"Id like to thank Duncan Bannatyne for this opportunity, but more importantly for recognising those of us that are suffering with hidden injuries means so much to me."
Ben Mead, 39, joined the Forces in 1998 and has been deployed to Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan in his time serving the country. During his time in the military, Ben developed Complex PTSD from experiences that are too harrowing for him to discuss to this day.
Alongside his membership at Bannatyne Eastbourne, Ben has also received support from well-known charities Combat Stress, Help for Heroes and Waterloo Uncovered, all of which support veterans with their recovery.
Speaking about his time in the military, Ben said: “In my eyes, I went to war and never came home; it changed me as a person. I’ve seen things that I’ve never got over and never will do, I still have night terrors and it has had a huge impact on my life.
“My condition often means I have a lot of pent up energy, almost hanging over me like a black cloud. The membership at Bannatyne’s has given me a way to release the excess energy and gives me something to focus on.
“I’m a part of the Armed Forces PARA Snowsports Team (AFPST), taking part in Nordic Skiing, and having the gym membership has really helped me to train hard and keep fit.
“I’d like to thank Duncan Bannatyne for this opportunity, but more importantly for recognising those of us that are suffering with hidden injuries means so much to me.”
Duncan Bannatyne gave his backing to the Sunday People’s Save Our Soldiers campaign and offered hundreds of free memberships for veterans with PTSD, with every one of his 72 health clubs taking part.
Duncan, 70, told the Sunday People: “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 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.