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Andy Shaw

Founder, Head of Delivery and Chief Mentor

Andy attended 6 different schools – which included boarding at Smallwood Manor prep school (Staffordshire) and Bandon Grammar school (County Cork, Eire) – in England, Ireland, and finally Scotland, before going to sea at the age of 16 with Blue Star Port Lines Ltd as a navigating apprentice in 1970. He completed 3 circumnavigations before transferring into the deep-sea fishing industry based on the port of Hull. After 3 years fishing in the Arctic Andy returned to the merchant navy before joining the Royal Marines in 1976.

On completion of 6 month’s commando training in 98 Troop, in the spring of 1977, Andy served in 45 Commando Royal Marines as a marine. During this period he was deployed to the Arctic, Alps, Denmark and operational tours in Northern Ireland. In 1980 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and underwent 1 year of officer training in YO May 80 batch. On completion of training he returned to 45 Commando Royal Marines and lead his troop in Northern Ireland, the Far East (Brunei) and the Falkland Islands Conflict.

Subsequently Andy was responsible for guarding Britain’s nuclear assets, training recruits, NCOS’s and Officers, and saw further operational deployments in command of Royal Marines in both 40 and 42 Commandos.

In 1996, having suffered a divorce and growing mental problems that were both inexplicable and frightening, Andy decided to take early retirement to try to overcome the massive limitations he was now suffering from. Andy did not consider reporting sick as having reached the rank of Major shame and guilt prevented him from doing so. The term PTSD was unheard of by him. He sought solitude at sea and with his second wife, Cheralie, they left Plymouth in August 1996 on an old classic ketch and sailed south.

After enduring 3 storms in two months they put into the Algarve to consider the next move and in 1997 entered the Mediterranean in search of somewhere to stop. In September they found Formetera, a sub-tropical island in the Western Mediterranean with safe and free anchorages, and began the process of trying to come to terms with the issues that were troubling Andy. They had no communications with the world until 2000, when their son Tom was born. Andy required this strict isolation in order to unravel his complex emotions and thoughts.

In 2008 Andy managed to find his first work since 1996 in the maritime security industry and this enabled him to buy his first laptop. It was then that he learned that he was suffering from PTSD.

In 2009 Andy and Cheralie sold the yacht and came ashore in Ibiza, where their son was now in school. They had lived aboard for 18 years.

In 2012 Andy was invited to lecture to his old unit, 45 Commando Royal Marines, on his war and its effects. He managed this with no emotional fall-out and declared that day, the 6th of September 2012, as the day his 30-year battle with PTSD was finished.

Since then Andy has devoted his life to helping veterans with PTSD and has mentored men and women from the USA, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. In June 2014 he incorporated The Mountain Way PTSD Community Interest Company (CIC) as the necessary business structure to conduct his charitable work. This was superseded by becoming a UK registered charity, number 1171751, in February 2017.

Today Andy is supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, who seek to create a sound and ethical platform from which Andy can deliver his unique and successful programme, whose aim is to eradicate suicide amongst the UK veteran community suffering from PTSD. To date his programme has a 100% success rate.