SICK and injured servicemen and women and war veterans are taking to the water as part of their rehabilitation.
Durham Amateur Rowing Club is offering fortnightly sessions on the River Wear to help Armed Forces personnel recuperate.
The club is working with Phoenix House, the recovery centre at Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire, on Row2Recovery, a domestic rowing programme to introduce more wounded military men and women to the sport.
It follows the formation of the Endeavour Fund, which was created by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Former Paratrooper Dean Middleton suffered severe brain injuries in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan and is one of the instructors.
The 29-year-old, of Seaham Harbour, County Durham, is now employed as a strength and conditioning assistant at Phoenix House.
He said: “Rowing is a great exercise and I am great believer in physical activity releasing endorphins and serotonin that increase your feeling of well-being.
“It is a great step in the recovery and people can put in practice what they learn in the gym on the water.
“At first it might be daunting and nerve-racking, but it is a very rewarding and satisfying experience. Rowing through the city is very scenic and picturesque and you get a lot out of it.”
Tam Hunter, 51, a veteran with more than 25 years service, served in the Falklands, Germany, Bosnia and Iraq, but was diagnosed as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2005.
He also suffers from dementia and travels to take part in the sessions from his home, near Stirling, in Scotland, with his wife Lorna, 48.
She said: “It is the camaraderie from coming that he gets out of it.
“His whole demeanour just changes when he is here. He enjoys the activity and the socialising. It is a beautiful place and so relaxing.
“Everyone is here for the same reason. Everybody, pardon the pun, is in the same boat.”
To contribute to The Northern Echo's £100,000 appeal for a performing arts facility at Phoenix House, print out the form at thenorthernecho.co.uk/ resources/files/31397, complete and send, with a cheque for Help For Heroes, to Phoenix House Recovery Centre, Richmond Road, Catterick Garrison, DL9 3AW.
Alternatively, visit northernecho.co.uk/helpforheroes