Civil engineering company Jones Bros is giving a former soldier who almost died while on duty in Afghanistan a chance to get back into work.
Carl Ellis Thomas, from Caernarfon, almost drowned in 2009 after the road his armoured patrol vehicle was travelling in gave way, causing it to crash into a canal.
Seven years on from the accident, Carl is being given a fresh start by the Ruthin-based civil engineering company, which is now looking to offer similar opportunities to other former servicemen.
The 34-year old, who served in the reconnaissance and sniper platoon of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was rescued by fellow soldiers after his vehicle fell off a makeshift road and rapidly filled with water.
After being rushed to Camp Bastion, he spent the next three weeks in a coma and was transferred to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
Having left the army following the incident, Carl received support from military charities and organisation focused on helping him adapt to civilian life while holding down a number of short term jobs.
Fortunately for Carl, a trial scheme at Jones Bros introduced by another former Welsh Guard is now allowing him to retrain as a plant operative.
Carl is the first person to be taken on as part of an initiative introduced by the firm’s health and safety manager Mike Mowbray to give former servicemen a chance to get back into work.
Having spent the last four months with Jones Bros, Carl is now picking up new skills while working on a major windfarm development in Bridlington.
Carl said: “I’m really grateful for the opportunity I’ve got here, and it’s brilliant to get back into a meaningful job and pick up new skills.
“I really enjoy working with the lads and being busy. I’ve always loved working outdoors, and I’m enjoying the opportunity Jones Bros has given me.
“After the accident, it took me about a year to recover, and it has been hard adjusting to life outside the military. Fortunately, the support I’ve had from the team at Jones Bros has been great, and I’m thrilled to be back in work.”
Carl, who also served in Iraq and Bosnia during his six years in the military, is the first former serviceman to be taken on by Jones Bros under the scheme, which is now looking to offer more training opportunities for former servicemen
Mike Mowbray, who himself served with the Welsh Guards from 1988 until 1993, said: “Carl has been fantastic during the short time he’s been with us, and we’re due to hold interviews with a few more ex-servicemen in the next few weeks.
“I’ve always been keen to support initiatives which help former soldiers struggling to adapt to civilian life.
“I joined Jones Bros in June last year, and quickly realised that the company and former Welsh Guardsmen could benefit from each other, as I know from experience how ex-servicemen are generally hard working, reliable people.
“I discussed the idea with our training manager Rich Owen, and we came up with a plan which we put to WO1 Martin Topps at the Welsh Guards and regimental casualties officer former WO2 Jiffy Myers.
“They both had previously worked with Carl in the battalion and at the time and put him forward for a place with us, which to date has been very successful.
“It’s important to recognise the service people like Carl gave to his country.
“Hopefully we’ve given him a new sense of purpose, and we’re now looking at other ways we can help people like Carl ease back into civilian life.”
Founded in the 1950s and employing almost 350 people, Ruthin-based Jones Bros has grown rapidly in the last decade. It is currently working on contracts in various sectors including the construction of waste management facilities, highways, flood and marine defence and renewable energy projects around the UK.