Leon joined the Army at the age of 16 and spent nearly 10 years in the Welsh Guards. He was deployed to Iraq (2005), Bosnia (2007) and Afghanistan (2009). On return from operational duty in Afghanistan Leon was diagnosed with PTSD and as a result was medically discharged in April 2013.
Since leaving the Army Leon was in various jobs but found it difficult to settle into a job he enjoyed. Before joining the Army, Leon helped his uncle with basic bricklaying and he decided it would be a good career choice for him after leaving.
In 2014 Leon contacted Walking With The Wounded and secured funding via the First Steps programme for his City & Guilds Level II Diploma in Bricklaying. Due to his previous experience Leon was able to start an intensive bricklaying course in October 2014, which he passed with distinction.
Persimmon Homes were able to offer Leon a Bricklaying Apprenticeship which he started in January 2015. Leon realised that the apprenticeship would be worthwhile investment to enable him to become a fully qualified bricklayer.
Leon says it was a ‘hard slog’ at the beginning and a little like being in the Army and starting at the bottom again, but he has really enjoyed the apprenticeship and is looking forward to being a fully qualified tradesman.
Leon received his ‘Blue Card’ and became qualified in February this year (2016) and achieved his goal of becoming self-employed. Leon continued to work with Persimmon Homes as a self-employed contractor, until he secured work with a Construction firm in Cardiff who specialise in the design and construction of buildings both nationally and internationally.
Being an apprentice has helped Leon come ‘out of his shell’ more as he used to keep himself to himself but he is now integrating back into civilian life. It has been a big adjustment but the course and his apprenticeship gave Leon his confidence back.
Leon also took part in the DIY SOS Veterans Big Build in 2015. Persimmon Homes allowed him to spend a week on site assisting with the build.
Leon admits that he has had a few ‘wobbles’ since leaving the Army and his PTSD does cause some problems at times but his coping strategies help him.
Leon was recently awarded the 2016 Nationwide Resettlement Award for “Overcoming Adversity During Resettlement”.
Leon said: “My biggest achievements have been my two children, passing my City & Guilds Level II Diploma and completing the apprenticeship with Persimmon Homes. I have learned a lot from the apprenticeship and can’t thank WWTW enough for their support in helping.”