Faced with a struggling business, a Clitheroe painter and decorator decided to tackle the recession head on, by hanging up his overalls for six months, and joining his soldier son on the front line of Afghanistan’s notorious Helmand Province.
Mark Wadsworth (50) saw trade tail off as the economic downturn set in last year and decided the time was right to explore other career options. Meanwhile, Mark’s son Sam (19) was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with Third Battalion The Parachute Regiment. Mark decided to join him.
Mark explained: “Despite having an army background, deploying again was going to be a massive challenge.
“I first joined up as a young man in 1978, and at 50, I was facing the same fitness tests as the 18 year olds I would be working alongside. I am a member of the territorial army reserve force and so had a good idea what I was letting myself in for.”
Mark continued: “During September last year, early morning dog walkers around the River Ribble, from West Bradford bridge to Grindleton and beyond, were probably curious about the man chasing his dog with a large green back pack on his back and a red face! It was all good preparation.”
Mark and Sam have been serving very different roles in Helmand Province. While Mark, a Royal Engineer, served as a watchkeeper at the headquarters of Task Force Helmand in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, Sam, a paratrooper, was located in the Nad-e Ali area, serving as a rifleman.
Sam commented: “I joined the army when I was 16 and am now able to put into practice the things I have been trained to do. I feel we are making a real difference in Afghanistan. The Taliban are basically ignoring what the normal Afghans want and trying to get their way through terrorism and intimidation – but we are making that more and more difficult for them.”
Mark in turn, was reassured he still had something to offer after 30 years of being a soldier: “I think this could be my swan song. My career as a soldier is coming to an end, so I’ll be delighted to let Sam carry on the family tradition.
“I’m glad to be back with my family, with the varied weather, green fields and trees of the Ribble Valley, and walking my dog on Pendle Hill. It’s back to work as usual and I’ll be taking bookings straight away. Has the recession passed for my trade during my time away? Only time and the bank manager will tell!”