A former Navy officer flew his plane into a hillside as he struggled to cope with the trauma of war - now his Norfolk family is raising funds to help others like him
PUBLISHED: 09:55 30 May 2014 | UPDATED: 10:06 30 May 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
Falklands veteran Andrew Stillwell-Cox killed himself as he battled to beat the trauma of war after stepping into “civvy street.”
Combat Stress factfile
The charity marked its 95th anniversary this month.
It was founded after the First World War, in 1919, to help UK Veterans with psychological injuries rebuild their lives.
Men and women leave the armed services suffering from mental ill-health - ranging from depression and anxiety to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The charity has a caseload of over 5,400 Veterans, including 662 who have served in Afghanistan.
It spends nearly £14 million a year on delivering a range of specialist treatment and welfare support.
Anyone - serving personnel, veterans, and their families - needing help should contact the free 24-hour helpline 0800 138 1619.
Now his Norfolk family is holding fund-raising events to support the veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress.
His mum and dad are staging a coffee morning today and his sister is running a marathon at the weekend motivated by his memory - and the wish to help other veterans and their families through tough times.
Mr Stillwell-Cox was 55 when he flew a light aircraft into the Sheep Rock hillside beauty spot in Cornwall in 2007.
Five years earlier he left the Royal Navy after a career which saw him begin as a 15-year-old HMS Ganges trainee and rise through the ranks to become lieutenant commander who was second in command of the Culdrose helicopter base in Cornwall.
During service in the Falklands war he was a petty officer on the destroyer HMS Glamorgan when it was hit by an Argentine Exocet missile in June 1982.
His father Tony Stillwell-Cox from Scottow, said: “He was part of a damage control party. His buddy standing next to him was blown to smithereens. Then he kicked something which he thought was a football, and it was a chap’s head.”
Fourteen crew died in the attack on the penultimate day of the conflict - but the incident also hit survivors such as Andrew.
“He was very disturbed when he came home on leave - not his normal easy-going self. But he went back and battled on, with the Service holding him together,” he added.
But when Andrew went into civilian life, as a coach company training officer, the trauma “got the better of him.”
He killed himself not long after visiting his parents for their diamond wedding anniversary, when there was no sign of his intentions.
Ever since, the family has been helping Combat Stress. Mum Margaret is baking cakes for a coffee morning at St Edward’s church at Badersfield - the former RAF Coltishall - from 10.30am today.
Andrew’s sister Andi Osborn, 60, a nurse from West Beckham, has vowed to run four marathons for the cause. She is tackling her third this weekend, in Kent.
To support the family’s effort visit the coffee morning, or mail donations to Combat Stress, care of Tony Stillwell-Cox, Brooklands, The Fairstead, Scottow, NR10 5AQ.