Thursday 27 July 2017

Prince Harry reminisces about 'dark sense of humour' in military

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge and Prince Harry seen leaving after a briefing to announce plans for Heads Together ahead of the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon at ICA on January 17, 2017 in London, England
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge and Prince Harry seen leaving after a briefing to announce plans for Heads Together ahead of the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon at ICA on January 17, 2017 in London, England
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Prince Harry has reminisced about the "dark sense of humour" of his military days during a chat with a group of former soldiers battling back to mental fitness.

Harry told the veterans, who have been building an Iron Age roundhouse as part of their recovery from conditions like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the frowned upon banter was vital to their psychological state.

The Prince was visiting Tedworth House, a Help for Heroes recovery centre in Hampshire, to learn more about Hidden Wounds - a programme designed to help with the mental wellbeing of veterans.

As he chatted in the shadow of the impressive Iron Age house - built from wooden posts, wattle and daub walls and a immaculately thatched roof - Harry said: "As you say, once you've served, there's that dark sense of humour.

"A lot of civilians don't get it and actually it can be frowned upon sometimes, but to individuals like you, and the rest of them, without it you can't function at all - it's got to be part of the recovery process.

Harry was speaking to Mike Day, 34 - known by the nickname Doris - a former sniper section commander with 4 Rifles who was left with PTSD after breaking his back and suffering shrapnel wounds to his head following a grenade attack in Afghanistan in 2009.

He was putting the finishing touches to a wolf carving decoration on an entrance post to the round house with Eddie Beddoes, 42, a serviceman who suffered multiple gunshot wounds during a deployment to Bosnia.

The men spoke candidly when questioned by Harry about how their psychological conditions had affected their relationships, but both spoke positively about meeting up with fellow veterans and bonding as they built the historic home over 18 months.

"Was one of the biggest struggles not only accepting, but realising, there was something wrong in the first place, or not?" Harry asked.

Mr Day replied: "Mine was just not getting that person back, who I was before. Being told I could never do (my job) again was a bit of a shock, still is.

"This place and doing all the wood working and stuff is therapeutic. I've been carving all these bits in, it's our own work - no one's telling us to do it, but you're working as a team again."

The trio shared a lighter moment when the recovering veterans said there was no "black and nasty" in the traditionally constructed building.

As a former officer who spent 10 years in the Armed Forces, the Prince recognised "black and nasty" as the all purpose heavy-duty tape used in the military and he joked "that holds planes together".

Earlier, close to an open air fire, the Prince had met most of the team who had constructed the round house and who were now making the building's wooden door.

Later he toured part of the centre's gardens and met other veterans being taught horticulture as part of their recovery programme.

Harry's visit to Tedworth House gave him an overview of Help for Heroes' psychological wellbeing support service - Hidden Wounds.

Hidden Wounds allows people to make contact by phone, or online, with an experienced psychological wellbeing practitioner (PWP), and after an initial assessment, they are given the support which will ultimately enable them to self-manage their issues or help to find support with another charity or agency.

Help For Heroes is a member of Contact, a Charity Partner of Heads Together, the mental health campaign founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to change the national conversation around psychological problems.

Contact is a collaboration of military charities, the NHS, the Ministry of Defence and top academics working together to make the most effective mental health support easily accessible to the Armed Forces community.

The Help for Heroes' Hidden Wounds programme has been running for two years and has helped just over a thousand people during that period.

David Richmond, director of recovering at the military charity, said about Harry's visit: "I think he was quite struck by the social aspect and the fellowship and the camaraderie really evident around both the Iron Age round house and the horticulture - and the various different ways people can be referred into our Hidden Wounds service."

Speaking about the round house, he added: "So they had to work as a team to build it and some of those bits of wood are huge - it's a substantial building done by hand.

"So they're back to that teamwork ethos and the Craic and the banter - that's probably unique to the military in many ways and might be a bit out of place in a civilian environment which is a bit more PC perhaps."

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