Ali’s Story

ali-spearing-aAli served as an officer in the Royal Engineers and lost both his legs as a result of an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011. Thanks to the support from the military and the generosity of the wider community, Ali successfully progressed through rehabilitation and rebuilt his life.

Ali resides in a beautiful location surrounded by stunning Scottish hills and forestry. Ali was determined to enjoy the outdoor pursuits he had prior to his life changing injuries, but faced a considerable obstacle.

Ali Said:

“I live in a beautiful part of Scotland surrounded by forests and hills but, as you can imagine, this is challenging terrain for prosthetics and wheelchairs.”

A financial grant was provided through The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund for Ali to purchase an off-road hand bike as a means to enjoy his outdoor pursuits.

Ali continues:

“I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be able to jump on the bike and get out into the hills again. It is these simple pleasures which make such a difference. t really has made such a difference to my enjoyment of life. I am never off the thing now. I managed to roll it going round a track bend to fast so now my wife has forced me to wear a helmet. The dog is exhausted from all the long walks he is getting as well.”

Ali wrote an incredibly emotional letter of thanks to the Seath family who are overwhelmed David’s legacy has provided the vital support Ali deserves having given so much in service of his country.

Ali said:

“I am deeply sorry for your loss, I never knew David but share in the grief as all who are in the military feel when they hear about the passing of a brother officer. I want you to know that David’s legacy is bringing joy and life to many others.”

Neil’s Story

NeilAfghanistan veteran Neil Edward Jones received a financial grant from The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund to purchase a kayak and equipment as part of his sports recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),

Having returned from Afghanistan, PTSD took a firm hold of Neil’s day-to-day life, and he has shown incredible courage in sharing his story with us and describing how the financial grant he has received from The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund has assisted in rebuilding his life.

“I have lost everything in my life and I let PTSD dictate my life up until recently. After losing my family and home with an addiction to Alcohol and with no reason to live I would close the curtains by 2pm-3pm in the day, get drunk to try an enable me to sleep for a few hours prior to 04.45 hrs every day where my nightmares start.

“My whole clock revolved around my nightmares and worrying for the next night; I was tied with no strength and no will to live, there was just no point to keep on fighting a war years later which is tiring with no sign of peace. If I went to a supermarket or busy place I would see an illusion of a little Afghan Girl pulling on my leg, a real memory of an operation I was involved in where I had taken a high profile terrorist prisoner at 04.45 hrs on an operation in his home with his daughter screaming and crying trying to fight me as I dragged her farther away from her.

“The world is a better and safer place with this bad man away, however I still have guilt for his daughter maybe my daughter was the same age at the time or similar age, and this vision has stuck with me to this day. Trying to walk into a busy place like Tesco’s and be normal is extremely hard with a little girl fighting, kicking and pulling your leg screaming at you. Together with the nightmare’s you believe you can never be well enough to work, care for your family or have any sort of life.

“I began to fight back a few months ago; after being homeless, I was first stabilised in a veterans shared home with support then I was housed with an apartment in Cardiff Sports Village with a view of the water from my chair in a corner looking out the window. Therapy is seldom and it feels like there is no end to the life and that it just can’t progress. But I would look at the water and say to myself, if I can get on that water I can train myself to get better for my kids, and just be someone again; not the man I was but if I could take Daniel, my 5 year old son, and Helena, my 3 year old daughter, to do something with me, even if they can some day watch me, they may remember me for something, as they are too young to know me as anything else.”

Neil regularly kayaks with a group of fellow veterans through the Cardiff Veterans Outdoor Activity Club and his recovery continues to go from strength-to-strength.

Tony, a fellow member of the Cardiff Veterans Outdoor Activity Club said:

“I’ve only known Neil for a couple of months; but as a former commando, I’ve seen a number of lads struggle with the challenges of war. His immersion in to kayaking (apologies for the pun!) has unlocked something. Neil has grown in self-esteem and stature. A natural leader, as he encourages those around him he is learning to laugh again and enjoy what he is doing. The banter, the sense of identity and purpose, and his clear intent to achieve something hitherto unknown has helped him find a channel and establish new friendships.

“He appears to have created the ‘space’ to think about life ahead, establish plans, and have a clear goal centred around his family. I can only thank both the donors and trustees of the Captain David Seath Memorial Fund – you should be proud that you are taking forward David’s memory through your generosity. I didn’t have the honour to serve with David while I was in the Corps; but my guess knowing a good many gunner commandos is that he and Neil would have got on – professional, mutual respect, underwritten by humour and humility.”

Neil continues:

“I have no regrets with reference to my career and life, I write this letter with a huge amount of pride in my heart and a tear in my eye. I was taken back by the Captain David Seath Memorial fund and how it has helped me and other’s through a financial grant for kayaking equipment to assist with my sport recovery.

“It is a great honour to receive your support from The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund and I am very grateful, It’s extremely hard to talk about let alone write about, but I really want you to know in some form, the difference the financial grant has made to me. Please also remember David with pride and thank you for your fantastic help and dedication to other Veterans.”

Mark’s Story

Hiscutt letter (dragged) 1Mark Hiscutt has sent a wonderful letter of thanks to the Captain David Seath Memorial Fund, who recently received financial support from us to assist in purchasing woodwork tools and a lathe as part of his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) recovery pathway.

Mark said:

“I am a veteran of the Falklands War and served onboard HMS Sheffield as an Able Seaman (Missle) or in old money a Gunnery Rate. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2001 after I had a breakdown. Up until then I had masked my illness through drink and concentrating on my wife who had an eating disorder that is thought to be due to the war. When I knew that everything was okay my body just let out the 18 years of grief I had been hiding.

“Having a hobby is important as it helps to relax you and take your mind off things going around round your brain. In 2016 I had to take early retirement due to my PTSD and it was suggested that I take up a hobby. After asking in my pensions I had a little workshop built (my occupational therapy room) that is fully insulated, heated and with lighting as well as a nice chair and radio. Firstly, I thought of whittling, then carving so I purchased a cheap set of tools and started to teach myself. I started thinking about woodturning after watching some demonstrations in a local store but I knew I could not afford to purchase the equipment I needed.
“The last time I did any wood turning was in woodwork classes back at school in 1976, so I have watched a awful lot of You Tube videos and teaching myself. I have made five pieces so far and have put my name down for a woodturning course with Help for Heroes in November. While I am in my little workshop I can escape from my thoughts and it helps with my concentration which, to be blunt, is rubbish. It also gives Kirsty my wife a break from me, who has been my rock over the past 35 years and I do not know what I would do without her, I lover her so much.

“I wish to keep you updated on my progress and hope to one day send you something I have made using the lathe that the Captain David Seath Memorial Fund has helped to purchase. David’s legacy to us has helped so many service personnel and veterans, including myself, to move forward with our lives and I am eternally grateful.”

We offer our sincere thanks to Mark for coming forward and wish him well with regards to his ongoing PTSD recovery pathway.

Ben’s story

Ben NorfolkCaptain David Seath Memorial Fund beneficiary, Ben Norfolk, has very kindly provided permission to share his recent letter of thanks with us, having received financial support to complete a welding training course as part of his recovery pathway.

Ben said:

“I was involved in an incident at Camp Bastion in 2008 during my time as a Chinook Engineer & I saw on a few occasions the effects of conflict. This slowly took its toll on me and in 2012 I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD, Anxiety and Depression.

“As my condition developed & my mental health deteriorated, I lost all confidence and self esteem. For over two years during my treatment, I felt lost & like I had no direction or purpose. During this time I completely stripped my race mini back down to component parts, mirroring how I saw my life going.

“After a few shall we call ‘life defining moments’ and a stay in hospital, I started to recover & began to rebuild my mini, finding a new enjoyment in the welding jobs I needed to do. Concentrating on keeping that tiny little pool of molten aluminium moving with the torch in one hand, feeding in filler wire with the other hand and controlling the amount of current with a foot pedal is a real test of co-ordination, but the results can be fantastic and give me a sense of achievement in something again.

“To complete the training course has been invaluable in allowing me to gain the knowledge to set up the welding machine how I need it, rather than through trial and error. I am currently doing some work for a Vintage Bentley restorer, so ‘Right First Time’ is definitely necessary!

“I am also involved with (H4H supported) Mission Motorsport – the Forces charity that uses motorsport to engage wounded/injured/sick military personnel in activities that assist recovery & retraining. They have supported me a great deal in recent years with practical help and guidance on my journey back to wherever my health will end up & introduced me to new friends in similar situations who just know how others feel – that acceptance has been key.

“Whilst this may not be exactly how you envisioned David’s legacy to be realised(!), I hope I have managed to portray a little of what it means to feel rediscover life and not feel like an outcast on the fringes of society, as poor mental health can make people sometimes feel.

“To deal with obstacles and not give in to adversity was something I’m sure David would have become accustomed to during his military career and for you to create such a legacy in his name shows you also have; the assistance you offered me has given me the opportunity to do the same.”

Kevin’s Story

The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund provided a welfare grant to Kevin, through Help for Heroes, as a means to participate in the Mayfield Nursery Horticultural Project as part of his recovery pathway for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mayfield Nursery Horticultural Project provides a place for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities to attend the nursery and develop skills and confidence to gain employment, volunteer, or make positive steps towards improving their mental health.

Kevin said:

Chamomile plant in herb garden

“I would like to thank the Captain David Seath Memorial Fund for their kindness and help in support of my recovery pathway. Sometimes my illness holds me back, but now I have something to look forward to as it gets me out of my home which, at times, feels like a prison.

“I’m so proud that David’s legacy has helped my recovery. Some people class me as a hero but David and his family are the real heroes. Thank you for everything, it means a lot to me that I might be able to start living again.”

Julian’s Story

We received a wonderful letter of thanks from Julian Allen who received a specialist bed to assist with his recovery pathway, following surgery on his back.

Julian AllenJulian served in the 2nd Battalion Light Infantry, and injured his back in Germany which, at the time, appeared innocuous. However, following several tours in Northern Ireland the problem escalated in terms of severity.

Having left the Army, Julian underwent surgery in June 2016 and a specialist bed was purchased to assist in his recovery through the Captain David Seath Memorial Fund.

The benefits of quality rest and recuperation were felt almost immediately as Julian progressed from a wheelchair to walking with a stick a short time after surgery.

Julian said:

“Thank you very much for the help with funding for my new bed, it’s helped a great deal since my back operation. I am very grateful and humbled and words cannot say enough, but I will never forget.

My story, compared to others, is nothing and I have seen former servicemen worse then me and what you guys do in the name of David is amazing ..thank you again.”

Andy’s Story

Andy WilmerWe are delighted to have received a letter of thanks from Andy Wilmer, who proved one of the first #veterans to benefit from David’s legacy in 2016. Andy received funding to gain NEBOSH qualifications, as a means to assist him make the difficult transition to civilian life, and secure employment as a Project Manager within the construction Sector.

“I want to start by thanking you and all of David’s family for setting up his memorial fund. Without the Quick Reaction Fund money that I received I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am now after I was injured. I suffered an eye injury in 2013 after a freak accident on Salisbury Plain. I was subsequently medically discharged in 2015 after serving for 13 years in the Royal Engineers. I was ill prepared for the civilian world and after doing several courses I wanted to do my NEBOSH general construction and health and safety certificates. I unfortunately didn’t have the money to pay for the deposit so applied for a grant from Help for Heroes. It was accepted and I was advised I was one of the first beneficiaries of the Captain Seath Memorial Fund.

“I initially started the courses in 2016 and managed to pass four or the five elements needed first time, however the last element I found much more difficult. One because I was away from the classroom environment and two because I was essentially trying to pass via distance learning. After four attempts of the 2 hour written exam I finally found out I passed the last element in January this year (2020). Four years of re-sit after re-sit and many late nights of revision an cramming.

“I wouldn’t have persisted if it wasn’t for David though. I didn’t want to let his death be for nothing. I felt a massive sense of duty to honour his legacy by passing that final element and sticking with it in the British Army way. The fact I was in the process of doing my NEBOSH qualification will have no doubt helped in securing some of the roles I have had, and will I’m sure he’ll me massively going forward. I wouldn’t have been able to do those courses if it wasn’t for the money I received, and I wouldn’t have received it if the memorial fund hadn’t been set up.

“I’d like to say thank you to you and able of David’s family for being there to help me and many other people like me. David will never be forgotten and through stories like mine he will live on and continue to help the many people and help them to make the most of the support received.”

Over £300,000 has now been raised in support of David’s legacy which has been used to award two hundred and forty-eight welfare grants, through Help for Heroes Quick Reaction Fund as well as support over eight hundred personnel, veterans and their families through Help for Heroes’ Fellowship Programme in Scotland.

Please help ensure our work continues in supporting this who have experienced physical and psychological trauma in service of their country by making a donation in support of The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund

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