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A Salute to Our Forgotten Heroes

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 10th November 2015

You may or may not be aware but as a company Trade Skills 4U offers a bursary scheme for those who have fought for our country and then fallen upon hard times. The bursary scheme was launched back in 2011 with the aim of offering free and discounted training to ex-military candidates who were injured in service, suffering from conditions such as PTSD or simply fallen upon hard times. So far we have had numerous candidates come through the scheme, most of which have been awarded a full Bronze course to help them on their way to a new life and a new career.

However in running this scheme we as a company have learnt a lot about why our heroes struggle with returning to every day life. When we first launched the scheme the very first person we offered it to didn’t turn up for their first day of training. We contacted them and discovered that they simply didn’t have the means to travel to us to receive the training. Whilst we are able to provide free and discounted training we can’t stretch to funding accommodation and travel. However luckily there are a number of organisation who can assist. Since running the scheme we have worked in conjunction with the Royal British Legion, Civvy Street and SSAFA in order to ensure our Forgotten Heroes can make it to our centre and start changing their lives.

Since launching the scheme we have met some amazing people who have worked their socks of through adversity and pain to pass their courses. What we have learnt is that in the real world, for many of the bursary candidates, the training is just the first step on a long road to recovery and resettlement.

Two of our favourite candidates were kind enough to give us video reviews. You can view them below:

Richard Thompson

Richard Spent 25 years in the royal Navy, initially as a marine engineer, and then as a military photographer. He left the military in 2003 and fell in and out of employment for many years. He applied for the bursary in October 2011 and was offered a Bronze Course. Richard was based in Portsmouth and SSAFA assisted with his travel costs to and from the centre. We knew Richard would excel at his Bronze course due to his engineering and DIY background.

Following his course Richard appeared in a channel 5 documentary called Construction Squad: Operation Homefront where he helped a team of ex-military personnel renovate a Solent rescue lifeboat service facility. Since he took part in the programme and training Richard has done a variety of jobs including some small jobs for friends and family, then a stint as maintainer and most recently he is working as a general hand at Babcock International. Recently Richard said: “The course was great not just in terms of what I learnt but in terms of building my confidence back up again and realising what I could achieve”. He is still working with the charity Combat Stress and hopes he can finally overcome some of his remaining issues from his time in the Navy.

Bobbie Molle

Bobbie Molle served for 5 years as a marine engineer. He was made P8 medically unfit for service due to developing a very rare form of cancer. Bobbie had undergone treatment for his condition which meant even whilst he was training with us he was still in a great deal of pain and struggling sometimes due to the large amount of medication he was still taking. Again we knew Bobbie would make a great candidate. He clearly was very driven, had the technical aptitude and had already planned how he was going to progress his career and set up his company “Blue Phase Electrical”.

Although currently his disease has spread to his shoulders and is still undergoing treatment he is adamant that he will find a path to get himself back into work by utilising, in his own words.

"The invaluable skills, knowledge and qualifications that Trade Skills 4U have generously supplied me with, tied in with the discipline, determination and technical background from my marine engineer naval military service"

Despite a myriad of complications Bobbie is now optimistic for his future as a civilian which he says is "all thanks to the friendly, caring and professional TradeSkills4U team and the associated charities who also assisted to make the course with us possible".

"Almost anything is possible for veterans like myself, so long as places like TradeSkills4U exist to help us".

Bobbie has said that he cannot thank those supporting him from Band of Brothers (a sub section of Help the Heroes) enough. He meets regularly with others like himself and the support they have given him has been fantastic.

What we have learned from working with our forgotten heroes is that they are truly motivated individuals. All have soldiered through our courses many dealing with some quite serious personal and physical issues. However none have ever complained, lost their cool or given up. This is a testament to their resolve and military background. However what is also clear is that the effects of serving in military can for many of our men and women have long lasting effects that can take their toll on their lives in so many ways.

This is why we run our forgotten heroes scheme and why we respect our military men and women so much.

If you know anyone who may be eligible please ask them to fill out an application here