Meet the Veterans

Gillian Parker

"Living with depression following a medical discharge from the RAF, I turned my life around with the support of Help for Heroes and a number of other military charities.

Taking part in a gardening course at Tedworth House Recovery Centre I gained a City & Guilds qualification in Practical Horticulture, and a reason to leave the house.

With a re-built knee, l can’t stand for long periods of time. However, with the aid of adapted tools, veg trugs, as illustrated in the Stability section of the garden, I no longer struggle while gardening.

The course gave me my positivity back and a brand new career direction. Having regularly volunteered as a gardener at South Hill Park I am now officially employed there.

Rachel Willis

If like me you enjoy being surrounded by nature and birdsong, the Stability Section of our garden will give you an appreciation for the sights and sounds of the outdoors. It’s a calming space providing a sense of achievement as plants and flowers are grown from the seeds we have collected.

I travelled all over the world with the Army during my 21-year career in the military until a back injury resulted in a medical discharge. With injuries which left me in constant pain and fatigue, it was another ten years until I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Fibromyalgia in 2017.

I’ve always had a general interest in gardening, which I find helps distract me from turbulent times. It’s so good for my mental and physical health and has given me a second chance at life following my army career.

Gardening has also shown me that I can, and do want to, learn and am able to take on board new information.

Don Hodgson MBE

Help for Heroes supported me in studying horticulture which has been a great stabiliser in my life, empowering me to regain my purpose. Following a full and active career in the army, I suffered a stroke in 2009 leaving me with affected balance. Four years later I was involved in a car accident, breaking 11 ribs, four bones in my back and two in my neck – all of which left me with further compromised mobility.

I have some left-handed weakness and balance issues which make it difficult for me to bend right over but, as illustrated in the Stability Section, of our garden adaptive tools and raised bed have given me access to gardening, something I can take my time to enjoy without being overly strenuous.

Julie Cassidy

For me, the Support Section of the garden represents my relationship with the charity and, because of the Psychological Wellbeing they gave me access to, my relationship with gardening.

My husband Glyn served in the military for 22 years until a quadruple heart bypass ended his career. Looking after Glyn and our daughters really took its toll on me but we both found support from Help for Heroes who are there not only for injured military veterans but thankfully, in my case, their families also.

My new passion has given me a second chance at life and enabled me to find new purpose and new employment at Sparsholt College.

Cornelia Oosthuizen 

It was through gardening at Help for Heroes Recovery Centre Tedworth House that I was once again able to feel close to military folk and enjoy the camaraderie this brings.

I’ve always been very active – while a serving Major in the military I represented the Army and Combined Services in several sports until a sports injury left me with a functional impairment illness and reduced mobility.

The bench, the still pool and the planting including of the Support Section represent the comradeship of military life and the calm, reassuring presence Help for Heroes represents for all its beneficiaries and their families.

If you've been affected by your time in the British Armed Forces and want to get involved in Horticulture you can: