“The wealth of kindness, support and friendship has been enormous, I am very grateful.”

Karl is taking part in Op Surf UK this week and he wanted to share the positive impacts the programme is already having on him. He's also written a special poem about his experience. 

I've struggled this past few years with some major changes in my life. They include, depression, PTSD and all it's intricate problems. I've also lost my way with God, although I do still trust in a higher being.

I have been fortunate along my journey this past 3 years to meet some incredible and inspirational people. PTSD makes it all too easy to hide away from life and leaving the house is such a struggle. But if you can manage then the doorways to a much more valuable mental wellbeing are endless. 

This week I have been fortunate to have been invited to Newquay in Cornwall to learn to surf. It has been organised by Operation Surf, the Endeavour fund, Help for Heroes, AIG as well as a myriad of helpful volunteers from the surfing community. 

I had never surfed and the idea intrigued me yet my condition did cause anxiety. Yet the first day I was immediately put at ease by other injured veterans, the staff and volunteers. The wealth of kindness, support and friendship has been enormous, I am very grateful. 

But what about the surfing? Well I set myself an objective to stand on the board by the end of the week. That may sound a tad obtuse but at my age and ability it was like climbing Mount Everest. 

My instructor, Dan and his volunteer helpers were amazing and we began riding the board flat on stomachs the ventured onto knees before finally climbing the summit and standing up. That was the first day, and I was amazed at both myself and the rest of the group. That evening we all met for dinner and the red faces glowing hot made me smile. I've realised now why surfers have skin like leather. 

Today is another day, I write this poem from the minibus on route to the surf. May the good times and waves roll. 

POEM:

An unpredictable power
That's clear for you to see
Don't trust the way it talks to you
You mustn't trust the sea

The waves roll in like soldiers
They march in staggered rows
They tumble turquoise into white
Then growl as anger grows

You have to learn your limit
Then whisper softest words
Be on your guard whilst in its grasp
And soar along like birds

So take your board of poly
Then set it on the sea
Caress the water where you are
Then let your spirit free

That board is like a wild steed
You have to take control
Your feet are your authority
The journey from your soul

So ride your wave with fervour
Embrace the mighty sea
But keep a watch below your board
As the sea might disagree

 

Karl during a surfing session at Op Surf UK
Karl during a surfing session at Op Surf UK