Carly was a serving soldier for 13 years. After leaving the Army, she struggled with serious mental health problems and PTSD, largely triggered by her experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. After receiving counselling from NHS mental health services, our partner charity, The Poppy Factory, helped Carly to believe in herself and enjoy life again.

Carly grew up in the Wirral and wanted to join the Army from the age of 12. In 1997, aged 16, she joined the Royal Artillery and later transferred to the Adjutant General’s Corps in 2003. She served tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Iraq and Afghanistan.


In 2004, during Carly’s service in Iraq with the Scots Guards, her role was protecting local women during search operations of their homes, which was often a very traumatic experience for all involved. Recalling her experiences in such a tough conflict environment, Carly believes that one particularly difficult incident was the initial trigger for her PTSD.

In 2007, Carly’s unit was deployed to Afghanistan with the Royal Artillery. She says: “This was another difficult tour. There was loss of life and it was a hard environment to be in. It wasn’t until I left the Army that I realised how my experiences impacted my mental health.”

Carly embraced Army life and was always active, lively and contented: “I was proud of getting to the rank of Corporal”. She left the Army in 2010 and worked overseas and in the UK. During the Covid pandemic, she experienced family bereavement and personal problems, including flashbacks from her Army service. In December 2021, she had a mental breakdown which led to a suicide attempt and being diagnosed with PTSD. Fortunately, Carly was able to receive counselling support from Op Courage, the NHS mental health service for military personnel, who referred her to The Poppy Factory, our partner charity that supports vulnerable veterans, which we proudly fund. She says: “I reverted to being a child, lost my voice, couldn’t explain myself, so low, no confidence. Where is the old Carly?”

During the past year, The Poppy Factory has helped Carly to regain her self-confidence and she is now undertaking community voluntary employment with Everton in the Community.

Carly says: “My thanks to ABF for your funding support. With the help of Andrew, my Employment Consultant at The Poppy Factory, I am a completely different person now. If you had seen me a year ago, I was a little mouse. I no longer isolate myself, I am meeting people, so I don’t feel I’m going crazy. I also enjoy my voluntary work and now have so much to look forward to in life.”

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