City Building offers helping hand to ex-paratrooper who fell to earth
Published by Anne Marie Hughes on Sat 09 Jun 12 @ 22:14
City Building’s Kevin Lee measures up for his new career as a joiner. Kevin originally joined the company as an apprentice in 1996 before his military career and subsequent return to City Building in 2011.
During his military service with the Parachute Regiment Kevin Lee was a fearless soldier who fought in Afghanistan with a busted shoulder that required three operations to repair.
But like many ex-servicemen, finding work after his distinguished eight-year career proved an equally tough challenge, when Kevin Lee returned to Glasgow in 2010. Luckily, the 32-year-old has been able to rebuild his life, thanks to his former manager at City Building, Gavin Hay.
Before his army days Kevin, from Dennistoun, completed a six-year apprenticeship as a joiner for City Building back in 1996-2002 under the tutelage of Gavin Hay, who remembered him as a hard worker who was also very 'streetwise.'
It was local charity Glasgow's Helping Heroes that put Kevin Lee back in touch with City Building in 2010. The company was only too delighted to offer Kevin a six-month trial and the chance to resurrect his civilian career.
City Building, Glasgow's City Council's arm's-length construction company, has a proud record of employing former servicemen at its supported facility at RSBi and works closely with the Glasgow's Helping Heroes charity.
Kevin Lee broke his left shoulder while on a training exercise in Oman in 2007, when he fell down a cliff face in temperatures of 60ºC, carrying kit weighing 130lbs.
At the time the Parachute Regiment he was serving with had been seconded to support the SAS. Kevin was taken to a local hospital before being flown back to the UK to have the first of three operations at Selly Oak in 2006.
Unfortunately the operations were not a success and the shoulder continually slipped back out of its socket, sometimes in his sleep - chipping the bone in the process. Luckily, a third and final operation in 2010 in Glasgow worked, enabling Kevin to complete his rehabilitation.
Kevin Lee said: "I am very grateful for the support I have received from City Building and Glasgow's Helping Heroes, who have put me back on my feet. Finishing a military career and then returning to normal life is a challenge and my future is now a bright one.
"Gavin Hay was my manager when I was an apprentice joiner for City Building, so it is nice he remembered me and was happy to take me on again. So far my shoulder has stood up to the task of finishing off walls at Ruchill Primary School. The army matured me and gave me a real appreciation of life, but things are going well now."
John Foley, City Building managing director, said: "We are delighted to have Kevin Lee back working for us again as a joiner. He has gone full circle as he started out as an apprentice with us back in 1996 before he embarked on his distinguished military career.
"At City Building we pride ourselves on providing more than just a job for our employees and have the strongest social ethos of any construction company in the UK. We work closely with charities including Glasgow's Helping Heroes to support our brave soldiers find their feet again in civilian life."
Barry Henderson MBE, project manager at Glasgow's Helping Heroes (GHH) charity, said: "Kevin Lee is one of many who have served their country with honour and deserve help to adjust back to civilian life. Kevin broke his shoulder in training yet still went and fought for his country in Afghanistan, despite the fact it would eventually take a total of three operations to fix his shoulder properly.
"After his army career we were able to help him access permanent housing via Glasgow Housing Association. Through GHH's close connection to City Building, he was re-employed by them and we are delighted to see him on the path to a career and a bright future. Along with SSAFA Forces Help, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association and our partners we aim to put our soldiers back on their feet again."
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "I'm delighted that Kevin is finding success in Glasgow after his service in the Paras. His story is a testament to the excellent work being done in the city to help veterans through initiatives like Glasgow's Helping Heroes, a one-stop-shop for veterans, serving personnel and their families or carers that co-ordinates access to a range of services.
"The council and its partners are committed to serving ex-military personnel and their families by truly understanding their needs and making sure they are not disadvantaged in any way while living and working in Glasgow."