I spent 24 years in the Army, travelling around the world with my family and on various tours of active duty. I went to Bosnia, Croatia, Northern Ireland and Iraq as part of Desert Storm. The changing scenery suited me and I enjoyed the hard work and dedication of my fellow infantrymen.
When I came out I got a job in a hotel, and I went at it with the same vigour that I had applied to being a soldier. I was the duty manager, and in order for the business to do well, I felt that I needed to be there.
I worked from six in the morning until the small hours of the night. It was a Catch 22, I was working hard to make money for my family, but I was never there to enjoy the time with them. My wife was disappointed that she still wasn’t seeing me, after all the years I’d been away in other countries. She found someone else, and I decided I had to leave.
I went to Cyprus for a couple of weeks to visit old friends, and then I just travelled the UK looking for work. My Army mentality told me just to knuckle down and get on with it, I knew how to look after myself, I didn’t need anything more than a bivvy bag to sleep in. I didn’t want my problems to become my children’s problems, I felt they were better off without me.
It was purely by chance that I found my way to Emmaus. It sounds like the punch-line to a joke when I say I met a monk at a bus-stop, but I did, and he became one of my closest friends. On his recommendation I went to Emmaus Village Carlton and ended up staying for eight years. Then in December 2012, I went to Leicestershire & Rutland, and recently I came to Hastings. I’ve worked on the vans, in the shop, in the house, and I think it’s great.
My children are grown up now, and all three of them have followed my footsteps into the Forces. I feel glad that they are all happy and grounded people, and now I have also found somewhere to settle. I enjoy the feeling of teamwork at Emmaus, it’s like being back in the Forces, and what we do here has given me a real feeling of pride and self-respect. I feel like a better person all round.