sigma and other process improvement and human behaviour courses. This learning, combined with psycho analytical therapy meant I really understand how humans tick and operate and why they make the choices and decisions they do.
After nearly two years I decided to leave Heathrow and I set up my own business up helping athletes with their mental performance. This has led me to working with Olympic and Paralympic athletes as well as working for a Formula one team making sure the drivers are in the best place mentally.
With numerous years spent around the pitlanes of F1, F2 British Touring cars and British GT I’ve decided to take the plunge this season and get behind the wheel of a race car myself. This season I will be racing in a Ginetta G40 in the GRDC Championship. I’ll be racing over 5 weekends with the season now starting on the 1st of August at Oulton Park.
The really exciting part is that I get to be able to give something back to SOBS who have become my charity partner, my local SoBS group was a pivotal piece in helping me understand what had happened to my brother and I’ve made lifelong friends from that group, members also visited me in hospital after my stroke which was incredibly kind of them.
“As you can see from the photos of my race car, the SOBS logo is taking pride of place on both doors of the car giving maximum exposure. I’m hoping people around the pit-lane will see this and ask questions so I can spread the word, not only of my loss but how this incredible charity helped me when I really needed it.”
SOBS also feature on my clothing range for the season which is really exciting as it means I’m able to help raise much needed funds as well as I donate 20% of the profit to them.
If you want to find out more about my racing season and how to watch me race please follow my social media @ACWRacing71
If you want to know more about my high-performance coaching work please see:
Andrew Cohen-Wray ~ Survivors of Bereavement By Suicide Ambassador & Ginetta Racing Driver