By Rory Reynolds
THE first Army rehabilitation centre for injured troops opened in Edinburgh yesterday (Monday) amid calls for more to be done to help Britain’s growing number of injured soldiers.
The Erskine Army Recovery Centre is named in honour of brave Corporal Mark Wright who laid down his life in Afghanistan to save a fellow soldier stranded in a minefield in Helmand Province during 2006.
The centre will help those injured to become well enough to return to the armed forces or settle back into civilian life.
Yesterday brave Corporal Robert Neil, who opened the centre, suffered horrific injuries while fighting the Taliban two years ago – including losing his left eye.He welcomed the extra care for his wounded colleagues but said more needed to be done.
He said: “I’m proud to have opened his centre – but this is long overdue.
“They need more care like this around the country.”
Corporal Neil is hoping to rejoin his battalion when they return to Afghanistan next April.
And he added: “It’s been really hard physically and mentally. Being among other soldiers is a massive part of the recovery.”
Samantha Bremner, is another of those currently in the rehabilitating programme at Erskine.
The 42-year-old – who suffered serious back strain after years as a nurse on the front line – said the Army environment at the centre is important in recovering.
She said: “I was in nursing before I joined up, but joining the army was life-changing – the best things I’ve ever done.
“The care here has been fantastic, I hope every injured soldier can get this care.
“We’ve also all been in the same situation, which really helps.
“The fact that you’re in an Army environment and getting better together really helps.”
Samantha, who is originally from Bellshill near Glasgow, hopes to return to duty with the Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nurses Corps in Belfast.
Major Jim Panton, Chief Executive of Erskine, said the centre will greatly improve the short and long-term support for injured soldiers.
He said: “The opening of the new Army Recovery centre is a momentous day for all involved, not least those soldiers who will benefit immensely from the purpose-built centre and specialist facilities provided.
“The Army recovery centre will provide the final recovery and rehabilitation care required for 12 injured soldiers at a time.
“Being at the forefront of care provisions, through the launch of this pilot centre, is a testament to the dedication and service provided by Erskine over the years.
“We are delighted to be working together with Help for Heroes and the Army to provide this much needed service.”
The head of the British Army General Sir Richard Dannatt was on site to welcome the opening of the centre and praised the work of Help for Heroes campaign behind it and thanked all those who support the armed services.
He said: “Help for heroes have provided really practical things like the swimming pool at Headley Court in Surrey, which is coming online next year and this recovery centre in conjunction with Erskine.
“It also has provided a vehicle for the Great British public to show its support.
“It has supported the Legion and the Poppy Appeal – but it has also caught the imagination of the public.
“The fact that £26million has been raised in 22 months is a fantastic testament to the vision behind Help for Heroes and the real support and energy of the Great British public.
“I’m really grateful and would like to say thank you.”