A weightlifter, who was inspired to become a nurse in London thanks to the support he received when seeking asylum from Cameroon, is set to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this weekend.

Cyrille Tchatchet II, a physical health lead nurse for Harrow inpatient and community mental health teams, will be representing the Olympic Refugee Team in the men’s 96kg weightlifting category on Saturday.

Mr Tchatchet II came to the UK from Cameroon in 2014, after competing at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

For reasons he finds difficult to discuss, after the competition Mr Tchatchet II took what he had with him and fled from the Cameroon’s team base and travelled to Brighton.

Just 19 years old at the time, he slept rough for two months and, at times, had felt suicidal.

It was while living under a bridge that he saw a sign for the Samaritans helpline for support and shortly after was taken into police custody and his asylum case to remain in the UK began.

 

Two years later, Mr Tchatchet II received his leave-to-remain status, meaning he is able to live in the UK.

However, during those two years, his mental health suffered and he was prescribed antidepressants and was advised by his GP to keep busy – which took him back to weightlifting.

He then went on to break British records and has since become a British Champion competing in the 94kg class and 96kg class.

But as well as weightlifting, he said it was the support of the healthcare professionals who had helped him through, and told how this had inspired him to become a nurse.

“I wanted to work in the mental health profession after going through what I call scary things,” said Mr Tchatchet II, who is employed by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust and qualified as a nurse in 2019.

“I was looked after by my GP and some nurses who showed compassion, care and were very open and listened to me. I wanted to give back some of the support I had received.”

As a physical health lead nurse, Mr Tchatchet II supports patients with severe mental health illnesses to have a comprehensive annual physical health check, to help them feel healthy and have a greater sense of self-esteem.

He said he felt he brought a lot of compassion and understanding to the role. “I enjoy engaging with my patients and being that person they can talk to openly without fear of being judged,” he said.

Having travelled to Tokyo for the Olympic Games this summer, Mr Tchatchet II is set to represent the Olympic Refugee Team in the men’s 96kg weightlifting category on Saturday.

“I will be honoured to represent not just refugees but all the estimated 80 million displaced people around the world,” he said. “I will also be representing my profession and the NHS.”

Central and North West London’s chief nurse, Maria O’Brien, congratulated him on reaching the games and for “showing strength in weightlifting but also in championing mental health support and compassion and for being a nurse”.

“Patients need to know there’s hope for a brighter future to feel better and your story is an inspiration to all those patients who need to know that,” she said about Mr Tchatchet II.

Source: Nursing Times