North Colchester Healthcare Centre
North Colchester Healthcare Centre

Armed Forces Day - Leanne’s story

June 29 2018

In our final instalment before Armed Forces Day, we’ll be finding out Leanne’s story. Catch up with our previous instalments here, the introduction, Chris’s story, and Andy’s story.

This is Leanne’s story.

Leanne Ridley, anaesthetic and recovery practitioner at Care UK’s Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, shared her story with us, “I didn’t think about a career in the military, I’d always known that I wanted to work within healthcare, but it wasn’t until a friend of mine joined the Army that I enquired into it and decided on joining the Royal Air Force.

“I remember having mixed emotions when I got in; I was really proud of what I had achieved but was also quite nervous about what was ahead.”

Leanne’s military career spanned over the course of sixteen years after initially joining as a RAF Medic, “I worked in various medical centres providing emergency cover to the airfield and personnel on base in Oxfordshire, Northern Ireland and in Iraq during an operational tour.

“In 2008 I was posted to RAF Brize Norton to work in the Aeromedical Evacuation Control Centre where I co-ordinated the movement of sick and injured UK service personnel back to the UK for definitive medical care.

“Then in 2010, working alongside the American Navy in the hospital based in Kandahar, I completed an operational tour in Afghanistan. I then took another aeromedical role in Birmingham, meeting in the aeromed flights and facilitating patient care pathways.”

Leanne then went on to retrain as a operational department practitioner, “Although I loved working in the aeromed role, I wanted to do more of a clinical role so this is when I decided to apply to retrain to ODP.

Diagnosed with PTSD while still serving in the RAF, Leanne began treatment, but after a little over a year of treatment, Leanne found herself medically discharged, “I spent quite a few months not knowing what to do. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to live or even if I wanted to work in healthcare anymore. But a friend, and ex-RAF colleague, of mine worked at Care UK, and he recommended the company to me, so I applied for a Bank position.

“I was later offered a full-time role with Care UK but I wasn’t ready to take it. I instead decided to take some time out and see what that would bring. I went on a few trips and spent a lot of time at home with family.”

After a few months off, Leanne felt ready to get back into full-time work, “A position came up at Care UK, and when I spoke with my manager about a permanent role she was more than happy to have me on the team. My theatre manager has been very supportive and understanding of my PTSD.

“My management are aware of the triggers I have and endeavour to help where possible, although I haven’t really experienced very many since I’ve started work. My team have been supportive too, I’ve just been given a place through Bike Tours for the Wounded on their 10 day Wild West Challenge in America and the theatre team are helping me raise money for it. In August I’ll be flying to Las Vegas where we will pick up Harley Davidson Bikes and ride pillion through Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado”.

Since leaving the Royal Air Force, Leanne has been involved with two charities aimed at supporting veterans, “Bike Tours for the Wounded and Supporting Wounded Veterans (SWV). SWV support wounded veterans through the adjustment from discharge to civilian employment, using a specially designed ski-based development and mentoring programme.

“In March this year, I took part in their “ski-habilitation” in the Swiss resort of Klosters and joined their mentoring programme where I receive support from a one on one mentor. On 1st July I’ll also be taking part in their first SWV Ocean Challenge, where I will be learning to sail around the Isle of Wight.”