"Duncans acknowledgement that exercise benefits mental health, and his willingness to help in this way is brilliant. "
48-year-old Sue Stephenson-Martin, who lives in Norwich with her wife, daughter, and menagerie of two cats, one dog, fish and guinea pigs, served aboard HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious as a seagoing Wren.
Frontline experiences on an exchange tour of Bosnia during the Balkan War, where Sue spent time ashore, led to a diagnosis of PTSD, which she says affects her life and stops her doing things she previously enjoyed.
Sue, who is a peer support worker employed by Mind, working at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust Wellbeing Service, said: “I get anxious, shaky, agitated and hyper-vigilant when I am out. I find it difficult to relax and life is a challenge as there are so many things I can’t do anymore, and I must be aware of my limitations.
“Going to the Bannatyne Norwich West health club helps me physically with a painful knee injury I received during my Navy days, and a debilitating back injury that occurred out of service. Mentally, every time I train, I try and challenge myself to do more, or to do something different.
“I have tried Pilates and will be having a go at Zumba and Boxercise, both completely out of my comfort zone. I want to have my mind, spirit and body as one, so I can be a better person and be the best me possible for my clients at work.
“Duncan’s acknowledgement that exercise benefits mental health, and his willingness to help in this way is brilliant. As a female veteran there is very little bespoke care and support for our wellbeing available, and me and another former Wren really want to establish a charity to fill this gap – perhaps Duncan would get involved!”
Duncan, 70, told the Sunday People when he launched his offer: “I truly believe our armed forces are the best in the world. I think they do an amazing job and the bravery that comes with doing the job they do is outstanding.
“If I can help in a small way such as giving a free membership to help combat PTSD, then I am more than happy to do that. It is something that is very dear to me.”
Duncan’s dad William endured three-and-a-half years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Second World War and was starving to death before liberation in 1945.
William, an infantryman in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, had been captured while fighting Japan’s invasion of Malaya and Singapore in 1942.
Duncan said: “My father was somebody who did not really talk about his time as a PoW. However, over the years I did get bits out of him and when I hear what he endured it makes me so proud to have seen how brave he was.”
Duncan’s military background is one of the reasons he feels strongly about the plight of troops with PTSD.