Andy served both in the ranks and as an officer from 1976 to 1996 in the Royal Marines. He passed out of training as the top recruit (King’s Badgeman, 98 Troop) and as the best Young Officer (Royal Marines Sword of Honour Young Officer Batch May 80) and was awarded a General Officer Commanding’s Commendation for his field work in Northern Ireland (40 Commando Royal Marines).
At the height of the ground fighting in the 1982 Falklands islands conflict, he was a rifle troop commander in charge of 32 men, and was tasked with operating independently from his unit, 45 Commando Royal Marines, in no man’s land. During this phase, whilst conducting a fighting patrol to destroy some of the enemy’s fire support systems, he ambushed what he thought was an enemy force killing four men. It transpired that it was a friendly patrol from his own unit.
This single event, coupled with five tours in Northern Ireland, changed his perception of himself and gradually life in general, and was the beginning of a long slide towards ultimate despair, and eventually contemplation of suicide. From 1982 until 1996 he managed to continue functioning in various command capacities within the Royal Marines, but at the same time was aware of a growing split between the rational external face and the lurking internal horror that was slowly engulfing his entire persona.
Eventually his marriage collapsed and the loss of his family, two daughters, and all possessions, triggered off the reactions that are now known to be classical symptoms of PTSD. In 1989 the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was unknown to Andy and by 1996 he finally accepted that he had to leave the Corps and country he loved in order to deal with this overwhelming problem. He bought an old classic yacht and with his new wife, Cheralie, sailed off into the North Atlantic to re-discover himself.
In the late summer of 1997 they discovered the beautiful sub-tropical Balearic island of Formentera and dropped anchor. It was here that Andy began the process of self-healing.
On the 6th of September 2012, by invitation of the Commanding Officer, who was an old friend, Andy gave a two hour presentation to 45 Commando Royal Marines on his war and its effects. Not only did he manage this with no emotional fall-out, but that night he found himself listening to a number of serving officers who wanted to talk about their experiences and resultant emotional problems. Andy realised that this was the end of his 30-year battle with PTSD; and the beginning of a new career in mentoring those who are suffering today. Thus The Mountain Way was born.
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