A group of 15 wounded, injured and sick veterans, servicemen and women took part in an adaptive surfing programme run by Help for Heroes, and supported by the Endeavour Fund and Amazing Surf Adventures.
The week-long programme in Cornwall provided an environment where individuals worked to overcome perceived limitations of their physical and psychological disabilities.
It used surfing as a recovery activity by bringing participants together and exposing them to the healing power of the open water through adaptive surfing taught by world-class instructors. It formed part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme.
Neil Edwards, 37, of Chivenor joined the Army at the age of 16 and has served all over the world including Brunei, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2014 following his time in Afghanistan.
During leave in 2016 Neil suffered a relapse which put him in a world of pain for days and led to flashbacks. He was placed on long-term sick leave in December 2016, pending his medical discharge this November. He decided to get involved with Op Surf UK following a chance encounter with someone on last year’s course and explained how much getting involved had helped physically and psychologically.
“Surfing is something special, it is your time with the ocean. Everything around you - the worries, stress – just disappear and nothing else matters.
“To surf with like minded people who are after that same moment, it is going to be amazing. I hope that Op Surf UK will give me the confidence that I am not alone and the encouragement that I need to look forward to my discharge in November 2017.”
Ash Coles, from Tadley, is a former rifleman who had a car accident in 2010 and was subsequently medically discharged in 2013. He said: “Leaving the military means you also have to leave a family. Being around comrades again and experiencing a new challenge such as Op Surf UK is an amazing opportunity and something which will really help me on my journey to recovery.”