A small group of wounded, injured and sick serving personnel and veterans have just enrolled at the University to study on undergraduate degree courses in archaeology.
This new initiative aims to help these former service personnel develop new skills as they recover from injuries and illnesses and transition from the military into civilian careers. It builds on the success of a Ministry of Defence initiative developed by the archaeological team in the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Defence Archaeology Group. It utilises archaeological fieldwork to aid the recovery and skills development of service personnel and veterans injured in conflict.
The Heritage for Heroes concept arose out of discussions between Giles Woodhouse, a former professional archaeologist and senior army officer, who is Head of Recovery South at the charity's Tedworth House Recovery Centre in Wiltshire, and Dr Paul Everill, Programme Leader for undergraduate archaeology at Winchester.
Giles Woodhouse said: "Leaving the military can be daunting, especially for those who are living with life-changing injuries and illnesses. Working towards a new goal in life through career recovery can be extremely beneficial to an individual's overall wellbeing, often accelerating their personal recovery journey. I'm extremely pleased for these men and would like to thank the University of Winchester for supporting them."
Dr Everill added: "Many of us who work in archaeology have come across former service personnel who, perhaps inspired by regiment or unit histories, have a profound interest in the past.
"In our discipline, this is combined with an outdoor working environment, often in difficult conditions, which generates camaraderie, team spirit and banter of the kind that is instantly recognisable to those from the military. We are delighted to be able to welcome new students through our partnership with Help for Heroes and to be able to open up higher education to those who might never have previously considered it."
The initiative is particularly appropriate given the strong historic links between the City of Winchester and the military, including a role as the historic base for a number of infantry regiments and the location of a major First World War mobilisation camp. The Sir John Moores Barracks is also based just outside Winchester at Worthy Down.
"We are thrilled to be involved in the Heritage for Heroes initiative, which demonstrates the University's on-going commitment to helping military personnel, veterans and families," commented Colette Cherry, Assistant Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester.
"This is just one of a number of ways that we offer support. Earlier this year, we signed the Armed Forces Covenant and we are a member of the Universities in Support of Wounded, Injured and Sick Service Personnel (UNSWIS) network. We also work proactively to raise aspirations and support the progression of military service children into further and higher education."