Fiona Watt, 40, from Ipswich, has been attending the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester for 5 years. She signed up to be a Band of Sister when her serving husband got involved with Help for Heroes following a career-changing injury.
“We’ve both tried so many different activities since becoming involved with the charity; it’s really broadened our horizons. Callum has been skiing, been to outdoor activity days, has frequent sports massages and has received help with gaining work placements from the careers adviser. He even went to Canada on a Winter Sports Camp.
"I’ve done Pilates classes, had respite weekends, attended coffee mornings and done craft classes. However, you can also just pop in for a coffee and relax in the garden if you’re having a particularly stressful day. The staff are ready to talk whenever you’re ready to talk”.
Fiona continued: "I’ve made so many friends at the Recovery Centre; those who are going through a similar journey to you who just understand. It’s an accepting and supportive environment; sometimes you don’t even need to say anything for someone to know how you’re feeling.
"After Callum was discharged we didn’t have that close-knit Army family around us anymore and we felt a little lost in the civilian world. Chavasse VC House became a sort of Halfway House; full of military banter and understanding faces. There was a time where we both suffered from depression and the Recovery Centre became a ‘Mental Health Sanctuary’ for us”.
Fiona’s husband, 44-year-old Callum who grew up in Shropshire, was a Warrant Officer in the Royal Logistics Corps and over the course of his 24-year career toured Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo. His army career, which started at aged 16, came to a sudden end when he was injured on an adventure training exercise. The couple felt isolated and like they were “now fighting their own battles alone” after Callum was medically discharged in July 2014.
Fiona, who grew up in Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire, learned about H4H from a social worker at Headley Court.
“When I walked through the doors of Help for Heroes for the first time I finally felt like someone was on our side and that people genuinely cared about us. I also felt like I mattered for once. All the questions had previously been focused on Callum, but now people were interested in how I was feeling."
"I began to appreciate that looking after myself, through the various events I attended and techniques I learnt at the Recovery Centre, was important too. H4H knows that to look after our veterans the loved ones must be physically and mentally well too. I felt like I finally counted.”
Big or small, every donation makes a difference to our wounded Servicemen and women and their loved ones.