Armed forces veterans from across south Wales have taken part in a Help for Heroes Sports Recovery residential course at Margam Country Park. It’s the first time the iconic Welsh landmark has played host to the charity, with the grade 1 listed building making a stunning backdrop to a range of sporting activities over the 3-day event.
Organised by Help for Heroes’ Community Recovery team, based in Treforest, the aim was to provide an opportunity for wounded, injured and sick military personnel, to come together and improve their physical health and psychological wellbeing.
Activities at Margam included archery, paddle boarding, mountain biking, and orienteering. All chosen for their physical and mental health benefits, with Help for Heroes’ underlying philosophy that those who have served together recover better together.
Trying archery was a highlight for Anthony Lock, 36, from Newport, as the former Corporal with the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh scored a bullseye during his first session. Anthony was injured by an IED in Afghanistan in 2009, leaving him with a serious spinal and brain injury. For him, the camaraderie of the event was a major factor in taking part. He said, “Because everyone’s similar, they’ve all got their own problems. Just being together, we all help each other, give each other advice. When we’re feeling down we have a laugh.”
Falklands veteran, David Hodge, 55 served with the Welsh Guards. He’s been supported by Help for Heroes following a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For David, having the event close to his home in Newport was a deciding factor in taking part in the residential course, “I don’t get out of the house much, especially on my own, and with this event being just down the M4 it’s been an easy first event for me to take part in.”
Jim Whitworth, 47, lives in Merthyr Tydfil and praised Help for Heroes Sports Recovery, which he has taken part in for over a year. Jim encouraged other veterans who may benefit from the charity’s support to come forward. The former Sergeant Major in the Royal Artillery has spinal injuries and PTSD following his service. He said, “This has been imperative to my recovery. You need to be looking at the rest of your life, not just the next six months, and that’s key.”
Help for Heroes Community Recovery Manager Shelley Elgin said, “Help for Heroes is committed to providing on-the-ground support to veterans and serving personnel across Wales, in their community and at special events like the Margam Residential. We want those who have been affected by Service and their loved ones to know that we are here to support them in their recovery when they are ready.”
“We have a team of specialist key workers, sports recovery coordinators and clinical liaison staff who know what support is available to ex-forces personnel and are passionate about ensuring everyone gets a fair deal. We believe that those who put their lives on the line for us deserve a second chance at life for them and their families”Learn more about recovery in Wales