We had a very special visitor this week. Andrew Hieghton-Jackson served with the Black Watch, and, whilst on operations in Afghanistan, came into perilously close contact with an IED. He was ‘medically retired’, which sounds like a rather innocuous phrase but can feel like running into a brick wall for those who have devoted themselves to the services.
Andy always said that the adjustment to civilian life and the search for a new start were tough for him, as they are for so many veterans. Luckily for us, he came to work at HorseBack. This was in the very early days, when half the buildings still didn’t have a roof. We were running on raw belief and doughty determination.
Andy specialised in leadership, and his talks on the subject were full of fascinating nuance, universal truths and a profound thoughtfulness. As he had in the army, he led always by example, and, despite his injuries, his energy and cheerfulness never flagged. His blazing smile shone out through the dourest Scottish weather. He was a real lynchpin of the operation as we found our feet and forged ahead to make HorseBack everything we dreamed it would be.
‘It’s changed a bit,’ he said, dry as a bone, as he looked around the new facilities, met the new team members, said hello to the new additions to the HorseBack herd.
Now, Andy and his beautiful wife Kirsty are going to start a new life in Nova Scotia. He came to make his farewells. It was bittersweet for us: great pleasure to see him and remember old times, combined with the knowledge that we shall miss him as he goes across the ocean. We are so thrilled that his life now contains such happiness and such bright hopes for the future. Nobody deserves it more.