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Woodland Warriors: Using nature to battle combat stress | UK News

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More than 70 former military and emergency service personnel suffering with post traumatic stress disorder will be offered a unique woodland course in 2020, to help improve their mental health.

The Woodland Warrior scheme in Somerset began in 2019 – set up for former Royal Marine commando Nick Goldsmith.

Nick was discharged following four tours of Afghanistan and was diagnosed with PTSD.

“I was at a point where I was completely mentally unstable,” he said.

“I could be fine one moment – and then the next, there’d be something on the news, the war or Afghanistan, and I was like boom – flash to bang.”

After purchasing woodland south of Bristol in 2012 – he realised the peace and tranquillity could also help others.

“Everyone’s hear for their own reasons – whether you’re a police officer, whether you’re a young infantryman who’s done your first gnarly tour and experienced some pretty high speed traumatic stuff or whether you’re an ambulance technician that’s 30 years on the buses and is just done turning up to horrendous things, anything from an old person falling over to a dead or dying child or an RTA on the road – that’s still trauma.”

Nick Goldsmith founded the woodland Warrior scheme after leaving the Marines
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Nick Goldsmith founded the woodland Warrior scheme after leaving the Marines

Those taking part spend the night in the woods – and learn skills such as foraging, wild cooking, tracking, archery and woodland management.

Helen Barnett was among the first to take part. A former firearms officer in the Metropolitan Police, Helen was discharged with PTSD after being shot at, stabbed and being nearly blown up by an IRA bomb.

She says the course has changed her life: “It just takes you away from the business of modern day life. The stresses that we all have don’t we.

“It just literally makes you stop, calms your mind, connects you to good people who are here, other people who can help you.

“It was just lovely setting up your camp bed – your bedroom for the night – and just sleeping really well. It was amazing just how peaceful it was.”

Helen Barnett left the Metropolitan Police after being diagnosed with PTSD
Image:
Helen Barnett left the Metropolitan Police after being diagnosed with PTSD

Woodland Warriors will receive funding in 2020 from the Endeavour Fund – which helps wounded, injured and sick service personnel and is supported by Prince Harry.

It will mean 72 former military and emergency service staff will be able to complete the course.

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