Former Able Seaman Debby Beeson, 43, turned to Help for Heroes in 2015, 20 years after lower back injuries from a car crash during service left her with severely limited mobility and in time led to depression. The accident and its after-effects have been difficult for both Debby and her mum Sue, who has been supporting her.
Debby’s injuries, which see her having to use a mobility scooter to move around, brought about severe social anxiety and low self-esteem, meaning she struggled to get out of the house.
“It was any new place or new person,” said Debby. "I’d have to work up the confidence to do anything on my own and I hated it.”
Eventually Debby reached out to the Help for Heroes Plymouth Recovery Centre with Sue by her side. Sue explained: “Debby told me there was a recovery-type centre that she wanted to visit. What I didn’t count on was the Centre itself being the recovery for her mental wounds."
Sue, a retired caterer, expressed how much strain was put on her and Debby’s relationship after the accident: “Before, she was a grown woman and was off doing her own thing, but after the accident I’ve had to be more aware of her wellbeing. I have to think about the fact that she has her good days and bad days and I have to be in tune with that.
The Beesons credit the continued strength of their relationship to the support that Help for Heroes provided.
“Debby has come on leaps and bounds,” Sue notes. “Not physically so much, but mentally the difference is extreme. The whole ethos of the Recovery Centre and going there gives us both so much. Just sitting in the café with a coffee having some familiar banter with the other beneficiaries is brilliant."
Debby did not think she would ever overcome her anxiety, but having access to the facilities provided by Help for Heroes has improved her mental wellbeing and self-esteem so much that she now regularly takes part in multiple activities each week, often with mum Sue joining in, including wood whittling, willow-weaving and adaptive yoga. And she swims over a mile almost daily. Occasionally Debby’s dad Carl, also a Navy veteran injured in service, takes part in the activities too.
Debby said: “It’s given me back a lot of my confidence, my self-esteem has improved and it has given me a reason to get up in the morning. I think back to two years ago and think about what I was doing. I was just existing, I wasn’t really living.
“I like the routine and being out and about, it’s really been the best possible thing for me and mum. We do so much together now and it’s brought us so much closer.”
Sue added: “We're ecstatic that Help for Heroes had the support available and were willing to help. We’re eternally grateful.”