Initially a personal project, Al Webb (Photographer) had served as a Royal Marine Commando for many years and wanted to look at the experience of the men returning from the Great War of 1914 to 1918 and compare that to the experience he’d had and of the modern veteran returning home.
Al reached out to Dan, a friend with a passion for the History of the Great War, but specifically the Social history. The men and women who lived through it. Dan was also the owner of a tremendous moustache.
Around this time Jamie Sanderson, Co-Founder of Rock2Recovery, got in touch with Al to talk about a campaign to raise awareness around PTS injury and Rock2Recovery’s RSM Old Soldier was born. The team originally planned a one day shoot. “A days leave” was a short project intended to bring back a Great War veteran to modern Britain. It was shot in a day in the sun dappled back lanes of rural East Kent. We gave Jamie the images to use as he saw fit.
The results of that first Old Soldier shoot resonated with both Veterans and serving members of the forces alike and helped a number of people to reach out where they had hesitated before.
We had originally planned to return the Old Soldier to his grave in Flanders after his one days “leave”. The response to him was overwhelming. We realised we couldn’t let him go, the Old Soldier could help, he had a job to do.
What had only been a short personal project grew into an ongoing project for R2R. The team’s involvement has led directly to Al working with some of R2R’s coaches and helping him to quieten the “ghosts” of his past. It has also led to Dan starting to train as a coach for R2R.
Since September 2015 The Old Soldier team has been deeply involved with every aspect of the work Rock2Recovery does. The team has provided awareness campaigns, self-financing shoots across the UK, France & Belgium and providing support for fundraising, talks and events around the UK.
The team brings an important historical context to the modern veterans experience of PTS injury by looking at the way mental health issues have been dealt with from Shell Shock in WW1, through the Battle Fatigue diagnoses of WW2 and Korea and ultimately to today and PTS injury as a result of service in Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and other active theatres of operation around the globe..
Al and Dan directly help too. Acting as triage when people reach out, not only supporting veterans but serving men and women as well as their families and friends. Stress and Trauma injury impacts not only us but everyone around us. We are passionate about doing what we can to support these men and women and help them change their lives for the better.
The Old Soldier is a presence that has created a sense of security and comfort for people looking for help and he continues to be there for those who need support.
“The only thing that has changed is the uniform.” – The Old Soldier