An Army veteran from South Wales has set up two businesses after being the 100th wounded, injured and sick veteran to attend a self-employment course funded by Help for Heroes.
Carl Marsh, of Llantwit Major, South Wales has launched a celebrity interview website and a swimming instruction business thanks to support from the military charity.
He left the Army in 2010 after 12 years of service and one tour in Northern Ireland before he suffered a spinal injury and seven other health related issues which lead to him being medically discharged.
From there, he worked in the accounts department of the NHS but due to his injuries, he soon realised that this career would not work for him long term. The NHS did not provide the supportive framework he was afforded while in the army.
“The only option I had in the NHS was to work reduced hours. This proved to be a barrier for any future development and I felt demoralised. Ultimately, I knew things needed to change. Developing my own ideas and interests has been really rewarding - being self-employed is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
In 2012 Carl set up www.inthewordsof.com a celebrity interview website. Initially the website focused on interviewing authors but has now expanded into a platform where a variety of celebrities talk about their lives, their work and other general chatter.
“I enjoyed doing the interviews and was determined to make a success of the blog. I guess it was the military ethos where I got my drive from.
“Ultimately I want this to be my full-time career and to secure sponsorship for the website. I’m slowly building my network and gaining more followers so I now get to interview some really interesting people. My dream interviews would be with Quentin Tarantino or J.K. Rowling.”
Carl was able to expand his business as well as kick start a new endeavour, Swim Heroes, thanks to the Business Experience course, run in partnership with X-Forces, which offers support and guidance to those pursuing a future in self employment.
“X-Forces and Help for Heroes have given the motivation and information on how to take my ideas to the next level. It provides an excellent support network as well belief in yourself that you really can achieve your goals. My wife said she has never seen me so motivated.”
“Help for Heroes understand what a discharged soldier has been through, with medical conditions that are not always visible. There are no questions about who you are, what you’ve been through or “what`s wrong with you?”. Everyone I treated the same and there is no stigma.”
Carl is launching Swim Heroes in January 2018 and it is a product of Carl’s swim instruction training from the Army. With a passion for teaching others, he also found that swimming is a good way to help with his spinal injury. Currently, Carl works for other swim schools and teaching local schools, but has recently secured pool sessions at a local pool close to where he lives. The plan is to teach all ages and all levels, group and individual lessons, as well as teaching with children with learning disabilities.
He said moving to self-employment is one of the best things he’s ever done, and although he works around childcare and school hours, he finds being an entrepreneur incredibly rewarding.
“In terms of self-employment advice, I’d say just do it. It’s hard and you’ve got to battle with some demons but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. With organisations like Help for Heroes and X-Forces, there is so much support and advice there for you. They won't hand it to you on a plate, they expect you to do the leg work to make it a reality, but they are there every step of the way. All I can say is a big thank you to Help for Heroes and X-Forces for the opportunity; it’s amazing to see your hobby finally turning into your own business.”