Former LBdr Daniel Richards had just returned from deployment in Afghanistan when he was involved in a near fatal motorbike accident. To this date Dan has no memory of the impact, but he lives daily with the multiple injuries including the amputation of his right arm and shoulder.
Dan arrived at Tedworth House in March 2012 after being medically discharged from the Military. While initially apprehensive about returning to ‘Civvi Street’, he says his time in the house ‘lightened the blow.’
While at Tedworth, Dan fully involved himself with the practical support available. In just six months he completed and passed the Numeracy and Literacy Level 2 course ITQ Level 2, both of which boosted his CV.
Dan also embraced the social side of Tedworth and took up a variety of offers available through the Help for Heroes Band of Brothers network. He went sailing with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, built a guitar from scratch, went backstage at a KISS concert, volunteered at the Help for Heroes Tin Hut, went Wing Walking with Breitling and he even took part in the Paralympic Closing Ceremony!
In his own words, Dan says: “I think Tedworth House is a God send, it gave me a place to live and focus on my future as opposed to sitting at home. As soon as I rolled through the doors I instantly felt welcome and as if I belonged. Everything is here, right at your fingertips if you need anything whether it’s from the one of the other charities in the support hub or Help for Heroes. Whether you’re Serving or a veteran, the doors at Tedworth House are open and it’s for that reason that a lot of the worry of leaving is more or less taken away.”
However like many, Dan initially struggled to find work;
"I applied for 327 jobs over the best part of a year and didn't get one interview. It was my lack of experience, apparently. And I had no skill I could transfer over because of my injuries."
Dan says he became withdrawn as a result of all the rejection letters but the Help for Heroes Pathfinder Experience and the Recovery Career Service continued to support Dan. Finally, after introducing Dan to a new company in south west London that specialises in employing Veterans, we had a breakthrough!
Capstar Chauffeurs is the brainchild of two former Army officers: fund manager Rob Bassett-Cross and former Jaguar Land Rover consultant Charlie Bowmont.
"So many of those core military skills of discipline, discretion, integrity, timeliness, and outstanding turnout are exactly those qualities you would want a chauffeur to have," he says. “We want it to be like a company squadron office here”
Capstar is certainly keen to advertise its military connections. Each car carries the regimental-style company badge on its front grille, and drivers must wear their regimental ties on duty - often sparking conversations with passengers. This suits Dan down to the ground!
We are thrilled to hear that Dan is growing from strength to strength in his role and it’s given him the second fulfilling career he’s been searching so hard for. Sitting proudly in the driver's seat of a brand new top-of-the range Jaguar, Dan Richards reflects on what a difference the role is making;
"This has given me a whole new lease of life, and a new skill and trade. I'll speak for myself and others who have come through a recovery like this: we don't want sympathy, we want opportunity. And Capstar has given me that opportunity."