Nigel Berry joined the Coldstream Guards at the age of 18 and loved the work, guarding HM The Queen, trooping the colour and travelling around the world on training exercises.
In Iraq, he was severely injured by a roadside bomb, thrown off his motorbike whilst en route to deliver a message to the front line. His injuries resulted in nine months hospitalisation in Iraq and England.
Post traumatic stress disorder kicked in later, starting with depression and insomnia. His paranoia became unmanageable, he drank heavily, got into fights and ended up in prison. His marriage broke down and he ended up homeless.
Fortunately for Nigel, he discovered the charity, Combat Stress, who found him accommodation and, with the help of the other ex-Servicemen, he stopped drinking, started exercising and gradually built up his confidence.
I still have flash-backs and suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Despite all that I’m back in work and I’m proud of myself.
The Poppy Factory found Nigel a job at Rok, which has since been taken over by Mansell Construction Services. ‘The first year being sponsored has helped me to find my feet,’ said Nigel. ‘I now work full time. I’m the first on site and the last one out. My army training definitely helped me to pull myself out of depression and now in my work it helps me lead a team of labourers.
‘Without the opportunity The Poppy Factory gave me, I would still be drinking and I’d be on the streets or in jail. Now I’ve got my own home, I’m able to look after my children and I know that no matter what happens, I can call The Poppy Factory if I need help. They’ll always be behind me.’