Carl Harvey joined the Royal Air Force in 1998, aged just 17. Over the next eighteen years, Carl deployed to Kosovo, the Mediterranean, Sierra Leone, the Middle East and the Falklands, working with helicopters, fighter jets and, finally, reconnaissance and bomber aircraft.
In 2010, whilst on a team building exercise, Carl suffered what he thought a small injury to his knee but it later transpired that he had in fact fractured his femur and damaged the surrounding nerves. The true condition of his injury went undetected for almost a year and by the time it was discovered, Carl’s nerves had been irreversibly damaged resulting in a serious nerve-condition.
Over a four-year period, doctors tried several different treatments and operations to restore the function of Carl’s leg, but his level of movement continued to deteriorate and Carl eventually lost use of the leg entirely, which was both physically and mentally debilitating.
‘I was in bad place as I hadn’t been at work in some time and they had signed me off long-term. I was isolated, feeling very low and forgotten about.’
In 2014, the decision was made to amputate Carl’s leg above the knee to try and reduce the symptoms and to give him a small chance of walking again.
‘Amputation is not an easy process. It takes its toll on both you and your family as they have to see you go through the struggle and often there is very little they can do to help.’
‘After just over a year of rehabilitation at Headley Court, I was deemed ready to be independent and was medically discharged from the RAF after eighteen and half years’ service.’
Carl first came across The Not Forgotten when he still had his leg, but it wasn’t functioning. We invited him white-water canoeing in the French Alps, where he met other veterans with similar injuries,
‘I had let myself get into a deep depression and become isolated, I was at the point where I felt incapable of being able to live a normal and active life, but that first trip with The Not Forgotten was the start of things changing. It was the first time that I had actually spent time with other disabled or seriously injured people in both a similar mindset to me and those that had been through it and come out the other side, it was a revelation. I realised that I may have to do things differently and they may take more time, but I could still do things that I never thought possible.’
Carl remained in touch with The Not Forgotten following that first trip and went on to attend more as his confidence grew,
‘For the majority of veterans the thing they miss the most is being around their comrades, the humour, the adventure and a sense of achievement. The Not Forgotten provides all of these and through them I have experienced many new things, including some once in a lifetime trips, but most importantly The Not Forgotten makes you feel like a friend and a part of their family. I have had involvement with several military charities but the way in which The Not Forgotten runs their events and makes their guys feel makes them stand out amongst the rest.
I know that my life could have taken a very different turn had The Not Forgotten not come along when they did.’
PROUDLY NOT FORGOTTEN