Army veteran finds peace in an unexpected hobby

An unexpected hobby has brought peace to a war veteran from Leicestershire.

Mark Clyde from Hinckley took up beekeeping eight years ago after he was discharged from the army on medical grounds.

Mark served in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) in 2009.

"We were carrying a friend on a stretcher after he lost his lower leg", recalls Mark, "just before we got him to the Helicopter landing site to get him away the lad behind me carrying the stretcher with us stepped on another IED."

"Sadly he lost his life and the lad on the stretcher lost another leg. I was at the front and it blew me about five metres."

Mark was later discharged due to his injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2012.

Mark served in Afghanistan in 2009. Credit: Mark Clyde

Since he left the military, Mark has found a new way to manage his mental health.

"I don't know if it was an accident or fate really, I'd been injured in Afghanistan and I was going through rehabilitation," says Mark.

"I was in and out of there for two years having several operations and I was involved in little bits of volunteering for Help for Heroes", he says.

It was through his volunteering that Mark met his mentor, who introduced him to the bees.

Mark's 'Bee Man and Brood' honey is a hit with locals. Credit: Mark Clyde

Almost a decade later and he now makes his own honey and removes swarms for people and businesses in the local area for free.

He says when he's working with the hives it's difficult to think about anything else.

Mark uses his knowledge of beekeeping to safely remove swarms from people's homes and businesses.

"Everything's a bit slow, methodical, a bit like mindfulness really", he explains, "I don't want to say that's the cure for everything but I wholeheartedly believe it helped me, it continues to help me and I believe it can help others."

He adds: "Just getting out there, being with the bees, one hour can turn into seven hours and before I know it I have missed calls left right and centre."

"It's just enjoyable you know, the hum of the bees, I get time to myself, time to think, slow things down, slow your breathing down, everything is methodical and then we take it from there."

The dad-of-three has passed his love of bees onto his youngest son, Fred, who helps him with his hobby.

His dad says Fred loved helping him with the bees. Credit: Mark Clyde

"Since coming back injured I fell into the role of stay at home dad," says Mark, "I thought why not pass on one of my loves to him and, hopefully, he can carry it on"

He says it gives his son insight into nature and pollination and reassures him that bees don't want to sting people.

"He seems to love it, I get him involved with making feed in the winter, he likes to spin the honey out with me and obviously he likes to eat the honey!"

Mark says the bees have helped teach his youngest son the importance of nature. Credit: Mark Clyde

Mark says the hobby has helped him to overcome some of his trauma, but in a way the beehives remind him of his life in the army.

"It's like a military environment like from where I'm from. Everyone has a job, everyone has a role and if one of those roles breaks down then the colony suffers" explains Mark.

"It's like that in a military environment, if one of the cogs isn't turning it affects the overall picture of what's happening."

"I see it every day in the hives", he adds.