Our Story – How The Liferaft Came About

Life can be hard.

And if you’re experiencing ANY kind of stress, emotional turmoil or difficulty right now – including health problems, money worries, work demands, relationship issues and everything in between – the Life Raft is definitely for you.

It offers a way for you to feel HAPPIER, STRONGER, HEALTHIER and more in control.

This is how we came to create it…

We’re Rob and Sally, and until 5 years ago we were an ordinary (if rather stressed) couple.

Sally was a stressed-out police sergeant dealing with a highly publicised investigation against the father of her son. She was also in the throes of an extremely acrimonious divorce. Money issues were never far from her mind, her health was suffering, and because of the effect these troubles were having on her young son, she was struggling under the burden of permanent guilt.

I was a stressed-out business owner running training courses for teachers. It was a hectic business and, combined with my missing ‘organisation gene’, it made every day a total frenzy. Most nights I couldn’t sleep, I often missed meals and I was always worrying about tomorrow. I was already worn down from caring for my family – my mother had Alzheimer’s and my father had both leukaemia and Parkinson’s disease – so the combined stresses left me completely exhausted and close to a breakdown.

We thought things couldn’t get worse. Then on 23rd May 2010 our lives were turned into something from a horror film. After a friendly housewarming party, an overnight guest attacked us with a carving knife from our own kitchen. In an unprovoked attack he stabbed us repeatedly as we lay asleep in bed. We weren’t expected to survive.

We woke up in intensive care and it was actually right there, at the beginning of our long and painful road to recovery, that the initial idea for The Liferaft came to us.

This excerpt from Sally’s diary will give you some background to what happened…CLICK HERE

In order to explain our very different coping strategies we devised a simple analogy: two vessels navigating the stormy seas of life in their very different ways. Sally’s vessel was a sleek, top-of-the-range motor cruiser fully equipped with state of the art navigation systems and high powered engines. Mine was a raft.

You see, Sally has an amazing brain for systems and organisation. She is able to take control coolly and calmly in very difficult situations – as a police sergeant in Newcastle upon Tyne she simultaneously managed multiple serious crime scenes. She approaches every task with precision, diligence and concentration. Within just 24 hours of waking up on the ward she knew the names of all the staff, their break times, our respective medication times, and the dosage we were both to be given! We thought the hyper-efficient motor cruiser metaphor just about summed her up.

While Sally coped by taking control, my strategy was to essentially lie down and let things ‘happen’. There are no bells and whistles on my raft, and often not even a rudder. But this attitude would actually serve us very well in our recovery – particularly when we faced the horrors of PTSD. We began to see that you can’t alter or change what happens in life but you can change what you do about it. And by changing our thoughts about the things we were dealing with, our experience changed too. Hence the tagline on our website -

When your thoughts change… your world changes‘.

Whenever things got too much I would say ‘hop on my liferaft Sal, and let’s just drift; let go for a while.’ And we were amazed how well things seemed to progress by themselves. But this was only one strategy; as we discovered more methods to make ‘letting go’ easier, we piled them onto our make-believe raft to use during the incredibly difficult times.

One of the key strategies we have used as a result of what happened is meditation and mindfulness’.

I had discovered Transcendental Meditation around twenty years ago and had used it from time to time at certain difficult periods of my life, with mixed success. This was clearly one of those times when something was needed, so I returned to my practice as best I could.

Sally attended weekly classes at a local Buddhist centre she’d found in Carlisle. She became intrigued by the connections between mind, body and spirit and, as part of her mental and physical recovery, trained as a Pilates instructor. Up until then her way of coping had largely been to block out all emotion – when she could not cope with the pain she would try to control it by just blocking it out. This may sound like an effective solution but in reality she came to feel as though she was going insane. At her first meditation class she actually cried with relief; she had experienced her first 30 minutes of peace since the attack.

Together we were gaining so much from the limited meditation knowledge we had that we decided to explore it in more detail. We embarked on a 10 day retreat in Zen meditation and later trained as teachers ourselves to share the life-changing techniques we had learned.

There is no doubt in our minds that we survived the attack for a reason. Sally was stabbed 18 times around the head and suffered a punctured lung. And according to the two wonderful surgeons who worked on me, I had lost so much blood that I shouldn’t really be alive. By rights we should both have died and even today we still ask the question ‘why?’

As we lay together in my hospital bed (much to the amusement of other patients and annoyance of the ward sister) we felt that we had been given a chance to help other people. We decided that as soon as we were well enough, we would bring our make-believe Life Raft to life and start sharing the techniques we are so grateful for, and that have helped us so much.

In time we intend that the Life Raft Foundation will provide help to worthy people in all kinds of difficult circumstances and we hope to expand our network of trainers to provide a wide range of transformational tools.

(In case you’re wondering – the ‘smiley’ logo signifies the whole Life Raft story. On one hand it depicts the two of us on our raft, on the other it represents happiness. We hope you’ll join us on the raft and find your happiness too. :)