When a SSAFA caseworker helped Grant Evatt back in 1996, the former soldier promised he would one day give something back. Now a successful lawyer, Grant has also been a SSAFA caseworker himself for four years and has recently opened his own law firm.
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Grant first enlisted aged 16 in the Junior Leaders Regiment RA. After a year at Bramcote Barracks, he volunteered for Commando Forces, passing the All Arms Commando Course at the age of 18. For the next ten years he served exclusively with 29 Commando Regiment RA, where he was trained to become an alpine and jungle warfare specialist, platoon weapons instructor, military skiing instructor and parachutist. However, an injury led to the premature end of his military career and, after a year working as a commercial deep-sea diver in Hong Kong, he returned to the UK to begin the process of qualifying as a solicitor.
After a challenging first year as a student at Bournemouth University, Grant contacted SSAFA in Poole to enquire about the possibility of funding towards the purchase of compulsory legal texts. "SSAFA went the extra mile," says Grant. "They not only obtained a Student Bursary for the expensive books for Year Two and my final year, but, thanks to the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund, SSAFA were additionally able to raise sufficient funding to cover my rent for the next two years. This meant that I could give up my part-time retail and driving work and concentrate fully on my legal studies. If I had not had that help I’m not sure if I would have passed my degree."
An LLB (Hons) degree in Business Law and Law College in Guildford followed and Grant qualified as a solicitor in 2002. Alma Law, based in Andover, specialises in representing injured military personnel, veterans and their families, and Grant’s own military background has been key to his success.
Grant says: "I promised SSAFA that, once established, I would repay them. So I am especially proud to devote my spare time as a caseworker and fundraiser for SSAFA Test Valley, Hampshire.
"My military experience has been instrumental to my life and if I had my time again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Being a caseworker keeps me in touch with serving life. We all have a part to play in supporting our servicemen and women and giving them the tools they need to make it in civilian life."