The Woodland Warrior Programme

"Local woodland becomes a lifeline for Armed Forces veterans"

As someone who has grown up with a father and uncles in the armed forces, I have seen first hand how difficult the transition from the military to the 'civvie street' is. Due to this I have a lot of interest in charities like the British Legion and Help for Heroes. I have now seen an article detailing a scheme held in a private woodland south of Bristol.

The owners of this woodland are former Royal Marine Commando Nick Goldsmith and his wife Louise. They are founders of the Woodland Warrior Programme, which aims to help veterans ‘recuperate, recalibrate and re-engage with civilian life’.

A full article on the programme can be found on the Chew Valley Gazette website.

This is a really interesting article and it opens your eyes to the struggles of not only ex-serving armed forces personnel but also their partners. To borrow a quote from this article, "In 2016 it was revealed that mental health issues among UK Armed Forces had risen 78 per cent in eight years. Neurotic disorders were found to be the most prevalent in serving personnel, but the effects of soldiering did not cease when they hung up their uniforms. According to figures released by SSAFA last year, 34 per cent of veterans report feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts, with one in four having suicidal ideation." I find these statistics very troubling, and it indicates how important further support is to assist with ex-serviceman and their families.

Nick and Louise have done a sterling job and since obtaining funding, have been able to develop and advertise the programme far afield, even appearing on a peak time TV show. They have also developed a number of other services in the woodlands, which include bush-craft classes, educational workshops, a kindergarten and toddler groups and a holiday workshop. For adults they also do team building and corporate days, stag, hens and celebrations.

Not only have they developed a really worthy service but they have excellent care facilities and a setting that really assists with the improvement of people's well-being.

To find out more, take a look at the Hidden Valley Bushcraft website.

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