Innes Aucott served with the Staffordshire Regiment (now part of the Mercian Regiment) between 1994 and 1998. Following a series of mental health breakdowns and suicide attempts, he underwent a course with Future for Heroes and began to rebuild his life.
Innes has now completed his HGV training with funding from The Soldiers’ Charity and the Mercian Regiment and has a new job with a haulage firm.
“My story may be a different to a lot of others,’ Innes reflects. ‘My issues were not caused by the Army but my earlier home life. In fact, my time with 1 Staffords was probably the most stable of my life.”
Innes Aucott joined the Army on 4th January 1994. Having attempted suicide several times in his youth, he found security and a sense of purpose in the Army. After training, he joined the 1st Battalion – 1 Staffords – in Newry for several years, followed by a posting to Market Drayton and a five-month tour of Hong Kong.
Then, in 1998, a failed relationship and fears about a return to civilian life drove Innes to make two fresh attempts on his life. He was admitted to Catterick psychiatric ward and then to Shrewsbury Psychiatric Hospital, only to be discharged after attacking another patient. “After that, the Army decided I would be better served staying at home until my final few months of service were over.”
Fast forward 20 years and Innes experienced a second breakdown whilst working for the NHS. The following 18 months left him isolated and desperate. “I could only leave the house to take the lad to school before anxiety overwhelmed me. I would even get severe anxiety when my son, then aged 7, and my wife were in the house.” Innes approached various mental health services, but without success.
At that point, his best friend suggested Future For Heroes, a charity which helps service leavers struggling to adapt to civilian life. With a great deal of encouragement, Innes committed to their four-day residential course. “I think the thing that turned my life around was the course. Everyone was ex-forces so there was already a bond there, and it made breaking down the walls so much easier.” From the first day, Innes felt comfortable enough to reveal things about himself that he never had before – even to his wife or mother. He believes the setting and staff, coupled with the fact that the delegates were ex-services, set the course apart.
“The challenges push you but the support you receive is amazing. I honestly believe that without that four-day course I would have either continued my decline, made another attempt on my life or be living solo in an institution or on the streets.”
From the course, Innes was referred for hypnotherapy treatment which helped immensely. He also had access to The Poppy Factory, which provided access to a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driving course. At this point, the Mercian Regiment and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity stepped in to provide funding. The Soldiers’ Charity is the national charity of the British Army, which provides a lifetime of support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families in times of need. They provide assistance to individuals through their Regiments and Corps, and by providing grants to specialist charities like Future for Heroes and The Poppy Factory.
With their help, Innes passed his HGV Class 2 course. Now four months into his new role with a local haulage firm, he is feeling optimistic about the future: “I am loving the no-pressure job. I haven’t suffered a serious anxiety attack in months, I no longer require medication and am almost back to being a good father and husband.”
He still has bad days, but not to the extent he used to. “If I start to struggle I tend to visit Brathay and sit by the lake which recharges me and reminds me of the way forward.”
Innes has manned water stations at the last two Brathay Marathons. His next goal is to attempt the marathon himself next year with the tabbing group.
Twitter @Soldierscharity https://twitter.com/
Facebook @soldierscharity https://www.facebook.com/
Find out more here: https://soldierscharity.org/