THE forest on Falkland Estate is to provide the setting for an ambitious pilot project aimed at helping to rehabilitate war veterans.
The project, which focuses on wood training skills, is the brainchild of Anne-Line Ussing, a Danish journalist whose British husband Stuart Press is a former major in the Australian Defence Force.
Stuart was deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed in Rwanda, but Anne-Line says that the fact he was able to spend time alone working on the organic farm the couple run in Denmark had a therapeutic effect on the whole family.
Now Anne-Line wants other veterans and their families to be given the same opportunities to commune with nature - and it’s hoped that the Falkland pilot will eventually lead to a Scotland-wide initiative offering nature retreats for veterans.
Thanks to funding given to the Falkland Stewardship Trust under the Big Lottery ‘Awards for All’ scheme, the project is due to begin with a chainsaw course this Monday, May 28, and a week of activities will follow from June 16, including setting up a base camp and building huts.
Anne-Line explained: “The aim of the project is to support the well-being of veterans by introducing them to nature as a safe place to recreate and rehabilitate and to break the social isolation that many face after returning from active service.
“We also aim to give the veterans new skills and improve their employment possibilities and to create foundations of a site in the woods that can be used for future programmes.
“Participants will set up a ‘base camp’ while socialising and sharing their ideas on the issue, thus contributing to the realisation of the bigger vision.”
She added: “Personally I would like to appeal to wives and girlfriends of veterans like myself to get in touch so we can help give both them and their men a break.”
Anne-Line can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07788 556864.