Five years ago, Dan Hallett was forced to quit the Army after a posting to Iraq left him traumatised and disillusioned with life on the frontline. Last night the former soldier was hailed as a champion for Britain’s lost generation.
The 26-year-old, from Goole, was named winner of the Yorkshire Post Flying Start Award at the Prince’s Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards in recognition of his efforts to turn his life around.
Once discharged from the Army, Mr Hallett took a series of low paid jobs, but after gaining sole custody of his two young children he joined the trust’s enterprise programme, which was set up to help young people set up their own businesses, in the hope of providing his family with a more secure future.
Eighteen months ago he launched Gardeners-R-Us and having recently taken on his own apprentice, the landscaping and gardening business is flourishing.
He said: “A few years ago, life was looking pretty bleak, so it is just fantastic to win this award.
“When I was growing up, the only thing I wanted to do was join the Army. I signed up with my eyes open and I knew I was going to find myself in some pretty awful situations, but nothing prepared me for what it was like in Iraq.
“The soldiers were working 100 hours a week and when I came back home I was mentally and physically exhausted.
“For a while I wasn’t sure where my life would end up, but contacting the Prince’s Trust was a real turning point. The people I met there made me believe in myself again and gave me the confidence to start my own business.
“It really does feel like I have been given a second chance and I am determined not to waste any opportunity which comes my way.”
At the ceremony, which took place at Aspire in Leeds, Farren Medlock, 17, from Rotherham and 20-year-old Lauren Wilson, from Wakefield were named runners-up.