Yvette served in the Army for 10 years, seeing active duty in the First Gulf War and Bosnia, where she drove heavy military vehicles for the Royal Logistics Corps. But at the age of 29, her Army career was cut short when she suffered a stroke during a training run. Two decades later, with help from The Poppy Factory, she is now gearing up to start a new job as a Plymouth bus driver.
“I struggled with transitioning into the civilian life. I bounced in and out of a couple of shop jobs and I was going nowhere. I wasn’t using any of the skills that I’d learned in the military, particularly driving which I’d done a lot in the Forces.
“It pretty much went like that until I got pregnant with my daughter, Jasmine, when I rapidly went out of action. She was born two months premature, primarily due to my health post-stroke. A year later she got meningitis and became profoundly deaf. Looking after her became my full-time job.”
(Photo: Yvette with her daughter.)
Yvette eventually sought help from The Poppy Factory. She was put in touch with employability consultant Farrah, who supports veterans across the South West of England.
“Farrah’s like my guardian angel. She’s always been there for me, emotionally and practically. My daughter is now a young adult and has gained her independence so my caring duties have come to a natural end.
“Emotionally, it has been really difficult. I’m 51 now and I feel like I’m on the scrapheap, but I’ve still got ambition. You have to apply for most roles online and you often have to pass the online screening first before you can speak to someone face to face.
“I wanted to pursue bus driving as it feels like going back to my roots and my grandfather actually worked at the same depot. I love dealing with people and I really enjoy driving.”
As well as supporting with the job application and interview training, Farrah helped Yvette apply for funding from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity to pay for a specialist steering aid that will ensure she can drive buses safely.
“I’m apprehensive and excited about this opportunity but I am looking forward to the challenge. I’m optimistic this is a job to take me through to my retirement.”