Matt Wightman

In The Company of Friends


Matt Wightman, Bravo 22 Company member Testimonial. Newcastle Alumni.



Almost two years ago now since I lost my job. I’d been working offshore as a Wind Turbine Technician, I’d been in to see my GP whilst at home for a routine check up and as I was about to leave the consultation room, with my hand on the door handle my GP asked if there was anything else? I let go of the handle, turned around and broke down.

Whilst Offshore there were long periods of isolation and inactivity due to bad weather and other issues out of my control. I became introverted and spent my time in my cabin or on the top deck of the ship inevitably my mind would wander back through my past and linger. Northern Ireland 1987-89, Bosnia 1994 were both painfully etched deep inside my mind and would haunt my nights making me scream and shout so loud that I would wake my colleagues in neighbouring cabins.

Following my breakdown, I was referred to see a psychiatric consultant who diagnosed me with PTSD morbid depression and anxiety. This was linked to my military service and so I was offered treatment and support from Help for Heroes who have a recovery centre in Catterick where I live.

The support combined with medication and intensive EMDR therapy was fantastic and my confidence started to improve. I remember when I told my older sister that I’d been diagnosed with PTSD she told me that she never expected me to join the Army, she thought I would be on a stage! Later that week whilst looking at various cats, selfies and pictures of assorted dinners on Facebook I saw the Bravo 22 logo and the post asking for people to sign up to be in a play at the Theatre Royal Newcastle, my mind drifted back to the conversation with my sister and I thought to myself “What If” so I tapped the “like” button, commented in the box below and then to my absolute horror received a reply inviting me up to Newcastle to take part!

I arrived at the Theatre not knowing what I had let myself in for but this was me trying to do something outside of the comfort zone that had been provided by H4H. Inside I found myself in a room around a table full of strangers and just remember thinking to myself that I shouldn’t be here, what have I done and that I probably wouldn’t be coming back. That first session I think we filled in some forms and listened to introductions and an outline of what it was all about. On leaving the Theatre Gary Kitching showed me to the door and at the bottom of the stairs I had another door handle moment, I was about to leave and we began talking about writing and I told Gary that I had written some stuff over my time in the Army and offshore. Here I was at the bottom of the stairs in a Theatre talking enthusiastically to a real live actor and writer about my writing and he was interested and encouraging. In that short conversation, my mind had been made up. I was coming back.

Over the weeks that followed something incredible happened, the seeds of confidence had been sown and I began to enjoy being me again. What I found was that once we started the process I began to enjoy it, I felt like people believed in me and subsequently I began to believe in myself. New friendships have been forged and good memories have been made.

“Wor Stories” Our Play, I played “Moonboy” my own story about how my roommate took his own life whilst serving in Belfast and how it affected me in later life. Learning lines and rehearsing something so personal was for me the best therapy I have ever experienced and Bravo 22 is the best mistake I almost never made!

Since our successful performances last year some of us embarked on an Improvised performance under the ever watchful and talented eye of Mr Kitching and Co and found out that there is a lot of fun to be had on an imaginary Tandem. I’m now looking forward to the future and to as many more Bravo 22 adventures as I can possibly fit in. #nice2bnice