1360. Tony Wright
Tony Wright, from North Tyneside, is a former Royal Marine and the founder of ‘Forward Assist’ which has helped thousands of veterans across the North East with mental health support and skills programmes.
Tony joined the Royal Marines in 1978 and was medically discharged three years later after seriously injuring his shoulder during basic training. Following this, he faced a period of homelessness and unemployment before returning to the education system and gaining qualifications as a social worker. His experiences inspired him to support other veterans in adjusting to civilian life, particularly those with PTSD. He set up ‘Forward Assist’ with the mission of engaging veterans in community projects that make use of their transferable skills, providing them with new employment and education opportunities that also serve to reduce social isolation and promote physical and mental wellbeing. Programmes include a training partnership using a decommissioned military Land Rover from the Falklands as a mobile coffee truck. Tony has also been dedicated to campaigning for gender specific mental health interventions to support women veterans, receiving a grant of over £180,000 from the Government’s Tampon Tax Fund in 2017 to identify the nature of social disadvantage facing women veterans during the transition from military service to civilian life.
In a personal letter to Tony, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“We know that many veterans struggle with the transition to civilian life and so work like yours, which gives meaning and purpose, is so incredibly vital. Our Armed Forces are the pride of our nation and we must all do whatever we can to support those who have selflessly served.”
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed and Secretary of State for International Development, who recommended Tony for his award, said:
“I have worked with Tony and seen for myself the wonderful impact he and Forward Assist has in our community. He is a worthy Point of Light and it is fantastic he has been honoured in this way.”
“I am delighted to have been nominated for the Prime Ministers Points Of Light Award. In these uncertain times it is always important to remember that military veterans are the civilian society’s greatest untapped asset and like everyone else it is an honour to be of service to others through the groundbreaking work of ‘Forward Assist’.”