Friday, 4 July 2014

Clean-up crew soldier suffers PTSD 25 years after Lockerbie

An article headlined Former soldier admits he's still coming to terms with Lockerbie bombing horror scene has been published this morning on the Daily Record website.  It reads in part:]

For former soldier Bob Taylor, the Lockerbie bombing was something he thought he’d dealt with 25 years ago.

But as media coverage mounted about the quarter-century anniversary, Bob found the memories of his time as part of the clean-up crew too difficult to cope with.

The 52-year-old, who lives in Catterick, North Yorkshire, but grew up in Kilmarnock, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and had to be signed off sick from his job. He had been Pertemps manager for Northallerton, Harrogate and Skipton.

He is now coming to terms with his condition through the support of the Help for Heroes Phoenix House Recovery Centre, also in Catterick.

“As part of the clean-up crew I had to walk the area and identify evidence. If it was clothing, we had to bag it. If it was a body part, we called the police over and they would deal with it,” Bob said.

At the time of the bombing, on December 21, 1988, Bob, who has been married to Daniella for 32 years and has two children, was stationed in Inverness with the Gordon Highlanders.

“The Royal Highland Fusiliers were deployed first but, on Christmas Eve, I was packing the car to go home on leave to Glasgow with my wife and children when we were told to attend a briefing on Christmas Day to go to Lockerbie. We were deployed on Boxing Day,” Bob said.

After two days as clean-up crew, Bob , who has served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Kenya, Portugal, Canada and America, was moved into the communication centre, where he had to maintain contact with crews on the ground, the civilian team and mark finds on a map of the area.

He said: “At the time we were angry to be missing Christmas and angry someone had decided to do that because it affected those on the aircraft, the town of Lockerbie and the wider community.

“I didn’t think much about what we were doing. It was just a job but then, 25 years later, when I was watching the anniversary coverage, it triggered something off.”

Bob made contact with the charity Vulnerable Veterans and Adult Dependants (VVADS), a bespoke Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service based at Catterick Garrison and he began eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) – a relatively new treatment that has been found to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

The charity also put him in touch with Help for Heroes and Phoenix House.

He said: “The PTSD has really surprised me. I just thought I was a bit depressed but when the anniversary coverage started in the media, it just came flooding back and I was quite floored with it all.

“When I was serving I had the support of the guys in my battalion, but when you leave you lose all that.”

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