Gary served in the Royal Navy for 12 years which included land-based operations in the Former Yugoslavia during the mid-90s. He attended F4H’s course in November 2015 after spending several years in a dark place; he felt there was no hope and no-one cared. Having spent 4 days in the Lake District he can say with 100% certainty that it was life changing. He came away a different person and with, for the first time in many years, a new prospective on life. If it was not for the help of F4H he does not think he would be here now. As well as now being F4H’s Official Photographer, he helps at any point he can and promotes F4H from a personal perspective and encourages any veteran or service leaver who might find transition a challenge to approach our ‘amazing charity’. He is also looking forward to getting married, having met his fiancé through Brathay and F4H! He also has applied and may well be selected for Invictus Games, 2020!
Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Roach
Ronnie has PTSD and in June 2008 had a catastrophic breakdown that left her with amnesia, she was found on the motorway in her nightclothes by the police.
At hospital she was angry. She never once said she didn’t know who she was – at that point she didn’t realize she didn’t know – all the information she could give them was her RAF service number. Waking up later she noticed her hospital wristband had written on it: ‘Unknown female’. She went from angry to devastated, frightened and vulnerable. Later still Ronnie’s 2 sons were brought to her bedside: she didn’t feel anything for them because ‘I didn’t know them’. She had lost their first words, first step, first tooth, first day at school, all their birthdays and all their Christmases. Back home, a place not recognised, she got to know and love them again…a harrowing experience.
F4H ‘saved’ her. Ronnie attended our four-day course. She found it so emotional…yet safe to finally be able to open up with like-minded and understanding people and not be judged or ridiculed. ‘It’s one thing to feel ready to talk…finding someone to listen is the hardest part’. She turned life on its head. Regarding her sons: ‘I’ve lost their past, but I have their future AND I now have grandchildren, so life is worth living’. Listen to Ronnie’s experiences.
Andy served 8 years in the Army Catering Corps both regular and reserves and worked 20 years with the NHS. Medically retired in 2013, PTSD flared again in 2014 and he attended a number of veteran courses to get him back into work. In 2015 Andy attended F4H, a ‘…fantastic course’. Since then he has moved forward in life working and volunteering with veterans and their families. He supports F4H in any way he can, sign-posting those who might benefit from attending whilst returning each year in May for the follow-up weekend (and support to the Brathay Windermere Marathon) a ‘great chance of meeting up with old friends and meeting new’. Andy offers support to anyone feeling low or just wanting someone to listen. He is now working in social care and is soon to be married.
In September 1989 following a serious attempt to take his own life Mark was diagnosed with PTSD. Fast forward to 2015 and after many bouts of self-harm and attempts on his life he was found by Walking with the Wounded at the top of a multi-storey car park ready to jump. They introduced him to F4H and the ‘start of a life worth living’. F4H gave him the tools to manage and cope with his illness and actually live life. The course was ‘life changing’. It gave Mark so much belief and confidence in himself that he can accomplish ‘anything’: since 2015 he has run 4 marathons, cycled from Newcastle upon Tyne to Surrey and competed the Marathon des Sables for WWTW. He has strength and belief that he can achieve whatever he chooses. More importantly he is happy. He now loves his life and has moved to the Lake District ‘where it began’. Mark adds that ‘…F4H has the most amazing people I have had the privilege to meet along this incredible journey’.