A FATHER-OF-TWO from Andover who has been serving in the armed forces for more than 30 years wants to thank the Royal British Legion in the lead up to Remembrance Day, after he received support from them in recovery from a rare disease.

Ted Youd, who was part of The Royal Lancers regiment in the army as a Warrant Officer Class 1, contracted Q fever in December 2012 while on his seventh deployment to Afghanistan.

The 51-year-old, who now works from the Army headquarters in Andover, said: “I was there for a couple of weeks to check the ops equipment and I just started to feel unwell. At first, I thought it was flu as I had a lot of the symptoms. I felt tired, had a sore throat, I was aching. I just felt really run down.

“I flew home, and I was due to go back out in January, but I just couldn’t go. I felt too unwell.”

Ted’s condition didn’t improve, and he felt constantly tired, adding: “It was horrendous. For weeks and weeks, I was going into the office and then coming home and going straight to bed. I wasn’t myself and I couldn’t work out what was going on.”

Ted was also suffering from anxiety and said: “Every single day I honestly thought that I was going to have a heart attack, or I was going to die in certain circumstances.”

He added: “I used to just lie in bed and wait for the family to come home, get up for an hour or two, and then go back to bed. I think that was more an isolation thing rather than illness. Sometimes I couldn’t even stand up to brush my teeth. That was when I really started to spiral downhill.”

Ted was referred by his doctor to an infectious disease clinic in Birmingham and was finally diagnosed in August 2015.

“Because it is so rare it was difficult to pinpoint,” Ted said, adding: “Obviously I was shocked when I was told. The doctors told me that it’s in the dust out there in Afghanistan. It’s animal excrement. Anyone could have picked it up, I was just the unlucky one.”

Ted was then referred to Headley Court for rehabilitation and then onto the Legion’s Battle Back Centre.

He is still affected by Q fever now and said: “I’ve never really got rid of it. I’m not on medication and I keep myself fit but it still affects me. I still get tired. Mentally I’m better and that’s thanks largely to the Legion and the Battle Back Centre.”

He added: “The Battle Back Centre changed my life. I literally couldn’t stand up properly for nine months. I was going to work, then going home and then going to bed. I was knackered.

“When I went to Battle Back the first time I took part in wheelchair basketball to break the ice. I couldn’t stand up when I arrived, but after that first session I realised there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

Ted hopes his story will encourage people to donate to the Poppy Appeal this year and said: “I don’t think people truly realise the extent to which their gestures helps people like me who need support.

“This country gives a lot of money to charities including the Legion to support servicemen and women and we actually feel loved because of that support. A lot of us are on a recovery journey and the public is supporting that journey supporting the Legion.”

To mark the final year of the First World War centenary, The Royal British Legion has launched a national movement to say ‘thank you’ to the First World War generation who served, sacrificed and changed our world 100 years ago, and is asking communities to plan their own ‘thank you’ activity.

The Legion was founded in the aftermath of the war to support the Armed Forces community and, as Ted’s story shows, is still helping people today.

Ted said: “In this commemorative year I think it’s vitally important that we remember those who have given their service for our freedoms – whether it’s the soldiers who fought on the frontline, or the communities who kept life going on the home front.

“Everyone has a reason to say, ‘thank you’. We all have a connection to the First World War and the Legion is encouraging every person in the UK today to recognise the legacy that generation left us.”