Just how do you put your life back together when, as a super-fit, healthy and highly trained solider you wake up from a coma to find you’ve lost your legs, your genitals and the surgeons are contemplating removing your badly mangled arm.
This was Rick Clement’s toughest ever challenge after finding himself on the brink of death having stepped on an IED whilst on patrol in Afghanistan last year.
For most of us, it’s a question that we (thankfully) never have to contemplate. It is a question that Rick has faced with the help of his beautiful wife Leanne, (whom he married last month) and friends as he has fought his way back to health and proudly joined a new charity, Sanctuary for Veterans, at their first ever fundraising ball this week.
The charity will be launching a new Holiday and Holistic Care Centre for wounded veterans in the heart of the Cheshire countryside within the next year and aims to give people like Rick the chance to take a holiday, access counselling, holistic therapies, career coaching and vocational skills training to get their lives back on track and overcome their injuries or trauma.
The brave soldier (a member of the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster Regiment) joined hundreds of supporters and other ex-servicemen to party into the small hours in support of the fledgling charity at Portal Golf Club last Saturday night. Whilst the food, the fun, the auction and the aptly named band, “Fifty Fingers” (there were five of them - I wonder what they call themselves if their base player ever has a night off?) were fantastic, meeting Rick and Leanne was definitely the highlight of the night for me. His positive attitude and focus on what he can do, rather than what he can’t, his hope for the future and his joy at marrying Leanne, whom he met on the internet in 2008 were all too evident.
Joe O’Connor, Sanctuary for Veterans founder, who was himself blown 400 feet off a mountain, culminating in a broken neck and years of rehabilitation, is keen to make sure that the Sanctuary provides employment opportunities for ex-soldiers like Rick. He shared his vision for a vibrant centre where guys who have been through similar experiences support each other on the long road to recovery,
“The guys and girls who come to the centre will pass a sign that says, ’leave your kitbag, your cants, shants and won’ts here’ and on the way out there will be another sign that says, ‘you’ve nothing to collect, but remember to keep your cans’, shalls and wills with you.”
“We are so proud of our servicemen and women. Some of them give their lives for us and for every man or woman killed, there are dozens like Rick who come back maimed and injured. Sanctuary for Veterans will recognize the exceptional service that they have given us and will work hard to repay at least part of the debt, helping them to see the potential that they still have and giving them the support that they need to realize it.”
As a daughter and daughter-in-law of ex-servicemen, the wife of an ex-Royal Engineer and an ex-BUOTC member myself, I am keen to see Joe’s dream become a reality. It is not right that significant numbers of war veterans end up homeless, suffering from addictions and psychological disorders as a result of their experiences of war. We have lost more Falkland War veterans to suicide than we did during the conflict. I hope you will join me in applauding their efforts to do something daring and different – building this new, stunning charity from scratch.
If you want to become part of the S4V family, please call Joe on 07956 204588 or check out www.sanctuaryforveterans.co.uk and give what you can. Whatever you give, it will never be more than the thousands of servicemen and women, like Rick, have given to us.
By Lily Newman © www.lilynewman.co.uk
Member since: 10th July 2012
Chester word of mouth specialist, promotes and markets the best businesses in Chester. Passionately supporting local businesses, organisations and events.