Growing up with a father that worked for NATO, the Armed Forces had always fascinated Glyn Cassidy ever since he was a schoolboy. First joining up in 1996 with 23 Pioneer Regiment and serving in Bosnia, he transferred to the Army Air Corps where he spent eight months deployed in Northern Ireland.
It was during a paragliding competition in June 2015 when Glyn first noticed he was getting chest pains. Initially believing it to only be indigestion, nothing could’ve prepared him for the subsequent diagnosis: “I had triple vessel disease. My world just collapsed. All I could think about were my wife and kids, leaving them behind.”
Despite a successful emergency quadruple heart bypass, Glyn didn’t know how he would be able to live anything close to a normal life. Being on regular medication to keep his heart rate down had made him feel like a shadow of the soldier he had been for so long: “I’m always going to be limited because of my heart and that’s hard knowing I’m never going to be able to go out and fully push myself to the limit again.”
With the possibility of being discharged from the Army and the knowledge of a long recovery process, Glyn stayed at home feeling worried and uncertain about the future for himself and his family. It was then that his unit placed him on a woodworking course and the Roundhouse Project with Help for Heroes, which would later lead to him becoming part of Heritage Heroes: “I really enjoyed the course and then I got the email about Heritage Heroes. I love the outdoors and nature so decided I wanted to pursue a job in that.”
A partnership between Canal & River Trust and Help for Heroes, Heritage Heroes offers the opportunity for wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel, Veterans and their families to transform waterways throughout England and Wales, all whilst gaining accredited qualifications.
For Glyn, the project has enabled him to not only get out and be active again, but also to work towards a future outside of the Armed Forces: “If it wasn’t for Heritage Heroes I would probably still be sat at home worrying about what I was going to do. I’ve been given the chance to learn new skills and find out what I can do without being under pressure. You’re out in lovely parts of the country and it’s great being back with the lads – it puts a smile on your face. I’m hoping this is going to lead to me getting a job in the conservation and land-based sector once I’ve left the military.”