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Military veteran. Multiple Guinness World Record holder. 50+ marathons.

A fun fact about our online meetup guest speaker Sally Orange? She’s the only person on the planet to run a marathon on every continent in fancy dress.

Having suffered with mental health illness, she undertakes endurance challenges in fancy dress to raise money and spread awareness of mental health.

Find out more about Sally’s ambassador role at the Army cadets, how the challenges started and her advice for coping with anxiety and depression.

In this Q&A with Network My Club Founder and Managing Director, Bradley Hatchett, Sally gave insight ambassador role at the Army cadets, how the challenges started and her advice for coping with anxiety and depression.

Tell us about your military background…

I served for almost 22 years in the Royal Army Medical Core as a Physiotherapist which led me to be Officer in Command of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation team in Afghanistan. This sounds strange, but it was almost the highlight of my career. The advance in medicine we saw over there, the unity between everyone, and seeing people that really never should’ve survived going onto live fulfilling lives was amazing. 

Unfortunately, I was medically discharged in November 2019. I suffer with severe depression and anxiety. It came to the point where the military wasn’t the right place for me.

You’re the UK’s Female Ambassador for the Army Cadets. What does that role entail?

It’s an absolutely huge privilege. The motto of the army cadets is to inspire young people to achieve and the ambassador programme does just that. However, it isn’t just me inspiring others. There are so many cadets that inspire me! I’m really passionate about mental health in young people, it’s important to get them talking about it. I consider it a real responsibility.

I’m really passionate about mental health in young people, it’s important to get them talking about it. I consider it a real responsibility.

What was your initial thought process to put yourself through the challenges? How has it evolved?

Fear stopped me doing a lot of things before. I never thought I ever could run a marathon. That was until 2007 where I ran my first marathon dressed as a superhero. I now hold the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon dressed as a superhero! More importantly, when crossing that finishing line, for the first time ever I felt like a superhero. It was an electric feeling.

Once I had that feeling inside me, I needed to have it again. However, next time, I had to do something bigger and better. Inspired by my surname, I ran my second marathon dressed as an orange. I’m now the holder of the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as a fruit! After that, different opportunities came up and I pushed my own boundaries. 

I’m certainly not the fastest or fittest but if you can enjoy yourself, make others smile and raise money that’s the main thing! I now run marathons dressed as fruit to raise awareness of mental health.

Tell us about your mindset going into challenges. How do you keep your mental health in good condition?

As I said earlier, I’ve had my own problems with severe depression and anxiety. I really did hit rock bottom feeling there was no place on earth for me, no purpose and I was a burden.No matter how bad I feel during a challenge, I remind myself that it’s not as bad as how I’ve felt in the past. Trying to use the negative into the positive.

No matter how bad I feel during a challenge, I remind myself that it’s not as bad as how I’ve felt in the past.

Would you say mental fitness is more important than physical fitness?

We do need to do exercises for our brain. A lot of people focus on going to the gym or exercising for their physical health, but you need to exercise your brain. Physical and mental health are intrinsically linked.

It’s not always easy though, I struggle with motivation myself. The hardest thing often is getting out the front door.

There’s many a time that I’ve regretted not going for a run, but I’ve never been for a run and regretted going for it. That’s always something in the back of my mind.

There’s many a time that I’ve regretted not going for a run, but I’ve never been for a run and regretted going for it. That’s always something in the back of my mind.

Do you have any advice for managing mental health?

I’m constantly learning. You need to be kind to yourself. You won’ get everything right all the time. Giving compassion to yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t make comparisons.

Complete a gratitude journal every day where you focus on three positives from your day. No matter how big or small, fill it out! Make your goals small and achievable.

You started training to work at the London Nightingale Hospital, how did that come about?

I worked for the NHS before joining the military. I had plans to do adventures around the world which got cancelled, so I wanted to go back and help. The fear element drove me on. Of the weekend of the London Marathon I ran a marathon around the building! During the race, I donated a mile of every run to an NHS worker.

 

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