Initially a personal project that was born in 2015, Al , who had served as a Royal Marines Commando for many years wanted to look at the experience of the men and women returning home from conflict zones and how they
adjusted and looked at the society they left behind, and also how they were treated once their
service was complete as well as how they interacted with the people around them. He had the idea
of putting an old soldier in a modern day environment and capturing the reactions of the public as
they went walkabout. Al spoke to his best friend Dan who suggested that it had to be a soldier from
the Great War and that it should be done to raise awareness for a veterans charity. Around this
time Jamie Sanderson, Co-Founder of Rock2Recovery, got in touch with Al to talk about a campaign
to raise awareness around PTS injury and R2R’s Old Soldier was born. The team originally planned a
one day shoot, however The Old Soldier resonated with both veterans and serving members of the
forces and it soon became very apparent that he was a character they could all relate to and turn
to . What had only been a short personal project grew into an ongoing project for R2R.
Dan, who will be the first to tell you he is a civilian is also amongst other things the unit historian,because the Old Soldier represents every man and woman that has served in the UK military every detail has to be right as we feel we would be doing all of our serving members and veterans a disservice if it were otherwise, you will often hear Dan say “no , we are not doing that, it is historically inaccurate, it`s got to be right “ . Because of all of the positive feedback we recieved it was suggested by one of the lads that the Old Soldier should be made Regimental Sergeant Major of Rock2Recovery , Jamie , Dan and Al thought this was a great idea, Jamie approached the then serving Corps RSM WO1 Phil Gilby MBE to grant permission to make the Old Soldier an honorary Great War era RSM of the Royal Marines Light Infantry , Phil liked the idea but before giving a thumbs up it had to be run by every other serving WO1 of the Royal Marines , because as always it`s the right thing to do, permission was granted and Old Soldier became Corps approved, something we are incredibly proud of, we bump into a lot of WO1s at events and they all remember the email going around and say what a great job Rock2Recovery are doing and show us their support, please see our Doing What We Do gallery to see a photograph of the Old Soldier with the current Corps RSM WO1 Dave Mason RM and Former Corps RSM Phil Gilby MBE. The Old Soldier has also been used by former Commandant General Royal Marines Major General Andrew "Andy" Salmon, CMG, OBE in his production Journey Through Conflict ,for more information please see our links page. Dan is also a coach and spends a lot of his time on the phone at all hours to veterans and serving members giving them advice and a listening ear and handing them up the line when needed. As a result of all of the above, ranks from Marine to Major General and former members of UKSF call Dan “Royal” , something that he isn`t quite comfortable with but feels it to be an absolute honour , and as Al frequently points out to him “ you are part of the family now , none of this comes for free”. The team’s
involvement has also led directly to Al working with some of R2R’s coaches and helping him to quieten
the ghosts of his past,this is something that Al is very keen to voice as it shows the the work Rock2Recovery do works.
Since September 2015 Old Soldier Media has been deeply involved with every aspect of the work
Rock2Recovery does. The team has provided awareness campaigns, self-financing shoots across the
UK, France & Belgium and providing support for fundraising, talks and events around the UK.
The team brings an important historical context to the modern veterans experience of PTS injury by
looking at the way mental health issues have been dealt with from Shell Shock in WW1, through the
Battle Fatigue diagnoses of WW2 and Korea and ultimately to today and PTS injury as a result of
service in Ulster, The Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The team also assists in triage support for the organisation. The team has directly helped many
veterans, serving men and women as well as the families and friends of those affected by trauma to
get the support they need to change their lives. The Old Soldier is a presence that has created a
sense of security and comfort for people looking for help and he continues to be there for those who
“The Only Thing That Has Changed Is The Uniform.” – The Old Soldier