Sarah Groves with The Poppy Factory Centenary logo

Centenary stories: Sarah Groves

Many hundreds of veterans have been supported into employment over the course of our 100 years, first through our factory in Richmond-upon-Thames and more recently in communities throughout England and Wales. They include Sarah Groves, who faced a difficult journey back to employment after her successful career in the Army. With help, she was able to build confidence and find a new way forward.

Rapid advance

Active service came quickly for Sarah Groves. After joining Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps in 2005, she was sent first to Germany and then to Iraq, serving alongside tens of thousands of British troops in one of the largest deployments since the Second World War.

Sarah’s career progress was equally rapid. Still in her mid-20s, she went to back into military training at Sandhurst in 2009, graduating as a Captain and going on to work as an Infection Control Nursing Officer.

Then came the birth of her son two years later, and changes in circumstances led to difficulties in the busy years ahead.

Sarah said: “I had my son in 2011 and when we moved home, I lost my support network.

“I left the Army three years later. Although I didn’t work while I was bringing up my son, I was busy volunteering and serving as the leader of a Scout Beaver Scouts group, which felt like good preparation.

I was a single parent and there were quite a few difficult things going on in my life, but I was determined to get back to work.”

Sarah Groves

Rebuilding confidence

Returning to work was not something that Sarah could consider for some years. First, she needed to re-establish the support network she had lost. Eventually she found help through The Poppy Factory and met our Employment Consultant, Rebecca Thorn.

 “When I met Becks in 2017, she’d just joined The Poppy Factory’s employment team,” said Sarah. “Becks has always been so supportive. If I wasn’t quite ready, she would take a step back and give me the space I needed.

“Although I was interested in getting back into nursing, I was open to other ideas and Becks helped me find a role with British Forces Resettlement Services as a Military Engagement Officer. I work as a kind of intermediary between the Armed Forces community, including veterans and their families, and forces-friendly employers and support agencies. There is so much support out there for veterans, but not everyone knows where to find it.”

Sarah Groves with Becks Thorn

Moving on

With renewed confidence from her employment, Sarah was then able to move into a new role as a Disability Assessor, completing a circle as she is now helping others who are going through experiences similar to her own.

Sarah feels positive her experience of being supported by The Poppy Factory, and was happy to contribute personal objects from her Army nursing career for display in our visitor centre in Richmond-upon-Thames.

Sarah said: “It’s been a long journey and I’ve learned a lot from my experiences. I now feel very positive for the future and excited about life.”

Items from Sarah Groves' Army nursing career

Supporting Sarah

Employment Consultant Rebecca Thorn was by Sarah’s side throughout her journey to employment, giving her support and working with her to make steady steps forward.

Becks said: “When I first met Sarah, she was really far away from the jobs market. It was a bit of a rollercoaster but we finally got where she needed to be. The way she’s been able to regain her confidence is inspirational. I’m just incredibly proud of her, and humbled to have been a part of her journey. She did it all herself, she just needed someone to be there.”

Sarah Groves with Becks Thorn

The Poppy Factory centenary logo

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