Tracy Worsnop, 37, of Seacroft, Leeds, joined the Army when she was 19 years old because she wanted to be challenged. She ended up completing two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan before her life changed completely and a heart attack at 35 left her paralysed down one side.
In 2015, she began suffering abnormal pains whilst based in Germany. She experienced pain in her gullet area and knew something wasn’t right.
“I found it hard to stand up properly. It was difficult to sit down and lie down, the pain was that intense.”
She was soon rushed straight to hospital where she underwent emergency heart surgery when they noticed her ruptured aorta. Within one week of her surgery, she suffered two seizures and a stroke.
“The whole episode left me feeling like someone had just taken the carpet from right beneath my feet; I felt helpless and hopeless, like I had nothing to live for.”
Despite falling into depression, Tracy was determined her setbacks would not define her future and, through Help for Heroes and The Prince’s Trust, has found a way to continue making a positive impact on society.
“My speech was affected and I was unable to serve, but I knew that I wanted to help young people and to put my experiences to good use.”
The partnership is set up to offer wounded, injured and sick Veterans the opportunity of inspiring and leading disadvantaged young people. More than that, it’s a chance for Veterans to be part of The Force for Good in their local community, meet local businesses, use practical skills, be a positive role model and work with others as a team.
"Looking back, I had lost a sense of purpose in my life which had been missing for a long time. I now know that there is definitely the career path for me."
Tracy was placed with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service as an Assistant Team Leader to support the delivery of the Team programme, a 12-week personal development course for unemployed young people.
“When I joined the programme, I was immediately made to feel at ease, from both the delivery partners and the young people. I was nervous at first, and being in such a new environment was difficult to begin with. On Day 1, I hardly spoke to anyone, as I was so nervous about my speech. But I quickly learnt how to adapt and how to overcome my anxiety. I realised how much I was able to contribute when I put my mind to it.
“It was such an amazing feeling to be able to help others. Sharing my experiences with the young people was hard, but I soon realised what a huge effect it had on them. It was important for them to see that no matter what stage in life you are in, you can still go through hard times. I wanted them to know that people still cared, and that there are people out there that can help.
Looking back now I realise how low in confidence I was. I had lost a sense of purpose in my life which had been missing for a long time. Seeing the difference that the programme has on the young people is an inspiration, they change so much in just a few weeks and that is really special to be a part of.
I gained so much from the experience that I am doing another placement as an Assistant Team Leader, this time for the full three months. I also have a place on the Team Leaders course. I now know that this is definitely the career path for me.
After such a long time, I finally feel like I am getting my life back on track.”
The successful partnership has been up and running since September 2010. Help for Heroes has committed £1,032,846 to enable wounded, injured and sick tri-Service personnel and Veterans to participate in fully funded and bespoke secondments with The Prince’s Trust Team programme.
If you feel you could benefit from working with Help for Heroes and The Prince’s Trust, email Philippa Clare on firstname.lastname@example.org