Charlie’s Story

19 February 2024

A road accident while cycling one evening in July 2020 prematurely ended the career of Royal Marine Commando Paul ‘Charlie’ Charles. A broken neck, fractured skull and traumatic brain injury were among the injuries that forced him to give up the only job he’d ever wanted.  After a period at the Royal Navy’s Recovery Unit, Hasler, he was referred to Veterans Outdoors where our experiences and opportunities for veterans were among the only things still happening during COVID.

Charlie attended a few of VO’s events and activities and joined our regular veterans’ horticultural group. He attended a Birds of Prey Experience, enjoyed some wood carving workshops and discovered a real passion for being in an outside environment. As he adapted to what he knew would be lifelong injuries, he was mentored by the charity’s Head of Operations, Si Richardson, who Charlie describes as both an inspiration and role model. Charlie told us: “Knowing I had the continued support of Si and the charity, I have been able to grow, thrive and recover, living my best life.”

A highlight of Charlie’s recovery journey was taking part in the Invictus Games 2023 in Dusseldorf.  Charlie found the confidence to put in hours of hard work, dedication and training and came away with 1 swimming gold and 3 silver medals.

“Life has changed dramatically for me. With the support of Si and the rest of the team at Veterans Outdoors I’ve been able to achieve my goals and lead a happy life, despite certain pathways being changed. If it wasn’t for Veterans Outdoors I wouldn’t be where I am today.”