A former paratrooper has spoken about how Help for Heroes helped turn his life around after injuries sustained during service left him confined to a wheelchair in 2010.
53-year-old John Prosser from Caerphilly in South Wales is encouraging other potential beneficiaries to come forward for support too. John spent 25 years in the Army, serving in the Parachute Regiment and Royal Logistical Corps. John struggled with the transition from army life, particularly while his home was adapted to accommodate his changing needs.
“It was a very, very difficult time. I was very angry, very frustrated. Not a very pleasant person to be with,” he says.
There was an impact on his family too. According to John, “It affected my wife Lesley a lot, she had to give up work to look after me full time. It was very difficult to see a way forward in my life.” John’s injury had put the brakes on his training regimen, something he previously relished.
“I was always very active, always doing long-distance running, rowing. Basically, when I was discharged after my last surgery, my life was reduced to one room; that was my life for six months while the house was rebuilt and extended to be adapted to my new situation.”
A turning point came when John learned about the work Help for Heroes was doing to help wounded and injured servicemen and women and he became one of the first people to receive support at Tedworth House Recovery Centre. Since then the support he’s received has been based in the community, with Sports Recovery activities close to his home in South Wales.
John and Lesley have been keen to give back to the charity which has supported them so much. They regularly take part in fundraising events and activities across Wales. John says, “It helps me feel that I am doing my bit to support the charity.”
Lesley says Help for Heroes has made, “a huge difference. Without them I don't where we would be today. I’m very grateful for help and support that they have given John.”
Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery Coordinator for Wales, Emily Griffiths, is proud of everything John has achieved. Emily says “John has come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months that I have been working with him. I have always known that sport has played a big part in John’s life even before his injury. Post-injury, this has been a key part in his recovery and is used as a coping strategy to help with his daily frustrations.
John not only is using Sports Recovery to aid himself, but is a great advocate for the service with those who are new to the charity, and when he is about in a voluntary capacity.
It has been great to see John grow and I look forward to see what we have to come!”
Help for Heroes provided John with the loan of a handbike to train with, and he’s become a familiar sight on the roads around Caerphilly as he’s worked on building his fitness.
John says the improvement in his wellbeing has helped him cope with the chronic pain he’s experienced because of his injury, and he’s managed to reduce his medication since taking up exercise again. “From being isolated in my house, in one room for six months, it was really life changing for me, it gave me back that focus in my life.”