28 May 2024

Bournemouth staff member to walk 270 kilometres across France to mark historic D-Day landing anniversary

News@2X (2)

On the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Jay Campbell from Bournemouth is walking 270 kilometres from Cherbourg to Pegasus Bridge to raise funds for WithYou.

The challenge, which will take around six days and will begin on 2 June 2024, will see Jay walk through key Operation Overlord landmarks, including Utah, Omaha and Juno landing beaches. Jay will complete the walk unaided, carrying all of his walking and camping equipment in a backpack. 

As well as stopping at a number of the memorials along the way in tribute to those who lost their lives during the Second World War, Jay is completing the challenge in honour of his family’s military history. Jay says:

“I was raised in a military family. One of my grandads was in the RAF and my great-uncle, who was also in the RAF, lost his life during World War Two. My other grandad was in the Army and my dad was in the Royal Navy - they both struggled with their mental health after leaving the forces, ended up homeless, and lost their lives too soon following challenges with drugs and alcohol. 

“My dad’s drug, alcohol and mental health challenges profoundly impacted our whole family, but they were especially difficult for my mum. There was a lot of loss and grief for her, and because we moved around a lot with my dad’s job, she didn’t have a real support network. This led to her own challenges with drugs and alcohol, and I also started drinking alcohol at a dangerous level as a teenager.

“But in many ways, I was really lucky. I ended up inside the criminal justice system at the age of 16, and I was given a lot of support to address my traumas. Because of this, I was able to turn my life around, but sadly, my grandad, dad and mum didn’t get this same chance.

“As well as paying tribute to those who fought and died during the D-day landings, for me, completing this challenge is my way of remembering my dad, mum and grandad, and raising awareness of the support services that saved me and that could have saved them too.”

Jay has been working as a Recovery Worker for WithYou in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s Drug and Alcohol Homeless Outreach Team for the last year. He says:

“I’ve spent a lot of my career working with serving personnel and veterans, and I hear all too often that they feel shame, embarrassment and guilt at accessing support services. At WithYou, we want to break down these barriers so that members of the armed forces community can access the drug and alcohol support that they need. We want to spread the message that there is no reason to be ashamed.”

Jay Campbell from Bournemouth

Data released by WithYou shows that between April 2022 and March 2024, the number of veterans supported across their services increased by 18%. 

Commenting on the importance of supporting members of the armed forces community, Andy Craze, National Armed Forces Programme Lead at WithYou, said: 

“For lots of veterans and their families, life after the military can be a challenging time. Some start using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with this transition, while others use them as a way to ‘process’ the traumas that they’ve experienced while serving. 

“However, we know that for members of the armed forces community, accessing support can be extremely difficult. That’s why we’ve developed a dedicated programme at WithYou which provides specialist support for veterans and their families, helping people to lead a fulfilling life not hindered by dependence.

“We do this by acknowledging the specific experiences of people in the Armed Forces community, capitalising on the strengths of military identity and using this to enhance recovery. Veterans have given their lives to their country, and we are proud to play a small part in improving access to the support that they and their families deserve.“


Follow WithYou on social media

Follow us on social media to keep up with the latest news and helpful insights to support you.