‘Everything around you - the worries, stress – just disappear and nothing else matters’ says former Army veteran Neil Edwards from Chivenor

Former serviceman Neil Edwards from Chivenor says surfing helps to deal with PTSD. Picture: James DarlingFormer serviceman Neil Edwards from Chivenor says surfing helps to deal with PTSD. Picture: James Darling

A former serviceman from Chivenor has taken to surfing to combat post traumatic stress disorder.

This week Neil Edwards, 37, has joined 14 wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women at Watergate Bay, Cornwall on a surfing scheme run by Help for Heroes.

The six day Op Surf UK programme ends on Saturday and is supported by the Endeavour Fund and Amazing Surf Adventures.

It works at rehabilitation and recovery, working with instructors and professional surfers including Woolacombe's big-wave surfer Andrew Cotton.

Neil joined the Army at the age of 16 and has served all over the world including Brunei, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2014 following his time in Afghanistan.

During leave in 2016 Neil suffered a relapse which put him in a world of pain for days and led to flashbacks.

He was placed on long-term sick leave in December 2016, pending his medical discharge this November.

He decided to get involved with Op Surf UK following a chance encounter with someone on last year's course and explained how much getting involved had helped physically and psychologically.

He said: "Surfing is something special, it is your time with the ocean. Everything around you - the worries, stress - just disappear and nothing else matters.

"To surf with like minded people who are after that same moment, it is going to be amazing. I hope that Op Surf UK will give me the confidence that I am not alone and the encouragement that I need to look forward to my discharge in November 2017."

Neil will also have the opportunity to add to his individual experience with workshops about employment and life after the military.

At the end of the week, participants will take part in the first ever English Adaptive Surfing Open, an event for surfers with a variety of disabilities, run by Surfing England.

The Endeavour Fund is a programme managed by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

It supports wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel and Veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.