Pentillie Helps the Heroes

Each year at Pentillie Castle we choose a variety of charities to support. One of the major charities the Coryton family continue to support is Help for Heroes by hosting a week-long stay for war veterans and wounded service personnel on a non-profit basis. The week is designed to allow the Heroes the chance to relax and recover in safe and secure surroundings with support of the Help for Heroes team from the Plymouth Recovery Centre.

The Heroes enjoy being involved in all aspects of their stay and are always interested to talk to the Pentillie team, who in return, are encouraged to interact and talk to the Heroes. One particular highlight for the Pentillie team is when our chef carries out a cookery demonstration in the kitchen on how to cook a chosen dinner, for example lasagne, and that night it is served for dinner.

One of the Heroes, Mark Taylor, was recently interviewed by Pirate FM about his time at Pentillie Castle:

Interview with Pirate FM:

A Cornish castle has been helping war veterans and wounded service personnel relax and recover. They have been spending time at Pentillie Castle on the banks of the River Tamar. It is part of a scheme by Help For Heroes’ Plymouth Recovery Centre to help them unwind and learn new skills, as well as meet others in the same situation.

The 14 men and women spent five days on a health and wellbeing retreat. Tai Chi, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, stone carving, clay pigeon shooting and star gazing were among the many activities on offer, designed to bring the group together as part of a healing experience.

Mark Taylor, from Plymouth, was one veteran who benefitted – he has chronic fatigue syndrome and PTSD from his time as a medic in the Army. During his 18-year-long military career he saw service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Belize, Botswana and Canada. But it was in Afghanistan that his life changed forever.

During a routine patrol, his unit took shelter in a compound after an Improvised Explosive Device was discovered. There Mark breathed in dust mites which led to him contracting Q-Fever. This left him with chronic fatigue syndrome and PTSD and saw him medically discharged just short of his 22 years’ full-time service. With his medical background, Mark set himself up as a first-aid instructor. But he suffered a further blow from his injuries.

He said: “I found driving really hard. Standing up all day, getting down to kneel to show people CPR. I just struggled. I couldn’t do it.

“So now I just stop at home and unless my wife comes out with me I just don’t go anywhere. I’m pretty much housebound.”

He says the situation has affected him badly: “I feel horrendous really. I don’t feel confident in myself, I want to go back to how I was. Fit and healthy.

“Come the evening 6 o’clock I’m sat on the settee. I don’t move. I can’t. I’m that tired. It just leaves me in a real horrible place. I just wish I could dig myself out of it.

“I can see light at the end of the tunnel now. It’s taken a long time to get where I am now.”

It took a lot for Mark to leave the security of home and his family and drive himself to Cornwall.

He added: “At the end of the week I felt very relaxed, comfortable.

“Talking to the guys here and listening to how they got injured or what they were still doing service-wise. I just took away advice that people had given me and think that it’s not all doom and gloom.

“I’m not up for going to pubs yet and meeting total strangers,” he added: “But, I’m getting out of the house more. I have got that little more confidence to get out there.”

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