Knowing is half the battle, speaking about it is the rest.

‘Working with PTSD’ is an initiative I’ve created that informs employers and encourages employees with the condition back into work. Being an equal opportunity employer and able to relate to this gives me a perspective that the civilian market can’t match. I hope this article gives a glimpse into how to cope with PTSD-related issues and how to work through them.

I’ve not been diagnosed with PTSD and like most others in my situation, I never will. Preferring to suffer in silence than seek help or advice, it is only when things get out of control will we get, or be given, the help we need.

My experience started in 2005 after the previous year’s Iraq tour. The signs were there (excessive drinking, mood swings, attitude changes, anxiety in populated areas and headaches) but I couldn’t recognise them. My career and relationship began to suffer, I couldn’t handle stress in any shape or form and I began to get into trouble. The institution I was part of failed to recognise that I was suffering, choosing instead to punish my indiscretions. I went AWOL from the army and was rightly punished by my unit. I was arrested in Manchester for being involved in a fight, and taken to court. This led to a conviction which, on appeal, was reduced to an absolute discharge. The fact that my solicitor was, like me, formerly of the Household Division was a major factor in my favour.

The Squadron Leader saw that I needed some time away from the unit, and arranged a placement for me at the recruitment office in Manchester, which meant I could be home with my family. For a time this helped but it did lead to the eventual breakdown in relations with my girlfriend. I can’t blame her for anything – I wasn’t faithful and I became too hard to deal with on nights out.

2007 saw me go back to Iraq. I’d been promoted and felt a renewed sense of purpose: recognition and responsibility can do wonders for your well-being. The tour itself was tough and as it drew to a close I was sent home to complete a commanders course – 5 months’ intensive training covering all aspects of leadership, tactics, gunnery, driving, maintenance and advanced signals. This came with only one condition: I had to be part of another tour straight afterwards – to Afghanistan in 2008.

During my Crew Commanders course, I met my now wife, Shirley.  We hit it off immediately. I didn’t hold back on anything, all the infidelities, problems and gory details, so she could make up her mind about me – and luckily she stayed. She endured the toughest tour I’ve experienced, with two colleagues lost and many more injured. She still today thinks me lucky to have not been hurt or worse out there. The lowest moment came with the loss of one of the kindest men I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. In a very short time I came to admire his work ethic, his manner and his complete professionalism, whilst everything around us was literally falling apart. Trooper Ratu Sakesi Babakobau (‘Babs’) died on the 2nd May 2008, and I felt responsible. When my vehicle broke down I asked him and another of my dismounts to cross deck into another vehicle. Almost immediately afterward he was killed, whilst driving through a ravine, by an IED. My sincere condolences always go to his family.

As our tour came to a close we sadly lost another fantastic young soldier, Trooper James Munday (‘Magpie’). He had a great personality and lots of potential, yet was sadly killed on 15th October, 2008. I only spoke in passing with him, as we hadn’t worked together before, but as many of my friends and colleagues will agree, he’s sorely missed. His Mother continues his fight for justice to this day.

In 2009, upon my return to work, I was promoted and posted to London for ceremonial duties. This absolutely broke me. I felt as though I’d been betrayed because I had been promised the chance to train to be an instructor and go to one of the Army training units. Instead I had to learn to ride horses, clean kit and not sleep or eat properly for several months. During this period I found that Shirley (now my now wife) had become pregnant, and this along with my bitterness toward my situation caused me to sign off and leave the army. My stress levels soared and I literally ran away from everything – from the slightest confrontation or challenge, and I pushed people away from me. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe how low and suicidal I felt.

This time it was serious, and my wife made me seek help from a doctor. That year she experienced all of the effects someone can go through as a partner. I suffered nightmares, visions and anxiety, I spoke different languages in my sleep, called fire orders, shied away from any loud noises, I didn’t want to go out, I lost weight, lost interest in sex, I collapsed, and even tried to strangle her in my sleep.

I don’t understand how she managed, yet the year passed, our baby arrived and I became a father. I think this was my defining moment. Life wasn’t about me anymore. Someone relied on me completely, and I loved it. I began a new career outside of the army for the first time in almost a decade, and I won’t lie it was scary. However I found new ways of coping. I began to exercise daily, read more books, began courses online and spoke to like-minded people about their experiences.

Chris Vaile a young American Marine I met in Iraq 2010 became a good friend and we did everything together – eating, working, and exercising – every day. He had been through similar events but had a different perspective on life. It impressed that me he was such a very positive person at just 24 years old and having been through so much, including surviving an IED in Fallujah. Tragedy hit later that year when Chris Was killed by an IED whilst working in Afghanistan. I remember we had plans for his 25th birthday. My wife and I, along with Chris and his girlfriend, were going to hire an apartment in Vegas to celebrate the occasion. My heart truly goes out to his Mother, Cara and father, Duffy. I still miss Chris.

In total, I spent eight years away from the UK in hostile environments meeting some great people (some not so great), and I lost good friends and colleagues along the way. While in Iraq, Nick Hunt died in a car accident; Steve Hovarth suffered a sudden heart attack. People I have known have put their own lives in peril in order to provide a better life for the loved ones back home.

These events contributed towards my decision to help others in their journey through their own personal struggles, many of which I can relate to. Personally, I don’t advocate medication to solve mental illnesses. I found that exercise and speaking to the right people were more beneficial. I can’t count how many times people have sought my help or advice in these matters, but I have saved relationships, stopped people from harming themselves and encouraged people to look differently into their issues.

My experiences led to me set up a company which gives veterans a job worthy of their skill sets, working with someone who understands them without prejudice. 

Those of us in the military community are very bad at asking for help. I’m not a charity. Instead I’m giving people a way to help themselves. And if they need some guidance, I’m here to advise.

  • Graeme Edwards-Beech

Managing Director

The Cheshire Group

 

A little over three years ago I had an idea for starting my own company. Initially, I wanted to create a security company in my own fashion, one that wasn’t just about profit but more about quality, paying a fair wage, supplying the highest industry standards from a pool of quality individuals already in place and tested.

I saw a big problem immediately – big, established companies cornered the market with low paid, ‘budget’ security staff, with little or no experience. I adapted the plan and so began The Cheshire Group, with the aim of creating an agency to provide luxury services in an area I lived and worked in. Having extensive experience both nationally and internationally working for High Net-Worth Individuals I thought bringing that experience to the North West of England could be achieved.

About me

I’m 34 years old and married with three children. I’ve worked away from my home for most of my career, in the military and private security industry. My overwhelming desire was always to come home, to find a great job and be able to see my family every day. However this didn’t come to pass, so I took the leap of faith and put all my spare time into this company. I created everything from the ground up including building the website, creating and running social media promotions, making contacts, finding clients and recruiting staff – all whilst working days or nights in a full-time job.

That magic job we always yearn for never gets given to you – you have to go and get it, and sometimes you even have to build your own. I found after leaving the military that civilian companies I spoke with were unable to relate to ex-forces personnel. They can have preconceptions before even interviewing them, believing we all suffer from physical or mental conditions that will make us unsuitable for a civilian role. This couldn’t be further from the truth and I know that veterans can have superior skills and qualities, especially in the areas of communication, adaptability, leadership, task completion, planning, preparation, routine, appearance, dedication – and above all, loyalty.

Until recently, military qualifications have been hard to translate into the ‘Civvie’ sector. In my own experience, the resettlement and transition team were found wanting. When I left the army in 2010 after serving eight years (with three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan) I felt abandoned. I tried many different career roles, from the manager at a car dealership to a retained firefighter with a view to becoming a permanent one. None of these came to fruition and I was given a contact for a company in America by a friend.

This is where my security career started and subsequently led me across the middle east, north Africa and western Europe. Steadily, the decline in the industry began, and the standards dropped as fast as the wages. The situation was the same elsewhere as it is here in now the UK, with cheap unskilled labour being preferred over qualified, experienced, highly skilled professionals. I decided that I would endeavour to raise those standards within my company and not lower them due to others’ budgets. (If other companies acted similarly then maybe they could afford to pay a correct wage.)

2016 was a year of heartbreak, to say the least, notably due to the loss of the woman who had been in my life for 32 years. My stepmother was sadly diagnosed with cancer in March that year, and died in the August. She was instrumental in my early life, guiding me through troubled teenage years and into work, then on to college, owning my own garage at 18 years old, and then joining the Army. My joining the army was one of her and my own parents’ proudest days, and I’m often told by friends how much she would gloat that she had a son in the army.

I couldn’t have come through all this work and loss without the most important person in my life, the one who’s literally given me everything so I can achieve my dreams. My wife, who’s raised three children on her own whilst I worked all over the world, and has been my rock. I owe her greatly.

The ambition for the Cheshire Group is to give veterans employment – not charity, but a worthy job for their skill sets, and for our civilian staff, a wage befitting their qualifications. These aims, in such an exclusive industry, set us apart from other similar companies and ensure our leading-industry status.

I hope this gives you an insight into what I and the Cheshire Group stand for.

  • Graeme Edwards-Beech

Managing Director

The luxury service industry is a small but unique sector, and therefore it is essential to ensure that the people we entrust to carry our name and reputation forward are the very best.

It is important to address all concerns and hiring requirements put to us by our customers, this inevitably leads to symmetry when searching for their private staff.  

Reliability, loyalty, discretion, and diligence are some of the key characteristics I look for when hiring private staff. Extensive vetting is carried out, as ensuring references and qualifications are legitimate will reduce the risk of fraud.

My personal attention to detail means I can reassure our clients that the people we supply are they very best industry professionals. Clients can rely on our judgment, and satisfied clients subsequently recommended the company to others.

We recruit for a variety of roles including household managers, child carers, domestic staff and security consultants.

  • Graeme Edwards-Beech
  • Managing Director

 

Statistics don’t lie: London is the hub of finance, tourism and fashion in the UK. However, a town in the north is beginning to buck that trend and tap into some of that wealth.

Manchester, UK’s biggest city outside of London, has seen in recent years an increase in industry, media and house building. The wealth and success of both Manchester football teams have focussed attention here, and this, along with a rise in the number of foreign students coming here to study all point to it becoming ‘the capital of the north’.

Towns and suburbs in the north west are home to many wealthy and well-known celebrities, entrepreneurs, writers and artistic leaders. The Cheshire towns of Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Prestbury and Hale comprise the ‘Golden Triangle,’ which boasts more millionaires than anywhere else in the UK outside London.

Having Manchester airport less than 10 miles from the city centre brings many travellers, both foreign and domestic, and access from the major arterial routes, the M6 and M60, enhance the attractiveness of the location.

Finally, with planned the government-backed HS2 and increased foreign investment, I can only see Manchester and the north west become a true northern powerhouse, and somewhere more people will want to live and raise their children or start a business.

 

Graeme Edwards-Beech

Managing Director

thecheshiregrouplimited.com

Housekeeper peace of mind

Having a housekeeper is more than just having someone to cook, clean and iron. A housekeeper can provide you with peace of mind whilst you’re away from home.

Having someone in the property is a big deterrent and an advanced warning should anything unusual happen. For for example, if someone should come to the door asking about a new drive or windows while in fact paying more attention to the doors, cameras, and sensors – then your housekeeper can bring this to your attention this and you can raise your guard.

Advice

Always seek advice from qualified professionals including the police and specialist security services, to help protect yourself, your property and your family.

At The Cheshire Group, our risk management consultants can give detailed security reviews of your property and lifestyle. We can also carry out full background checks on private staff.

 

If you are an entrepreneur or a celebrity, are your children at risk?

In the UK, risk of kidnap is relatively low, however extortion through social media is on the increase. When young people today share their intimate details on facebook, Instagram, twitter etc., they become a prime target.

Therefore educating your children and putting the correct measures in place around them is key – for example getting them not to check in at every coffee shop or club they go to, and can reduce risks to them.

Vetting

Full and extensive vetting should be taken when hiring people to work either in your home or directly with the family members. Ensuring references and qualifications are legitimate will reduce the risk of criminality slipping through the cracks.

Location

Living in affluent, low-crime areas, putting physical barriers in place, living in secured apartments, or employing security services to provide CCTV, response or static security and having a police force that patrols neighbourhoods regularly – all of thesemeasures combine to create an overlapping defence ‘bubble’.

Social network

Socialising with people of the same net-worth may seem elitist, although this is actually a form of security measure. Often, people find celebrities or entrepreneurs direct, rude or distant. This can be because the celebrity knows from experience that socialising with people who don’t have the same fame or fortune can lead to problems, and has in some cases led to envy – a key factor in extortion and kidnap cases.

An unwitting friend passing information to a third party without considering the consequences is also a risk.

Discretion

Keeping a low profile, and sharing travel plans with as few people as possible will reduce the associated risks. Employing the correct staff to secure, arrange and provide the security service is essential. Don’t advertising that you are away from your multi-million pound home and expensive cars, or that your 18-year-old is having a party – lest they unwittingly invite half of the UK to join the reveling whilst you’re away.

Security

Ensure you seek the correct advice for your situation. High Net-Worth Individuals should employ security consultants to ensure their life can continue with the minimum disruption. Denying an extortion/kidnap opportunity – although the cost can seem expensive at the time – will undoubtedly pay off in the long-run. 

The Cheshire Group provides security services and consultation for all your needs.

thecheshiregrouplimited.com

The Cheshire group is the only luxury lifestyle concierge service located in the heart of Cheshire. 

Proud Heritage

The Cheshire Group’s director, Graeme Edwards-Beech, is proud to have served in Her Majesty’s Household Division, whose values and standards are respected throughout the world. The Cheshire Group brings these values and standards to the civilian private sector.

Reassurance

Be reassured with 17 years’ military and private sector experience – quality, discretion and attention to detail are guaranteed. We only supply the highest standard of industry professionals, whatever your needs, ensuring that our client’s requirements are not only met but exceeded.

Confidence

Have confidence that our team puts every candidate through a thorough screening, enhanced vetting, and multi-stage recruitment process. 

Protection

All Cheshire Group staff undergo DBS checks, and we require that for many roles they undergo fitness assessments and further training to obtain specialist qualifications. Security personnel are SIA Licensed and trained in First Aid (FPOS-I minimum) and Yacht Crews must have STCW95 training. Childcare professionals must be Ofsted registered and have full liability insurance. 

Flexibility 

Whether a Chauffeur, Nanny or Security Consultant, whatever your need may be, we have the perfect person to suit the most discerning client’s requirements.

Contact us for more information