Fraser Bowe at Internet Surveys in Norwich

RAF veteran Fraser charts a new course

Dan Hodges Case Studies, General

Fraser, 53, served in the Royal Air Force for 10 years as an Avionics Engineer. He was six weeks away from realising his dream of becoming a Navigator when he was injured in training, then broke his neck in a road accident. Fraser was medically discharged and enjoyed a varied civilian career. After going through redundancy in his 50s, The Poppy Factory helped him move back into work in a role that better suits his work-life balance, working as a Property Valuer at Norwich-based Internet Surveys.

Fraser Bowe at Internet Surveys in Norwich

Fraser said:I always wanted to be a pilot. I joined the RAF when I was 17 as a radar technician and after seven and a half years of trying, my application for a commission was accepted. I got through selection at the first attempt. I was on course to become a navigator and hoped to fly in a Tornado fighter jet.

“I was six weeks away from graduating when I started getting shin splints. One day when we were running up a hill, my hip gave way and I ended up with a telegraph pole on top of me.

“I had surgery on my leg but shortly afterwards my wife and I were involved in a road accident. We both walked away but I had a lot of pain. At first the doctors thought I had whiplash, but an X-ray showed I had been walking round for six weeks with a broken neck.

“I tried to get back to fitness. Eventually, after 18 months, the RAF gave me a medical discharge. I was told I would never drive or work again and I was determined to prove them wrong.

“I got a job quickly at the Department of Work and Pensions. When we moved to Norfolk I worked for the police, then at a hospital, then for 16 years with Norfolk Youth Offending Team where I set up all their IT systems.

“I started having more problems with my neck and lower back and after a long time considering it, I decided to get a wheelchair. Then I moved into the private sector.

When I was made redundant in December 2018 I thought I would find another job easily enough, but I wasn’t getting any offers. I was starting to think I’d never work again. Then I contacted The Poppy Factory. Keiron, my adviser, found something that he thought was right up my street.

“I’d been looking at jobs that were similar to ones I’d had in the past. But a lot of the physical flare-ups I’d been having were linked to stress and Keiron helped me realise that I needed to take a more back-seat approach.

Fraser meeting his boss Philip at Norwich-based Internet Surveys

“I got the job – I’m now a Property Valuer at Internet Surveys Limited, gathering data to put together a picture of a house for insurers.

“The job is perfect for me now. It’s a really good environment and it’s an easy 20 minute drive from my home. I’m enjoying the work, they’re pleased with my progress and I’m starting to take on more complex cases. If I hadn’t contacted The Poppy Factory, I would never have had this opportunity.”

Fraset at work with colleague Michelle
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