In 2012, a roadside bomb hurled Stewart’s vehicle into a ditch, leaving him with brain damage and PTSD. Inspired by other injured veterans, he has fought to overcome his injuries and become a tireless ambassador for our charity.
Former infantryman Stewart Harris served with 1st Battalion The Welsh Guards. While on tour in Afghanistan in 2012, a roadside bomb hurled Stewart’s vehicle into a ditch leaving him with brain damage; the impact of which has left him partially sighted and partially deaf. The same year he also witnessed three of his comrades shot dead by an Afghan policeman. Stewart was later diagnosed with PTSD before leaving the Army after 13 years service, aged 30.
During his transition from Army to civilian life, while struggling to come to terms with his diagnosis, Stewart would experience further upset. In 2014 a burglary took place at Stewart’s home in Rhyl, North Wales. The thieves took off with the family’s car, household items, as well as Stewart’s glasses, which he relied on heavily since sustaining his injuries on tour.
The impact of the burglary meant Stewart was too afraid to leave his house. His sleeping was affected and he became too afraid to take his prescribed medications for fear they would affect his alertness. Slowly he began to return to the dark, early days of his diagnosis.
He says of the experience: “Aside from being burgled which is a horrible feeling when someone enters your house without you even knowing, where your children sleep. […] It haunted me for a long time. I took a massive step back [in my recovery].”
Our charity stepped in to help Stewart and his family during this upsetting time. The family were reliant upon the fixed income from Stewart’s Army pension, and the costs quoted by various security companies were simply beyond what the family could afford. Our charity provided a grant towards the purchase and installation of CCTV cameras at the family home; assistance that was granted rapidly and without fuss: “To ask for help and then to be told ‘yes that’s going to be fine’ is absolutely amazing. The weight of the world was taken off my shoulders.”
Once these security measures were in place, Stewart was granted the peace of mind to relax and get back into a routine. He was able to continue activities such as golf, a sport he particularly enjoys, and turn his hand to fundraising for various service charities. It was a world away from being scared to leave his home.
“To ask for help and then to be told ‘yes that’s going to be fine’ is absolutely amazing…The weight of the world was taken off my shoulders”.
Since leaving the Army, Stewart has applied his love of a challenge and being part of a team. Testament to his commitment to being a role model, Stewart has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and The Three Peaks and has been instrumental in introducing a new scheme within his local community: bringing in free swimming sessions for veterans at five council-owned pools in Denbighshire.
Reflecting on the help our charity has provided for both him and his comrades, Stewart has been inspired to follow the path of his fellow injured veterans, Micky Yule and Andy Reid, and become a proud Ambassador for The Soldiers’ Charity, saying: “Since being an ambassador for The Soldiers’ Charity, I have got so much drive and focus.”