Sailor John Takes to Water After 37 Years

Nautical charity, the Maritime Volunteer Service has helped a Falklands veteran and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferer to relearn the ropes again in preparation for a once in a lifetime voyage on a tall ship.

John Mew from Dinnington was one of the survivors of the Argentinian attack on HMS Coventry in 1982 during the Falklands War. Following the war, John battled on in the Royal Navy and a subsequent career as a commercial diver without being aware that he was suffering from the condition.

Since diagnosis, John has made it his mission to raise awareness of PTSD and mental health issues and to raise money for local veteran’s charity Forward Assist, SSAFA and the Newcastle Falcons Rugby Foundation. He still experiences occasional flashbacks and can find himself easily agitated and frustrated but he has developed a number of coping mechanisms thanks to professional help and support.

Mental health and well-being coach Polly Brennan contacted the Northumbria Unit of the Maritime Volunteer Service to see if they could help John reconnect with the water as he is about to embark on an English Channel voyage on the tall ship Lord Nelson.

The unit took John out on their rigid inflatable boat “Northumberland Freemason” where he was given the opportunity to see Newcastle from the river and pilot the boat himself.

“I’m very grateful to the MVS for this river trip. It’s the first time I’ve steered a boat since HMS Coventry sank in 1982 and it’s a good confidence boost for going on the tall ship.’

Keith Newman, Deputy Head of Unit at MVS Northumbria was delighted to help John.

“What John went through in the South Atlantic is unimaginable. Now, everyone is aware of PTSD but then it was unheard of. He has battled for all these years and now thankfully he is getting the support he needs. It was very humbling and emotional to listen to John’s story and we wish him well on the tall ship voyage.”