Inspirational Soham soldier attends ceremony to celebrate one thousand wounded, injured and sick veterans back in work

PUBLISHED: 09:19 13 September 2018

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall  hosts a reception in her home at Clarence House for the Poppy Factory supporters, volunteers, veterans and staff.
 Photo: Ian Jones

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall hosts a reception in her home at Clarence House for the Poppy Factory supporters, volunteers, veterans and staff. Photo: Ian Jones

Ian Jones

A former soldier from Soham was invited to a special ceremony at Clarence House hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in support of a charity initiative which has seen one thousand veterans get back into work.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall  hosts a reception in her home at Clarence House for the Poppy Factory supporters, volunteers, veterans and staff.
 Photo: Ian JonesHRH The Duchess of Cornwall hosts a reception in her home at Clarence House for the Poppy Factory supporters, volunteers, veterans and staff. Photo: Ian Jones

The power of the public has helped The Poppy Factory, the UK’s leading employability charity for ex-service men and women with physical and mental health challenges, reach its target in getting those back into work.

The milestone was reached following a summer campaign by the charity urging people to write or post a good luck message for a veteran on their first day in their new job.

Former soldier Wayne Harrod, from Soham, was among invited to a special reception in celebration of the one thousand wounded, injured and sick veterans who have been supported by the charity’s Getting You Back to Work programme since 2010.

Wayne, whose left leg was amputated below the knee after he was injured in training, gave a speech about how The Poppy Factory helped him find a new vocation as a gardener for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at Cambridge City Cemetery.

Wayne, whose left leg was amputated below the knee after he was injured in training, gave a speech about how The Poppy Factory helped him find a new vocation as a gardener. Photo: Alex Griffiths.Wayne, whose left leg was amputated below the knee after he was injured in training, gave a speech about how The Poppy Factory helped him find a new vocation as a gardener. Photo: Alex Griffiths.

He said: “I left the services after 24 years and went into Civilian Street thinking all was good. After the resettlement I thought getting a full time job would be easy. I was wrong. After 200 CVs sent out and many job applications with no reply, I was sinking fast.

“When I contacted The Poppy Factory I was listened to and given a consultant, who helped with my CV and had a different outlook on what I was worth and what I could give to a future employer.

“I have now been employed as a full-time gardener for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for six years. It has made family life a lot more financially secure, and with that the stress has gone and I’ve taken on different adventures.”

The Poppy Factory estimates there are at least 20,000 wounded, injured or sick veterans of working age in the UK who are struggling to get back into work after leaving the Armed Forces.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall  hosts a reception in her home at Clarence House for the Poppy Factory supporters, volunteers, veterans and staff.
 Photo: Ian JonesHRH The Duchess of Cornwall hosts a reception in her home at Clarence House for the Poppy Factory supporters, volunteers, veterans and staff. Photo: Ian Jones

Now the charity hopes to reach more wounded, injured and sick veterans around the UK.

Members of the public have shown their support by including the phrase #1000messages in social media posts and written messages since Armed Forces Week in June

The Poppy Factory’s Chief Executive Deirdre Mills said: “We cannot thank the public enough for their support in getting behind our wounded, injured and sick veterans. We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude and we are so proud that everyone came together to help.

“Our focus is on helping each veteran harness their own unique skills and abilities and by so doing move into long term meaningful employment. This means so much and will have a great impact upon their lives.”

Ex-Forces men and women who have been supported by The Poppy Factory were invited to a special reception hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House on September 5.

Veterans who would like to find out more about The Poppy Factory’s Getting You Back to Work programme can visit www.poppyfactory.org, email gybtw@poppyfactory.org or call 020 8939 1837.

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