The Woodland Warrior Programme was founded in 2016 by husband and wife team Nick and Louise Goldsmith. Nick is a former Royal Marine Commando and Louise is former a Detective Constable in Avon and Somerset Police.
Nick served in the Royal Marines for 11 years, completing four tours of Afghanistan as a Commando, as well as many sensitive overseas taskings.
Like many veterans and active service personnel suffering with mental health issues Nick had become a ticking time bomb. He was drinking heavily, suffering from black outs and memory loss.
After he was officially diagnosed with PTSD in 2014, Nick spent four years in a military recovery centre, doing everything from acupuncture to hydrotherapy, EMDR and CBT.
Yet it was a patch of overgrown and neglected woodland in the West Country, that he and Louise had bought in 2012, which really made a difference to Nick’s mental health and assisted with his recovery.
After his diagnosis, Nick re trained as a Bushcraft Instructor and ethnobotanist and in 2015 the couple set up Hidden Valley Bushcraft, providing educational and recreational experiences to people of all ages from their woodland base.
The struggle Nick has faced after leaving the armed forces prompted him to provide activities within his own woodland to aid the recovery of injured veterans, service personnel and members of the Emergency Services and so The Woodland Warrior Programme was founded.
In 2019 it became its own stand alone Community Interest Company and is run on a 'not for profit' basis.
Please note: This is a peer-to-peer programme of therapeutic activities and staff are not mental health professionals. If you require professional help, some of these organisations may be better suited.
Our private woodland is based in Pensford, on the outskirts of Bristol and Bath. The camp is totally off grid but we do have access to fresh water and composting toilets. The woodland itself is hidden and cannot be seen from the road, this adds to the unique adventure. The exact location will be sent to you upon confirmation of booking.
“Many of the team had been through similar experiences and I felt they understood and really cared. Above all, I had a great time in an environment which I felt was safe, welcoming and fun. Massive respect keep it up lads (and lasses) ;) “ ⎯ Paratrooper Soldier
"The brotherhood provided by a fellow marine meant my partner could talk about the difficulties he was having adjusting to civilian life. He returns from his visits to the woodland calmer and more upbeat about life"- Partner of Former Royal Marine
"I now have the confidence that an employer will see the benefit of my skills and utilise them fully. Since working with Nick I have now gained full time employment and have sought help from mental health practitioners” - Former Royal Marine.