In his words: The heartfelt story of military veteran Chris Buckton as he finds hope, home, & purpose at Woody’s Lodge
Meet Christopher Buckton, an honourable military Veteran who faced daunting challenges after serving in the British Armed Forces. He is a hero who battled both physical and mental health issues as he navigated his way back to civilian life. But despite his efforts, Chris found himself feeling lost, isolated, and struggling to find his purpose.
However, as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. And in Chris’s case, it came in the form of Woody’s Lodge.
This is Chris’s story in his own words about how he found a beacon of light that helped him rediscover himself, make lifelong friendships, and find his sense of purpose again.
We invite you to take a moment to hear about his journey, and we hope his struggles, perseverance, and tenacious spirit will inspire you to never give up on your own dreams, even when life gets tough.
Leadership Positions as a Military Veteran
In February 1987, I retired from the British Armed Forces as a Warrant Officer Class 2 serving as an Artificer Quartermaster Sergeant (AQMS) in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).
I then worked for nine years in Oman as a civilian on military contracts with the Sultan’s Armed Forces, two years as a Chief Engineer with the Air Force, followed by seven years as a Senior Instructor with the Army teaching mathematics and telecommunications.
Severe Hearing Loss & Autism Diagnoses
I left military circles in 2001, returning to the UK to teach science and physics in high schools. I struggled to settle into civilian life and was under mental health services for around ten years. By 2008, my hearing loss became so bad I couldn’t understand what the pupils were saying, so I left teaching and set up my business as a self-employed handyman. I was also diagnosed with Autism in the same year.
Divorce, Single Dad, & Isolation
In 2011, my marriage eventually broke down, and I became a single parent bringing up my teenage daughter until she left school in 2017. I had never lived alone in my life and started meeting with groups where I could interact with people. Then in 2020, lockdown happened.
By the summer of 2022, I had become isolated and reclusive, mainly as a result of the lockdown experience. I was in a position of not wanting to meet people, having been in and out of lockdown over a two-year period. I’d become used to the quiet life, living alone and not having to interact with people, no longer having to cope with sensory issues associated with Autism.
Reclusive Life & Discovery of Woody’s Lodge
My brother, whom I Facetime frequently, recognised living as a recluse was not good for my mental health and suggested I look for a support group to start interacting with people again. A Google search eventually revealed Woody’s Lodge, and I plucked up the courage to go along. I was full of trepidation on my first few visits, but I soon realised I felt better having just been around people.
A New Purpose & Lifelong Friendships
Now, my life has changed eight months on from first attending Woody’s four days a week. I have made like-minded, lifelong friends; I have a family. My confidence has returned. I went to Woody’s Lodge broken and needing help. I’m now in a position to help others, which has become my passion.
Volunteering & Emotional Resilience
I volunteer one day a week on the maintenance team at the Amelia Trust Farm, where Woody’s Lodge is located.
I feel emotionally strong and able, just like my younger self in military circles. Someone once said, “A man may leave the Army, but the Army never leaves the man,” and I’ve found that to be true.
Finding Acceptance & Unconditional Love at Woody’s Lodge
But it is the ex-service people at Woody’s Lodge who make a home for Veterans like me. My sense of humour has returned. Having a laugh and joke with others at Woody’s has eluded me for many years since leaving military circles in 2001. I feel I’ve finally found a home. A home where I’m accepted for who I am, without judgement or criticism, a home where I feel unconditional love from all. Thank you, Woody’s Lodge; I’m eternally grateful to you all – staff and attendees included.
A Word from Woody’s Lodge
Thank you, Chris, for sharing your story with us. You have become a symbol of hope for so many others who have struggled to find their way back to civilian life after serving in the military. Your willingness to share your story and help others in their own journey towards healing and purpose is a testament to your character and heart. We feel privileged to have you as a valuable member of our community.
Proudly Welsh Veterans’ Charity
Woody’s Lodge is a proudly Welsh Veterans’ charity that supports Veterans, Reservists, ex-members of the Emergency Services, and their families through financial, psychological, physical, and emotional assistance. We are inspired by those who once served our beautiful country and show our appreciation by helping them reintegrate back into their communities after distressing experiences. You can show your support by donating through our website.
Looking for veteran support services in Wales? Our team at Woody’s Lodge is here to help. And don’t forget to stay updated with the latest events, news, and insider happenings by subscribing to our newsletter