Life-saving retreat for veterans pledges to continue its work despite losing its Cornwall base

  • Watch: ITV News' Graham Lewis reports

A veteran's retreat, which has helped save the lives of four former service personnel so far this year, says its work will go on despite being forced to move out of its base.

Noon Cregg was set up three years ago at Merry Maidens near Penzance, however the land has now changed hands which means they've had to leave.

The retreat was set up in 2019 by Darren Edge, who is known to everyone as 'Badger', and is very passionate about helping people who've served their country.

A veteran himself, he left the army after being injured in the line of duty in Northern Ireland in the early 1990's.

The retreat was started in 2019 by Darren Edge, who is known to everyone as 'Badger'. Credit: ITV West Country

Mr Edge said: "I got PTSD myself and didn't have such a great relationship due to that. So I thought let's put this together, and we can help people with PTSD, to get over it.

"We help people from the Army, Navy and Air Force, but also from the Police, Ambulance Service, NHS nurses, you name it, RNLI, Coastguard, anyone who has seen a service of sorts and has seen traumatic experiences.

"So far, we've saved the lives of four this year alone.”

One of those Badger has helped is Chris Stappleton, who served in Afghanistan.

Chris Stappleton says Noon Cregg saved his live. Credit: ITV West Country

Mr Stappleton said: "I was in a rough patch back six months ago, back in June, and just about to become homeless, not doing very well in my mental health.

"I got in touch with Badger through a friend of his. Within 15 minutes he picked me up, put me in the truck and took me back to Noon Cregg. In my six months with Badger, I'm a different person. I don't know where I'd be without him.

"I probably wouldn't even be alive if it wasn't for Badger and the mental health support he's given me and the structures of life. I wouldn't be here today. I really don't think so."

The retreat is currently moving to a temporary location on some land near Porkellis.

Mr Edge said: "What we want is our own piece of land, which would then be put in trust to Noon Cregg. And it will always be a place for veterans. And we can never be kicked off.

"Nothing's ever sturdy in life unless you own it yourself and you only own it as long as you live. That’s why we want to put it into trust for the Noon Cregg Trust, you know, so veterans will always have a place to stay.

"We are the only veterans retreat in the country, which is free and we're the only ones where you can come and talk to like-minded people. It really takes a veteran to understand a veteran."

Over the past three years, Noon Cregg has built a reputation among charities and community organisations across the south west for its work helping veterans.

Badger's determined to have allotments on the temporary land, giving the veterans a place to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Most importantly he plans to build a fire pit, because he says nothing helps more than a chat around the fire in the evening.