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Hugh joined the army straight out of school and served in the Royal Engineers for 12 years. During deployments to Northern Ireland and Bosnia he worked on high risk bomb disposal teams locating Improvised Explosive Devices and suffers from PTSD as a result of his service. He also sustained a spinal injury which makes physical labour difficult and painful. Hugh was discharged from the Army in 1997 and retrained for a civilian career. However, he lost his job in 2004 as a result of numerous hospital appointments and unpredictable behaviour attributed to his PTSD. Living in constant pain, scared, depressed and virtually housebound, Hugh felt lost and didn’t know where to turn.
Then, in January of 2012, Hugh was contacted by the charity Dare to Live which uses horses to facilitate what Hugh describes as the ‘rebooting of his brain/body systems’ allowing him to process traumas and finally come to terms with his experiences and injuries. Recognising abilities in Hugh that he himself didn’t see, Dare to Live offered Hugh the challenge of learning more about Horse Whispering and Natural Horsemanship and asked him to consider filling the position of the Operations Manager for the Dare to Live program.
Walking With The Wounded's First Steps programme funded his retraining as a Facilitator of Equine Assisted Learning - a programme which is completed over three years to degree level.
Hugh commented: “I’d never been near a horse in my life and I had certainly never contemplated anything like asking for financial help before but I’m glad Walking With The Wounded were there to help. I start my new job in March 2014 and this is all down to the horses at Dare to Live and the help from The Poppy Factory and Walking with the Wounded.”