Important lifeline to mark fourth birthday by expanding services

Unveiling of the Veterans' Response Partnership car. Right, director of the Walnut Tree Project Luke

Unveiling of the Veterans' Response Partnership car. Right, director of the Walnut Tree Project Luke Woodley with clinical psycologist Dr Roger Kingerlee. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A charity offering specialist support for Armed Forces veterans is to celebrate its fourth birthday by expanding its services.

Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing was set up in 2014 by veteran Luke Woodley, from Costessey, after he developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Having served as a member of the Coldstream Guards in Bosnia with the UN in 1993, Mr Woodley's mental health deteriorated after leaving the forces.

He suffered flashbacks, panic attacks, insomnia, anger issues, heavy alcohol abuse, hyper vigilance and disassociation.

Episodes would be triggered by things such as diesel fumes, crowded public places and the sound of fireworks.

He found himself in the care of a specialist called Dr Roger Kingsley, who he would eventually team up with in 2014 to launch the project, which has recently moved to a new base at Ketteringham Hall, near Wymondham.

The pair were interested in the issues faced by military personnel, especially when it came to men and mental health services.

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Now, to celebrate the organisation's fourth birthday, it has expanded its services to support more people.

They will include trauma reenactment therapy and improved family support training.

Mr Woodley said: 'When we first started we could only find three veterans but now we have a waiting list until next year.

'It's just grown – it started as a small Facebook page, then became an office in my garage and now we are in Ketteringham Hall with around 30 volunteers.

'When I started I sold my 4x4 and fishing equipment and used my pension – now it's started to become self-sufficient.'

He said on the day of their fourth birthday they 'got [their] heads down and helped more vulnerable people', but had a celebration on July 28 with a charity game at Crusaders Rugby Club.

The centre has also introduced mental health response cars, which Mr Woodley said he was particularly proud of.

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