A MARRIED couple from Grimsby have become the only two people in Europe to be selected as chaplains in order to support elite athletes at the upcoming Invictus Games in Canada.

Reverend Peter and Mary Vickers are two of just six people from around the world who will make up an elite chaplaincy team at September’s Invictus Games – a seven-day festival of sporting events contested by injured servicemen and women from 17 countries.

Peter and Mary Vickers of Healing who have been appointed sports chaplains at the Invictus Games in Toronto in September.
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Picture by Ray Corke

The event is closely linked with Prince Harry, who is patron of the Invictus Games Foundation and brought the inaugural games to London in 2014.

The pair, from Healing, will be on hand through the hotly-contested games to provide support for athletes and their families in the lead up to events, managing expectations, and after events, to either help with celebrations or dealing with the disappointment of defeat.

The voluntary and self-funded role has been offered to Mary and Peter due to their joint unrivalled experience in similar roles.¬†Peter has 26 years’ experience as a chaplain in the Army, as well as of chaplaincy at Olympic Games. Meanwhile Mary, currently lead chaplain to Humberside Police, has wide experience of sports chaplaincy at Olympic Games both home and abroad, the World Athletics Championships, and Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Mary has been a chaplain at both the Athens 2004 Olmypic Games and London 2012 Olympic Games.
image: She also helped to instigate a chaplaincy service at Royal Ascot racecourse.

Peter explained how the ideal chaplain is non-judgemental, and is able to connect with the person behind the athlete. He said: “It’s a huge responsibility. When athletes have been training for their whole life it can be hard for them to take coming second or third. “I remember at the Athens Olympics in 2004 when an athlete was distraught at getting a silver medal. He saw himself as the first loser. “Emotions will play a huge part and we are aware of the honour that’s been given to us. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. “It will be a bit of a rollercoaster because with my military background I know a lot of what the athletes have gone through.

“These games show their journey from injury to where they are now – the cream of the crop.”

The athletes who will compete for Team GB will be announced on May 8, and the games will take place in Toronto between September 23 and September 30.

Mary, often seen in and around Grimsby conducting church services and Armistice Day services, spoke of her excitement ahead of the games.

She said: “It’s a huge honour and a privilege to be invited to spend time with people at such significant times in their lives.

“It a fulfilling feeling that you get out of it because you know you are providing support.

“It will be fun but it will be hard work and it can be draining.

“It’s going to be really good. I love sport. And the added thing for these guys and girls is that they have given so much already.

“They are inspiring people.”