How an apprenticeship gave this Wakefield army veteran new hope and a new life

Tom Hall with Coun  Michael Graham, WDC Cabinet Member.''Picture: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com
Tom Hall with Coun Michael Graham, WDC Cabinet Member.''Picture: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com

An apprenticeship has given a former Wakefield paratrooper a new future, after he recovered from a traumatic head injury.

Twenty-nine-year-old Tom Hall was crowned Apprentice of the Year at this year’s Wakefield Excellence in Business Awards, after overcoming his injury to embark on an apprenticeship with energy and services specialist ENGIE, in partnership with Wakefield Council.

Former Paratrooper Tom, from Ossett, spent nine years in the military, undertaking three tours of duty in Afghanistan before suffering a serious brain injury in August 2015, while on exercise in the UK.

After spending a year in hospital, and another in an Army rehabilitation centre, Tom returned home to Wakefield.

He was supported back into civilian life by local charity Second Chance Headway Centre, before securing the position of multi-skilled apprentice with ENGIE in November 2018.

Tom said: “I applied for a few jobs, but this apprenticeship was most attractive to me as it offers the chance to earn a living, while also gaining a qualification and learning skills for life – it’s not just a job, but an investment in my future.

“I liked the idea of the multi-skilled option as it gives me the opportunity to try different trades and the work is varied – from decorating and joinery to groundworks and block paving. I’m really enjoying it and I’d encourage anyone to take up an apprenticeship. I hope to secure a permanent position with ENGIE when I complete my qualification.

“This apprenticeship also helped in my recovery. My short-term memory has significantly improved, and I’ve become much more confident. My vision improved, which has enabled me to regain my driving licence and drive company vans.”

Richard Carmichael, partnership director at ENGIE, said: “Tom is such an asset to ENGIE and the Wakefield partnership - his story is truly inspirational, and he is a great role model for others who may have similar barriers to overcome.

“He brought with him many transferable skills from his time in the Armed Forces, such as the ability to motivate and inspire his colleagues, and his positivity and energy are infectious.”

Tom returns to Second Chance every 12 weeks to support other brain injury survivors attending the ‘Head Towards Work’ Programme.