Duchess of Cornwall meets Navy veteran

Southsea navy veteran Justin Heath meets the Duchess of Cornwall at a celebration of the work of The Poppy Factory ''Picture: Oliver Rudkin

Southsea navy veteran Justin Heath meets the Duchess of Cornwall at a celebration of the work of The Poppy Factory ''Picture: Oliver Rudkin

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Southsea veteran Justin Heath met the Duchess of Cornwall at a celebration to mark The Poppy Factory’s milestone of getting 500 disabled veterans back into employment.

The 35-year-old was medically discharged from the navy with a sleep disorder. He had served as a medical assistant for six years.

On leaving, Justin explored potential careers but was forced to change his plans after he severed tendons and permanently damaged nerves in his wrist in an accident.

But with help from The Poppy Factory he has now found a permanent position working as a senior fundraiser for Alabaré Homes for Veterans, which provides somewhere to live for ex-forces personnel who have fallen on hard times.

He said: ‘This is the first time since leaving the navy that I can ground myself and really settle into civilian life.

‘This job has put me on the next level up on the playing field. This is crucial in my career development.

‘It has given me a proper step on the ladder. I’ve got a lot of skills and I’m starting to believe that now.’

The Duchess, patron of The Poppy Factory, met ex-servicemen and women who have found new careers thanks to the volunteer mentors and Poppy Factory staff.

The reception at Admiralty house showed the appreciation for all of the hard work by veterans and supporters in achieving the milestone.

Adjusting to civilian life can sometimes be difficult for ex-military personnel, and those with physical or mental health challenges can find it extremely tough.

It is estimated that there are 17,500 unemployed ex-services personnel who have a disability of working age.

For more information go to poppyfactory.org.

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