Former Sapper Billy Golbourn was deployed to Afghanistan with the Royal Engineers in November 2008. Whilst on a four day extended patrol, he experienced 38 degree heat while suffering a bitter -22 degrees each night.
Finally safe back at the Forward Operating Base, Billy was diagnosed with pneumonia which led to reactive arthritis and during his time recovering in hospital it was discovered Billy had complex regional pain syndrome;
"As soon as anything touched my hand, there was extreme pain. Even just the wind blowing through an open window would bring me to tears. "
Billy’s injuries mean he is often confined to a wheelchair or crutches and his medication regime recently resulted in him suffering a minor stroke. In addition to his physical injuries, Billy suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Help for Heroes initially supported Billy with £3,000 in 2011 to enable him to gain his yacht master qualification. This has supported him hugely in managing his PTSD;
“I went from having nightmares about Afghanistan to dreaming of sailing.”
Billy and his family emigrated to Australia in May 2013 and Billy successfully secured work in the sailing industry. However, within weeks his health deteriorated and he found himself hospitalised five times over the next few months. It was with regret that the company had to let Billy go. A series of part-time positions followed but Billy’s health issues and medical appointments made holding down regular hours impossible.
Desperately trying to keep her family afloat, Billy’s wife Amy secured intermittent work as a cleaner but balancing this around the couple’s six month old son and caring for Billy was pushing Amy to breaking point.
Billy and Amy are an inspirational couple and were not going to let this beat them. Together, they recognised they needed a solution that could be flexible to their needs and they are now attempting to establish their own cleaning business.
However having used all their savings, borrowed extensively from friends and family and maxed their credit options, the couple felt they had nowhere left to turn. Billy’s mother reached out to Help for Heroes and working together with ABF The Soldiers' Charity, the Charity agreed to support Billy and Amy with grant funding of £6,700. In addition to supporting the start-up costs of the couple’s cleaning business to ensure the best possible pathway to self-sufficiency, Help for Heroes relieved the couple of the debts that had mounted up due to Billy’s inability to work. This is giving the young family the fresh start they need.
Billy says: “You cannot believe how grateful we are for your help. When I read your email and shared it with my wife, we were both close to tears. It was getting to the stage of having to hand in our notice on our house to find other living arrangements, but this is the breakthrough that we needed.
"Help for Heroes has been pushing the cleaning business that we have started. Their help has enabled us to start making our own money and sustaining our own future which should keep us from falling back into this situation ever again.
"As a husband and a father, you cannot believe the stress and worry that you have relieved, and how much strain you have lifted on my medical recovery. For that I am truly thankful.
"Help for Heroes and the ABF have pulled through and helped us at a time when we need it most, and we cannot thank you enough.”
Help for Heroes and Billy would like to give special thanks to the Returned and Service League (RSL) of Australia for completing the case work on our behalf in Australia, a fantastic example of charities working together for the benefit of individuals.