Nine Chelsea Pensioners visited the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester, Chavasse VC House on Wednesday 15 April, to see for themselves how the charity is supporting wounded, injured and sick men and women of the armed forces and to share their stories with the younger serving personnel who are due to be medically discharged.
The visit highlighted how war and the injuries that our men and women sustain from service have a long term consequence. Our recently wounded veterans have many years ahead of them which mean their future needs are great. The Chelsea Pensioners were, however, able to will give the younger generation inspiration and hope for the future.
The scarlet clad veterans met Marty Wilson and Mick Macfadyen, both veterans of 2 PARA Regiment, who were injured during service. Marty, 42, a former Colour Sargeant, was injured in action whilst on tour in Helmond Province. He was shot in the head, leaving Marty’s left temporal lobe badly damaged which meant he could not speak, read or write. After spending one and half years at Headley Court, a further two years at the Colchester Recovery Centre, many sessions with a speech consultant and numerous recovery courses, Marty made a great recovery. Communication is still an everyday challenge and Marty admits he still has to work very hard to find the right words to say. Marty regular uses the Centre for various activities such as the monthly skiing classes, which are part of the Help for Heroes Sports Recovery sessions.
Marty and Mick, who was injured whilst on exercise during a parachute jump, talked at length with Chelsea Pensioner John McNaughton, 81, who served in the 3rd Battallion the Parachute Regiment and had completed 22 years’ service.
John said, “This Centre is fantastic, fantastic…I cannot say it enough. When I was discharged there was nothing like this. I went from being a soldier to being on the scrap heap. Thank goodness we have this facility.”
The weather was perfect for the veterans to swap stories about their many operations in the award-winning Chelsea Flower Show garden, Hope on the Horizon, which won the People’s Choice award during last years’ iconic flower show. For some of the pensioners this was the second time they had seen the garden which was designed to represent the recovery journey of our wounded service personnel. After a spot of lunch the group then took part in a friendly pitch and putt session on the Centre’s new putting green with Chelsea Pensioner Marjorie Cole getting a hole in one!
Chavasse VC House is one of four Help for Heroes run Recovery Centres and was officially opened in May 2012. It has 27 single bedrooms and two family rooms allowing for families to stay for respite if and when needed. The Centre also houses a Support Hub enabling access to a wide range of welfare support. It is available for those who have suffered life-changing injuries and illness while serving our country as well for their families whenever they need it, for life.
Click here to find out how our Recovery Centres could help you or a loved one.