David Bellamy has led a full and fascinating life and since he "retired" from Lloyd’s Insurance market, where he was a director and board member of the Marine Company, some two years ago, he has dedicated his time to helping people.
David, whose father was a cotton trader, was born in Egypt but soon ended up in Rhodesia from where he was dispatched to school in Surrey.
But as the rebel he admits he was and still is, aged 17 he bought himself a ticket to sail back to Rhodesia.
"I couldn’t take living in the UK, the weather. So I decided to head back to what was home. However, on arrival I had no money and no idea what to do with myself. So I went down to the local recruiting office where a man in a pith helmet, armed with a sword and white uniform enrolled me into the British South Africa Police. That was 1969 and over the following three years I went on to serve as a patrol officer with the paramilitary unit in the Rhodesian War and was seconded into the armed services and fought in the Bush War which was a very dangerous counter terrorism campaign.
"In 1971, I decided to move on and contracted myself out to the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces, Muscat, Oman as company commander in the rank of captain engaged in anti-terrorist operations in the Dhofar War. That was where I came into very close contact with the SAS. They used to regularly rotate units in and out of Oman and I made some very close friends, apart from witnessing some dreadful atrocities.
In 1974 he decided on a complete change of direction and headed to the States where he qualified as a commercial diver, actively involved in offshore oil field development and underwater engineering and was employed by Oceaneering International, Houston, Texas and by Comex SA, Marseille, France.
"The trouble was I had ideas of diving in luxurious beautiful locations - I ended up spending the next nine years working off rigs in the North Sea but again I was to witness further incidents of stress and trauma as we worked in extremely demanding and dangerous conditions."
Eventually, armed with a host of important global contacts in the diving and marine industry, he secured a job with Lloyd’s Insurance which was to become the foundation stone of the rest of his career.
"It was through a friend who had been in the SAS. I gave him a call to see if he could help and he offered me a desk and a phone at Lloyds. I knew nothing about insurance whatsoever but started calling my marine contacts and things took off and that job led me into all kinds of other related business ventures across the Middle East, in particular Jaipur, where I still own a home." His experience also led to him becoming a fully independent risk consultant.
Then, following his so-called retirement, David decided to embark on a new and equally challenging career. He trained to qualify as a master practitioner in clinical hypnotherapy, specialising in the treatment of trauma, specifically military trauma, PTSD and associated conditions of depression, chronic addiction, family crisis and other related psychological difficulties.
David works closely with serving and ex-serving members of the UK Armed Forces and is the cofounder and therapist of the treatment service ICARUS ONLINE for Veterans. He is also qualified in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and specialises in the treatment of auto-immune diseases such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia and Crohn’s Disease and in the treatment of cancer and that is what he is now doing with Dr Mario Scheib at the Clinica Luz in Palma.
However, because of his long military career and involvement in theatres of war and counter terrorism, he is passionate about helping military veterans and, with the help of small group of senior officers including General Peter Currie, ex-Chairman of Help for Heroes, General Andrew Graham, current chairman of Help for Heroes, and General John McColl who is currently the Chairman of COBSEO, the overall organisation for all the military charities, Colonel David Richmond and his Contact Working Group, he has recently become involved in the team responsible specifically for mental health, and it’s this group that Prince Harry is involved with as participant and benefactor.
"The big problem in the UK is that there is no regulation of military charities and no proper cooperation between them. There are 350 military charities in the UK and 75 of them are supposed to be dealing with mental health, but many fail to live up to their billing and this just only serves to cause further problems for ex-servicemen and women looking for help.
"There are CEOs of some of these charities walking away with huge pay packets. Well, there is nothing wrong with that providing they deliver, but many don’t. For example, we have seen cases of an ex-serviceman living in Aberdeen, say, needing treatment for combat stress who contacts the local branch of the charity he is registered with only to find they don’t have anyone available. But just down the road in Edinburgh, another military charity, which he may not be a member of, may have three mental health specialists who could help. But as I said, there is no cooperation so he does not get the referral he so desperately needs. And that breakdown in the system only makes the serviceman’s situation even worse.
"As long as military personnel remain in uniform, the system works, but once they are given their military discharge - and that could be as quick as six months - they are abandoned. They may have to go home to a broken marriage, an empty house, if they have one, no job and enter a totally new environment in which nobody really understands what they are going through. The vast majority of people sleeping on the streets of Manchester, for example, are former service personnel. This is disgraceful and people say there is no money. I’m sorry, but there is, we know there is, there are millions available but it is being mismanaged.
"Combat stress, like any mental health issue in the civil sector, is extremely dangerous and needs specialist treatment. Even the big city companies are now seriously looking at how to address the problem of mental health amongst their staff. It’s extremely common and needs to be properly dealt with.
"But with it goes a stigma. Servicemen and women are extremely proud people. They are highly trained and self-motivated, quite often all they need is a leg up. Set them a task and they will do it the very best of their capabilities. Turn your backs on them and they spiral out of control, falling into crime, drugs, alcohol and, in many cases, eventual suicide.
"These people don’t need platitudes from an aging volunteer at the end of a telephone who, to be honest, has no idea what they are talking about, and they certainly don’t want to see people in white coats, this does nothing to help their state of mind. Princes William and Harry have done and are doing a great job in bringing the issue of mental health out into the public domain and, obviously, having Harry on board our new charity is a great boost for all of us and the troops we are helping. In short, our aim is to try and bring some organisation, some control and coordination and get all of these military charities working together as one.
"The first step has been creating a single hotline called the Veteran Gateway. If you like, we are a one-stop shop for all ex-military personnel who need to be treated for mental health issues which, more often than not, is combat stress. Sadly, many other problems spiral from this, so it is a very complex and delicate condition to treat and overcome. But, all those involved in ICARUS are confident that we can help to restore equilibrium and peace to damaged hearts and minds."
For further information go to https://www.davidbellamy.org.
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