Get to know Leah

In October 2020, we invited Sulaiman and Leah to take over our social media channels to speak directly to our beneficiaries and their families. Messages from our Ambassadors resonated well within our community during a difficult period, and remain some of the most engaged activity with comments, and memories being shared by everyone. Here’s what Leah had to say:

Hi everyone, my name is Leah, I’m now at the ripe old age of 30 and have a medical conditional called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2. I currently live in my own home in Lancashire with my cat Niffler but who knows where the future may take me.

I am a past recipient of my very own ‘Earn Your Wings’ Muscle Flying Experience and now a proud Muscle Ambassador. I also work part time in a book shop, which is heaven to a girl like me who loves nothing more than to bury herself in a good book with a cup of chamomile tea.

I have a very large family whom I love dearly but unfortunately I don’t have the word count to mention them all here! My immediate family, however, consists of my Mum, Dad, two sisters (one older and one younger, yes I suffer from middle child syndrome!) and my niece.

I have been described as many things in my life but the one I am most proud of is Authentic. I pride myself on being the person I want to be, I don’t hide from who I am, I love making people laugh, I’m a self-confessed geek who loves Harry Potter, The Sims, my PlayStation and … well anything nerdy.

I try my best to make new memories every day no matter how small and I am, something I have learnt from Michael… Living in the moment!

I am happy, loving life (even with isolating and being stuck indoors 20 hours a day) and now I am lucky enough to support those charities and people that helped get me where I am today.

Leah at her Flying Muscle Dream

I first heard of the charity back in 2015. It was actually my younger sister, Chloe, who had seen the ‘Earn Your Wings’ Flying Experience application on Facebook and told me to apply for it. After a lot of research and a lot of ‘could I actually fly a plane’ moments I decided to apply.

I was recovering from a recent breakdown and had become withdrawn, angry, confused, and I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. My sister made me realise I had nothing to lose by applying but I had to potential to gain an amazing experience.

When I first received the phone call from Michael to say my application was successful, I thought it was a hoax that I had been chosen, I definitely didn’t realise how much of an impact the Flying Muscle Dream would have on my future, not only with the charity but personally too. So in September 2015 I went to Farnborough, met the team, the volunteers, the infamous Michael himself and the other Dream winners and flew a plane! My Muscle Help Foundation ‘Earn Your Wings’ flying experience catapulted my life into a new direction, gave me a sense of confidence I didn’t know I had and gave me a new vision of a brighter future.

Leah & her parents with Michael & Sue McGrath

Being a part of the Muscle Warrior family means more to me that what people could comprehend. It’s what it says on the tin…A family! Once a Muscle Warrior, always a Muscle Warrior.

Michael and the charity have been there for me ever since that first day back in 2015. They are there for so much more than just my Muscle Dream, they are there for someone to talk to, build memories with and to help me see my true potential in life. The Muscle Warrior family have given me the experiences I needed to realise that nothing is impossible, you just have to put some muscle behind it! And now I’m honoured to be a Muscle Warrior Ambassador for the very charity that helped shape my future.

Leah & Naomi on holiday with their families

My favourite memory of being a Muscle Warrior has to be meeting my fellow Muscle Warrior and best friend Naomi. We were both chosen to do the Flying Muscle Dream on the same weekend and instantly bonded. We became fast friends, giggling together, talking about our lives and families, egging each other on to push ourselves out of our boundaries.

I distinctly remember when it came to leaving that weekend, I know it seems weird that leaving should be my favourite memory but it was because it didn’t feel like leaving at all, we all hugged and said our goodbyes but it didn’t feel like that, it was more of ‘till next time’.

We were brought together as strangers and left as family. Me and Naomi still speak every day, spent time at each other’s homes and even been on holiday to Lanzarote together! All thanks to being a Muscle Warrior!

Leah with Jonny Peacock at a charity event

If I could send one (ok maybe a few, because one isn’t enough for a chatterbox like me) message to other beneficiaries and their families, it would be to stay in touch. During these difficult times it’s easy to feel alone, but you always have your Muscle Warrior family here for you. We have all shared a unique experience, regardless of our actual dream, we were all fortunate enough to get to become part of this family, and we are always here.

Also…enjoy the simple things, live in the moment and remember what it felt like during your muscle dream, try to embrace that in everyday life.

And lastly (see I simply can’t shush) remember that all experiences: big, small, positive and negative have an impact on your life and make you who you are, own those experiences, grow and learn from them and mostly have fun while doing them!

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