Centre scheme could become a £10m tonic for the troops
30 June 2011
Posted in News
INJURED servicemen and women could be looked after in a new £10 million rehabilitation centre planned for Swansea.
Treat Trust Wales, which is behind the ambitious proposal at Morriston Hospital, is forging links with the Headley Court defence military rehabilitation centre in Surrey.
Melanie Davies, the main driving force behind the city-based charity, hopes to replicate the service here — making it the only one of its kind in Wales.
She has a very personal reason for wanting to turn that dream into a reality, as it was the military who came to her aid after she had a life-changing accident 30 years ago — and a face from her past is now closely involved with the fledgling partnership.
Treat, spearheaded by Melanie and her husband Mike, is now fundraising to develop the rehabilitation centre for people from all walks of life in the grounds of Morriston Hospital.
Its backers include Michael Sheen, Rob Brydon and Paul Potts.
Melanie broke her back in a motorbike accident when she was a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Port Talbot.
After the accident, which is recounted in her best-selling autobiography Never Say Die, Melanie underwent rehabilitation at RAF Chessington in Surrey.
"While we are at Headley Court we will be hosted by Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Thomas," she said.
"We approached the officer in charge there, Colonel Gerry Tuck, and Gareth heard about it and wanted to host us because his father is from Bridgend.
"Mike had a chat with him over the phone and in passing told him about Never Say Die.
"Gareth read it within 24 hours and said he remembered me. He was a trainee physiotherapist at RAF Chessington while I was there.
"Talk about a small world."
Melanie and Mike, who live near Pontardawe, and other Treat Trust Wales representatives will be making the trip to England next Wednesday and spending the following day at Headley Court.
"When Treat is up and running we would like to take Welsh servicemen and women because there is nothing like it in Wales," said Melanie.
"I've always had that idea at the back of my mind. They looked after me after I had my accident so it will be a chance for me to give something back.
"We want to look at what Headley Court are doing and make sure Treat attains the same standards they have reached.
"Hopefully it will be the start of an ongoing relationship."
Paul Lewis, South Wales Evening Post : Thursday, 30th June 2011
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