Fresh out of school in 1975, Andy signed up to the Royal Navy, with ambitions of joining the seamen’s side. Unfortunately, he didn’t pass the high standards required in the sight test, and so instead, sought out an engineering role as an Officer in Training.
During his time serving, Andy said that “one of the things that came home to me very quickly and urgently is that the Royal Navy is always there, helping people along, not just in conflict, but also to help people survive major disasters”. Andy went on to participate in disaster relief exercises and was stationed at one point near Granada, to support civilians who were undergoing a time of political turmoil.
On board HMS Fearless and HMS Penelope, Andy undertook roles such as Officer of the Day, ensuring that “the Ship was managing quickly, that everything that had to be checked, was checked thoroughly each day, and to make sure that all equipment was ready to be used”. His position meant that no matter what the crew might be asked to do, they could do so efficiently and effectively. He was also privy to defence council instructions, which involved receiving the latest orders on what to do in certain situations and protecting this sensitive information.
Navy life had a lasting impact on Andy’s subsequent career and pastimes. His experience in engineering led him to become Head of Faculty in various design and technology colleges, and what he learnt about teamwork shaped how he managed his team. Andy shared that “Starting my career with the Royal Navy inspired confidence in my own ability to do things. Before that, I might not have pushed myself, like when I went on to become a mountain leader”. Andy added proudly that guiding groups of young people up and down mountainsides and on night navigations inspired one youth to take on Everest.
In September 2019, Andy’s life was turned upside down when he suffered from a stroke while on a dog walk. In hospital, it was established that whilst Andy’s condition was not critical, he had lost the ability to walk, move his left arm and use some of his eyesight. With limited physiotherapy help available from the NHS, Andy was relieved when he began to receive support from military charity ssafa who, as well as providing adjustments in his home such as ramps, recommended Care for Veterans as an option.
Initially, Andy considered Care for Veterans on a respite basis but is now one of our long-term rehabilitation residents. Andy has found that there are many aspects of life at Care for Veterans which suit him well, one of which is living with other veterans. Andy said, “I enjoy their company because we speak a similar language. It’s so easy to talk to each other. I think there is a mutual affinity. You do end up chatting about where you have been, and what you have done”.
Since his arrival, Andy has come to enjoy using the facilities and therapies available to him. On visiting the Wellbeing Hub, Andy admitted, “I had to be persuaded to go at first. I Didn’t think I would go and enjoy it, but I had a brilliant time. There are simple quizzes and competitions, I quite like the quizzes, I must admit. I liked the valentines party yesterday too”. On Tuesday 14th February, close to 40 residents attended the Valentines Glitterball held by the therapies team. The Wellbeing Hub was decorated with hanging hearts, with a red theme throughout and a cupid photo booth.
Andy stated that “one of the best things about it [the valentines ball] was this good feeling. It was a very uplifting moment. I said to [Physiotherapist] Sarah, “I want to stand up”. With their help, I stood up and had a little dance – or a jiggle more than a dance. A year or two ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that, so that was a big plus”.
“The end game for me is to walk again, so I can take the dog out for a walk again or help other people get strong enough to perhaps even take people walking in the hills camping again” – Andy
To achieve this goal, Andy has been going to physiotherapy at every opportunity, which is most days. Andy added that “the physiotherapy provision here is far better than anything I have experienced anywhere else, it’s superb”. With help from our expert team, Andy said, “I can move myself so much better now. I’m not able to walk, but I’m not far off. I still can’t move my left arm properly, but I’ve got much more feeling in my left hand than I had before”.
When asked how his experience of Care for Veterans has been so far, Andy said, “the carers are excellent. I think [Care for Veterans] helps you look forward to the future. It gives you promise for the future, and I didn’t have that promise in certain stages before.”
We are honoured to have Andy live with us here at Care for Veterans, and we wish him all the best in achieving his goals for the future.
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