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Mike McCue: What Survivors for Peace means to me

February 24, 2014 | admin

Mike McCue is a veteran of the Aden conflict in 1967 and went on to become a firefighter for 23 years.  He became involved with the Foundation in 2013 after suffering for many years with the trauma he’d experienced due to conflict. 

 “I found out about what work the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation For Peace does whilst I was a client at Combat Stress in Shropshire. I googled Trauma and found out about the Foundation, I did not know about them until then. I thought that the work done there was all about Ireland and the Troubles and the fact that the IRA bombed Warrington.  I spoke to Jo Dover to see if there was any way that they could help me to gain a better quality of life for myself and my family because I had exhausted all the help that was available from Combat Stress and my doctor and the answer was that the Foundation could help me.  I and my wife Maureen had an interview with Ann Beswick and some lunch at the centre and my new life had begun. The hardest part was having the courage to open the front door at the centre and go in.

It was not long after that I was asked by Ann if I would like to attend a sharing experiences weekend. What a life changing experience that was. On the Friday night we met at around six thirty, registered, and we were given our name badges. There were people from all over and a contingent came from Ireland from both sides of the community.  We all sat there very frightened and looking at each other apprehensively.  There were three facilitators: Jo, Ann & Sara who was from Ireland. We were then invited to say where our given names came from, why we were there, and we were asked to place on the table the item that we had brought with us that was very special. This little gesture of sharing greatly helped to break the ice between us.

The next day was very busy and we split into two groups, I have never been so mentally challenged in all my life. We were taken out for a meal, and what I experienced was the coming together of people from different sides of the Troubles, breaking bread together. There was laughter and tears, all the past troubles and mistrust was put aside for a brief moment in time. What a delight to witness such an event. It was really unexpected to see supposed enemies joining together and relaxing. On Sunday, after another days hard work, we all parted very good friends, and I will never forget any one of them or the weekend.

I have since attended a couple of Trauma Days which are held on a Saturday. These days are most helpful.  When you originally thought that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Some clients were brave enough to speak for about fifteen minutes about what affects living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma have and how it has affected their lives and their friends and families. They spoke about how they found coping strategies to help them and their families live. This leads one to go away and reflect on what they found helped them. It convinces you to give it a go, and hope that maybe it will help to come to terms with what I am suffering from.

Jo and Ann arranged a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire  and because the people on the trip were veterans from the Armed Forces it was very meaningful for all of us. We were able to see our comrades names on the wall who were killed in action, and spend a moment with them in our thoughts.  Also we saw the tree planted on behalf of the Foundation and the tree planted  in remembrance of the brother of Mo Norton,  Terence Griffin RA. He was killed on the M62 coach bomb blast in February 1974. It was a very moving experience and one that I would recommend to anyone whether Military or not.

I have also attend a Leadership weekend at the centre where I discovered, surprisingly, that there might be a little bit of leadership in me.  This is what my blog is about. I didn’t think that I had anything important to say and now I want to share my experiences to help other people who are struggling with trauma.  I have offered to speak at the Trauma Days, which I would never have imagined doing.

The funding for this programme will run out at the end of March 2014. We have received notice that the programme will cease. This will put two very valuable and committed people out of, not just a job, but what can be life changing results for vulnerable individuals.  So far Jo and Ann have changed about five hundred people’s lives for the better, unless we help them to get funding, they will be unable to help any further sufferers of this misunderstood condition.

There have been many suggested ways that you can help.  I have written to the Prime Minister Mr Cameron. Been interviewed by the Warrington Guardian news paper, and myself and my wife have joined the Peace Centre Lottery.  At £1 per week with 50% going to the Foundation and the other 50% in a prize of £25,000 pounds and running costs – this is now half what the National Lottery costs.  I urge you to consider joining this very worthy cause, to assist the Foundation to fulfil its work for sufferers who aren’t getting the right help from anywhere.

Let us all be smiling once again when we are off and running and the programme is saved and the Foundation is resurrected from this gloomy period and into the light once again, for all our sakes.”

Mike McCue

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