Veteran with PTSD given free membership at Banbury gym
A former infantry soldier is one of the first in the UK to take advantage of an offer of free membership for veterans with PTSD at a Banbury gym.
Duncan Bannatyne gave his backing to the Sunday People’s Save Our Soldiers campaign and offered hundreds of free memberships for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, with every one of his 72 health clubs taking part.
Jay Sullivan applied to the Bannatyne Health Club and Spa on Oxford Road and was delighted to be offered the opportunity to become a member for free.
The 51-year-old had been determined to join the Army from the age of 11 - initially he joined the Royal Corp of Transport but failing his driving test five times led to him joining the infantry.
He served in Northern Ireland but left the army in 1988 after events that are still too painful for him to talk and in 2014 he received his first PTSD diagnosis.
Jay said: “I have received support from a number of organisations including Veterans UK, Aspire, The Veterans Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison (TIL) Service, PTSD Resolution and Combat Stress.
“One of the biggest things for me though is the gym so to have this membership is priceless.
"Duncan Bannatyne, I thank you and really wish I could shake your hand and thank you in person.”
Mr Bannatyne's father William endured three-and-a-half years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Second World War and was starving to death before liberation in 1945.
William, an infantryman in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, had been captured while fighting Japan’s invasion of Malaya and Singapore in 1942.
The former Dragon on Dragon's Den told the Sunday People: “I truly believe our armed forces are the best in the world. I think they do an amazing job and the bravery that comes with doing the job they do is outstanding.
“If I can help in a small way such as giving a free membership to help combat PTSD, then I am more than happy to do that. It is something that is very dear to me.”