THE Director of the Government’s new Office for Veteran Affairs, which will aim to improve life for ex-military personnel, was made in Worcester, courtesy of Dines Green Primary,  Aymestry School and the city’s Royal Grammar.

It’s been a long and winding road for Col David Richmond from the classrooms in Tudor Way and The Tything, through the First and Second Gulf Wars, the tinderbox of Bosnia and on to Afghanistan, where, as the Old Sweats would say, he caught his packet.

With his battle group under intense fire, Col Richmond was moving to higher ground to check reference points when a bullet from behind shattered his right thigh and came out the front, making him the highest ranking officer to be wounded in the conflict.

“Serious wounding, or worse, is an accepted part of being a soldier, especially an infantryman, and I suppose the more times you go into combat the greater the chance it might happen,” he said.

“And it happened to me just north of Musah Qaleh.”

Four years later and after eight major operations, which involved growing back ten centimetres of his right femur, he declares his leg “reasonably functional,” although he’ll never again play cricket for Worcestershire 2nd XI, as he did during his student years.

However what the injury does, is give him more connection and credibility with military vets. This man is one of their own, he’s been there, suffered it and come through it.

That David Richmond has ended up in the army will come as no surprise to anyone who knew him as a lad. “I always loved playing soldiers,” he explained.

His parents lived in Westview Close and with the primary school at Dines Green on his doorstep he started there before moving on to the now disappeared independent Aymestrey School at Crown East and then the Royal Grammar in The Tything.

At RGS he joined the army section of the Combined Cadet Force and rose to the rank of Sergeant Major.

He played county level rugby and cricket while at school and in the latter also appeared for Worcestershire Under 25’s and Worcestershire CCC 2nd XI. “I began playing cricket for the school first team when I was 14, “ he said, “and carried right on through.”

But the army won the day and he went through Sandhurst in 1986, afterwards joining the Royal Highland Fusiliers as a second lieutenant, “because we are a Scottish family.” In fact Col Richmond was commanding officer of 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland in Afghanistan.

As he lay wounded on the battlefield a medic applied a tourniquet, dressings and gave him morphine while the bullets continued to fly. He was helicoptered to Camp Bastion and operated on immediately. The following night Col Richmond was flown back to the UK and spent five weeks in Selly Oak Hospital having further operations.  He had lost five centimetres of bone to the Taleban and another five were removed later. Surgeons gradually managed to grow back the missing bone and his leg is now the right length, considerably weaker, but fairly useable.

Determined to put his experience to good use, Col Richmond joined the Help for Heroes charity and became its first Director of Recovery, where he created and then ran their recovery services for 6 years. He explained: “I felt I could understand  the struggles that some of the veterans face.” His new job as the Director of the Office for Veteran Affairs will in some ways be an expansion of that role as it seeks to improve veterans’ services in areas such as mental health, employment and housing and improve collaboration between government departments, the military charities, academia and the private sector.

“Leading the OVA will provide a unique opportunity to serve our veteran community as they transition to civilian life and to ensure the experience and the support  they receive is world leading,” he added.

And it all began in a classroom off Tudor Way, Dines Green.