An innovative show acted out by and telling the stories of the local armed forces community comes to the Waterside later this month, from March 26 to 28.
The cast, which range in age from 15-89, consists of nine veterans, three Service personnel, two military wives, two cadet instructors and a Reservist family member. Several back stage and front of house roles have also been given to people from the armed forces.
Below we tell the stories of two of the people involved in Contact, produced by Bravo 22 Company.
RAF MAN PARALYSED IN CRASH
Luke Delahunty, 42, served for eight years in the RAF Regiment as a Senior Aircraftman, completing tours in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia and Bosnia.
Having joined the cadets as a teen,he had wanted to join the Air Force since a young age and remembers the amazing friendships he made and the camaraderie of his time in Service.
Sadly, in 1996, he had a motorbike crash on the way to work leaving him paralysed from the chest down and in a wheelchair. His injuries led him to be medically discharged from the RAF in 1998.
Having gone through some difficult times as he reintegrated into civilian life and adjusted to his new disability, Luke now works for the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital helping others through their rehabilitation process following spinal cord injuries.
Luke said: “I joined Bravo 22 Company as I wanted a challenge. Being part of a team that is creating a brand new play from scratch sounded like a lot of fun!
“Having left the Forces over 15 years ago I have already conquered a lot of the difficulties that come with transitioning into civilian life, but there are lots of ex-Service personnel taking part in the project that are still going through that process.
“I think it’s really important for them to meet people that have gone through similar experiences and have no doubt that this project will help them throughout their recovery process.”
A BACKSTAGE MILITARY OPERATION!
Jane Grant, 40, served for fifteen years in the Army’s Adjutant General’s Corps, completing operational tours in Macedonia, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Having joined the Army for the challenge and excitement a career in the Forces entails, she remembers the amazing friendships she made and the camaraderie of her time in Service. Working in HR and personnel, Jane’s roles varied greatly on the different tours but her most challenging role was in Afghanistan where she headed up a small team who was responsible for initiating casualty reporting up the Chain of Command, about the deaths and injuries of those deployed.
Three months into the tour in Afghanistan, Jane discovered a lump in her breast and was flown back to the UK, where she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. Eight months of treatment followed and it was only at the end of this extremely difficult time battling the disease that she began struggling to deal with the things she had experienced in Afghanistan.
Jane left the Army in February 2014 and has spent the last year focusing on her recovery from cancer and normalising her life.
She has spent the last week undertaking stage management and technical theatre training with LAMDA and will be providing technical support for Contact.
“I am looking forward to applying the skills I learnt in the Army to the Bravo 22 Company project - much of what happens back stage at a theatre relies on the same principles of teamwork, organisation and communication, much like while on an operation.”
>>> People can take part in a free workshop with the writer of the Contact, the play acted by and based on their experiences of the local armed forces community. Roz Wyllie will be on hand at the Waterside Theatre on Saturday from 10am to 1pm. You can learn how to write your own story based on experiences that are related to the Armed Forces.
Roz will be joined by Buckinghamshire based RAF veteran, author and award winning screenwriter, Dougie Brimson.
His film, Green Street, starring Elijah Woods won several international awards. He will talk about the transition he made from RAF veteran to award winning writer.
If you are interested in attending please email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Please give your name, contact details, why you want to attend the workshop and your connection, if any, to the Armed Forces community. No experience is necessary. Please note places will be given on a first come first served basis.
The project is run by The Royal British Legion, in association with Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and supported by LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art).
It has been financed by the Legion and match funded by Buckinghamshire’s Armed Forces Community Covenant scheme.