Royal Anglian Regiment veteran turned community hero sets up mobile coffee company in Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 15:29 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:14 08 March 2019
A former soldier, prison officer and fireman has launched a new company aiming to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress to train as baristas.
Nigel Seaman, 45 from Ipswich was inspired to start his own business after receiving support and training from charities Combat Stress and Help for Heroes.
Mr Seaman first experienced post-traumatic stress after a traumatic incident in Northern Ireland, while serving for the Royal Anglian Regiment.
The condition continued to affect him long after leaving the army in 2004 after 12 years’ service, leading to a gambling addiction and anger management issues.
Mr Seaman sought help after a shoulder replacement in 2014 which saw him medically retired from work as a prison officer and retained fireman, and the death of his father.
“I went from being the busiest man in the world to doing nothing,” Mr Seaman said. “It really starts to have an effect on your mental health.
“I sought private counselling for gambling and bereavement, who referred me to Combat Stress, which I reluctantly accepted.
“It turned out to be the best decision I ever made. They saved my life.”
The charity, which offers support to former armed forces members, put Mr Seaman on a two-week anger management programme and a six-week stress course.
It was at a Band of Brothers coffee morning organised by Help for Heroes when Mr Seaman found his calling in the coffee trade.
“After speaking to people, Help for Heroes put me through a business course,” Mr Seaman explained. “It was then that I met my new supplier and friend Neil, who makes our unique coffee ‘recovery blend’.
“Throughout, my vision has continued to grow. I just want to help as many people as I can - even if that was only one person and their family - this was never meant to be some sort of Dragon’s Den venture but hopefully it can become my full time job.
“When you leave the forces, you lose your identity and we want to help give people their identities back.”
School friend and supporter Andrea Jelley, 43, said: “There’s a lot of love out there and all Nigel wants to do is help people experiencing the things he’s lived through.
“I’m looking at changing careers and studying counselling, so this is the perfect business venture for the both of us.”
Two weeks after purchasing their caravan, Combat2Coffee already has events lined up across the east of England, with 50p from each sale going to Combat Stress.
The caravan, which has been awarded a five star hygiene rating, opens its doors for the first time on Saturday, March 16 before Ipswich Town’s clash against Nottingham Forest.
More information can be found on their website.