A brain damaged war veteran left unable to speak or walk properly is receiving support from Help for Heroes to ensure his home is safe to be in and to end his “living nightmare”.
Former Lance Corporal Simon Vaughan has been living in an unsafe home ever since his newly-purchased property in Shropshire had to be demolished and rebuilt for his needs. However, builders left it partially finished meaning it does not have a completion certificate and is deemed unsafe. Simon sought support from military charity Help for Heroes which has awarded him £5,000 to make the necessary changes to his home so it is safe to live in.
The grant from H4H is the 10,000th individual grant awarded since H4H started providing financial assistance in 2010.
Simon, 32, of Newport, Shropshire, suffered a serious brain injury when a Land Rover he was travelling in drove over an improvised explosive device in Musa Qala, Helmand Province on 6 December 2008. Army medics fought to keep him alive and his heart stopped beating at the scene of the attack, starving his brain of oxygen.
His family was told by doctors that his brain injuries were so severe he would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. In fact, medics were so convinced he would not survive the journey home that he boarded a plane with an obituary pinned to his bag. Simon, who was serving in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, also suffered a broken jaw, shattered pelvis, collapsed lungs, and broken back in the explosion. He remained in a coma for 44 days before beginning his long road to recovery.
In 2009, he and his now ex-wife bought a bungalow in Ercall Heath for £295,000 in cash without a survey. When construction work began to adapt it for Simon’s needs, builders discovered that the house was structurally unsafe. At a cost of £300,000 more, the bungalow had to be demolished and rebuilt. However, the work was only partially completed and it meant Simon has been living in a house deemed unsafe and without a completion certificate.
The £5,000 grant from Help for Heroes will enable Simon to make necessary home improvements to get the completion certificate including installing smoke detectors, repairing ceilings and cracks on the floor, a gas safety certificate for the boiler, installing vents and a gas bottle store.
Had the grant not been given, Simon, who also completed tours of Iraq in 2003 and Northern Ireland in 2005, would have had to stop paying for his speech and language therapy to afford the cost. He explained how it all took his toll on him.
“My mental health has really suffered,” he said. “I wasn’t sleeping and I was so frustrated all the time. I just became really angry when I realised the state the house was in.
“When I found out Help for Heroes were going to support me, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders and it relieves so much pressure. I’m look forward to having my happiest Christmas in a long time.”
Simon’s mother Lynne Baugh, 54, now her son’s full time carer, added: “The house needs to be suitable for a severely disabled person and at the minute, it’s nowhere near that standard. It’s just adding so much stress to what is already a difficult situation handling Simon’s disability and we nearly reached crisis point.
“Every day it is like waking up to a nightmare. It’s been hell. But finally we can see a way out and improvements can be done.”
Claire Barnes, Head of Grants at Help for Heroes, said: “At Help for Heroes, we are passionate about ensuring our wounded, injured and sick get the very best support to rebuild their lives. Often, they need financial support to kick-start a new career, receive psychological support, make necessary adaptations to their home, take up a new sport or in some instances, relieve their debt.
“We could not have delivered this essential support without the generous donations from the public who have answered the call to help our brave men and women of the Armed Forces.”
Since 2010, Help for Heroes have provided 10,000 individual grants to the wounded, injured and sick and their families to enable them to rebuild their lives, totalling £12,000,000.
Of those 10,000, 20% were for sporting activities, 18% for vocational purposes, 10% for housing and 18% for non-debt financial reasons. Grants are also given for issues such as debt, respite breaks, white and brown goods and psychological wellbeing.
If you’re wounded, injured and sick and need support, please visit Get Support.