Alex’s Story

“I can’t thank Launchpad enough for the support they have given to me and continue to give to the other veterans.”

Alex joined the Army in 1990 at the age of 16 and completed his training at Bramcote in Nuneaton. He spent a year there before joining the 40 Field Regiment Royal Artillery, The Lowland Gunners in Germany where he served 18 months.

He was medically discharged after two years and said when he left the Army, there wasn’t any support available and ended up in a life of crime on the streets of Scotland. For 15 years, he experienced drugs and served various prison sentences before seeking help through the social with rehabilitation. He said: “I took the furthest one away from where I was in Oxford and spent two and a half years in rehab.”

When he came out of rehab, Alex got a house with his peers from the centre and a job which he had to have as a requirement before leaving so they were certain you could support yourself.

For ten years, life was great and he met somebody and settled down. They were together for four years and had a son, however, he ended up back in prison, serving three years in Northumberland.

Alex said: “When I was in prison, I was introduced to somebody called Gwen at SSAFA, who helped me to get in touch with Launchpad and I have been living at Avondale House in Newcastle for just over a year now.

“The staff at Avondale have been brilliant. They are always there for us and help to keep us occupied and on track. Things are progressing well and I like to take part in activities they organise such as going to the gym, cooking, gardening, having BBQ’s, walking and cycling too.”

Alex has just successfully completed his City & Guilds Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Construction and Civil Engineering, which was a five-week course organised by Building Heroes.

Alex was one of seven veterans that graduated on the course and has gained his Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, which will enable him to find a career in the industry.

He said: “I am hoping the course will open doors for me and give me opportunities to find a career in the construction industry. I’m a plumber by trade but I wanted to challenge myself and do something new.

“The course has been excellent and combined classroom and workshop experience. We’ve learned everything from laying pavements, kerbs, channels and drainage, working concrete and excavating holes and trenches. My dream would be to work on tunneling for HS2 which would be fantastic.”