Restoration & Recuperation

PUBLISHED: 11:17 23 September 2011 | UPDATED: 21:37 20 February 2013

Lt Col Simon Hammond

Lt Col Simon Hammond

Tedworth House has had a major makeover, and Phase One of the transformation is now the cornerstone of the Army Recovery Capability, as Jess Bate explains

Tedworth House has had a major makeover, and Phase One of the transformation is now the cornerstone of the Army Recovery Capability, as Jess Bate explains


Witnessing so many seriously wounded soldiers in Selly Oak Hospital in 2007, Bryn and Emma Parry felt compelled to raise money to help our injured troops. Their initial charity bike ride project grew beyond belief and has become the phenomenon that is Help for Heroes (H4H). Now, having raised over 100m, the charity has, in partnership with the MOD, started to establish a number of military recovery centres across the UK. Tedworth House, in Tidworth, is the centrepiece of the new system the Army has to care for its injured and sick.

Treatment


Once medical problems are largely resolved for injured soldiers, at both Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, Surrey, it is time to look to the future at the Personnel Recovery & Assessment Centre (PRAC) in Tedworth House. Six military staff run the PRAC, and ideally a long-term injured soldier has recovered within one to four months. This period includes time spent physically and mentally rehabilitating as well as re-training and job searching, if work within a military capacity is no longer possible.

Commanding Officer of the PRAC, Lt Col Simon Hammond, manages 26 residents initially, in purpose-built, but temporary adaptive accommodation. He says: Planning permission permitting, by spring 2012, Phase Two of the plan will be complete. We hope to have the capacity for 50 residents in total, in permanent accommodation, which will include rooms and flats for visiting family.

We will be running three key work streams that will see WIS soldiers completing short-term residential courses, a long-term residential capability for soldiers requiring a sick at home address, and a recovery support programme that will compliment the core programmes. The foundation for a soldiers recovery planning is a two-week assessment course, which will provide a detailed profile of the soldier allowing the development of a personal recovery plan.

The PRAC will also offer other serving soldiers an opportunity to visit on a daily basis to take advantage of the facilities. Lt Colonel Hammond, who has served in the Army for 33 years, is excited about the opportunity Tedworth House represents: We will provide serving wounded, injured and sick soldiers with an accelerated recovery experience, which will be a real enhancement to the current evolving capability.

Support

But Tedworth House will also provide a support hub for serving wounded, injured, sick soldiers who may need support when transitioning out of the service. If returning to the Army is no longer a reality, then he or she will have access to experts in welfare, social services, housing, service charities and other important agencies, all under the one roof. This multi-disciplinary approach to a soldiers transition is an important element of the capability. Wiltshire Council is also closely involved and engaged in the project, developing innovative inter-county protocols to support transitioning soldiers as well. On leaving the Army, they can return to the PRAC at any time, having become part of the Band of Brothers, and can use the gym, visit for social events or simply to talk to someone and get a problem sorted out.


It is hugely rewarding to see a soldier, so angry about the card life
has dealt him, transform into a well-balanced, re-educated and up-skilled person

As a Personnel Recovery Officer, Captain Alli Stocker (left) says her toughest challenge is managing the soldiers expectations: The Army is no longer a job for life. When a soldier is injured in an explosion, an RTA or is long-term sick, they cannot be retained due to their physical downgrading. They need to be re-trained and returned to civilian life, equipped with all the appropriate skills they need. Alli continues: It is hugely rewarding to see a soldier, so angry about the card life has dealt him, transform into a well-balanced, re-educated and up-skilled person. When that happens, I know I am doing my job well.

Restoration

H4H has spent 20m on the refurbishment of Tedworth House. The detail of the fabric of the building has been restored to its former glory, while allowing modern life to exist within its walls. Over 140 sash windows have been restored or replaced, and there are approximately 200 workmen on site at any one time.

But H4H has achieved its 16-week build target and, with the help of lots of Wiltshire-based firms and employees, the charity has transformed a redundant, deteriorating millstone into a gloriously positive focal point for our sick, wounded and recovering soldiers.

The grand opening

Attending the opening of Phase One of Tedworth House at the end of June, was local soldier Private Josh Campbell, 21, from 23 Pioneer Regiment Royal Logistic Corps. He was injured in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was travelling in struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Currently being rehabilitated in a similar centre, he said: Its been really tough since I was injured in 2009, but the treatment I received at Selly Oak and Headley Court has been brilliant, and the support I get from the Personnel Recovery Unit has been fantastic. I am also grateful for the assistance Ive received from Help for Heroes, and Im really looking forward to taking advantage of all the great support facilities Tedworth House can offer.

Bryn Parry, seeing his charity realise this incredible facility said: When I think back to October 2007 when we first started in the Tidworth Tin Hut, the thing I always remember is driving past Tedworth House on the way to work and thinking, wouldnt it be great if that could be a recovery centre for the guys and girls. Its been an incredible effort on all fronts to get it ready in such a short space of time. Its a truly awesome moment for myself and Emma, and everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible.

Hopefully by September 2012, Phase Three of the transformation will see art, hobbies and occupational therapy centres, social enterprise units and links to local businesses and schools being created, to really embed Tedworth House and its users into the fabric of our community.

Jess Bate was a British Army officer for seven years before settling in"Wiltshire.


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