A lifeline

The Viking Boat Co was established in 2021 and its flagship project is to build a replica of a Viking longboat, which is scheduled to be completed by next summer.
Around 30 veterans, many of them diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, are being supported by the project and it was fitting that the Society’s grant was handed over during National PTSD Awareness Month.
Bob Marshall, the driving force behind The Viking Boat Co, said: “We can’t thank Darlington Building Society enough for this grant, which is a lifeline for an organisation like us. Any support is gratefully received but £6,468 goes a long way here.”
The money will be used towards buying wood supplies, covering the transport of beneficiaries, and paying for the training of one of the veterans, Phil Williams, who suffered a severe brain injury in a helicopter crash.
“PSTD is a virulent condition that destroys lives and breaks families, but doing something creative like woodwork helps break down the barriers. It’s a simple thing but it’s about making people feel valued, comfortable, and needed.
“When we received confirmation that our application for a grant had been successful, the news was like a springboard. It’s liberating because we know we can carry on doing what we do.”
Marc Iveson, who was medically discharged from The Rifles regiment, has only been with The Viking Boat Co for a few weeks but is already feeling an improvement in his mental health.
“Coming here gets me out of my own head and gives me a purpose because I’m learning new skills. Any support is welcome but £6,468 is going to make a real difference to veterans who are struggling – and there are a lot of us out there.”

A viking visit

The Viking Boat Co’s workshop is leased from Darlington Timber Supplies, and Darlington Building Society chief executive, Andrew Craddock, visited the site to see veterans at work on the Viking longboat and other woodwork projects.
Andrew said: “I enjoyed meeting up with the inspirational Bob Marshall and his team at the Viking Boat Company. To hear first-hand some of the stories of his crew, who are learning new skills building a Viking longboat, but also developing mental resilience and coping strategies was very moving.
“It is fantastic to hear directly from the beneficiaries of our funding and see what a real difference organisations such as this are making in the local area with those that need our help the most.”