The National Lottery Community Fund have granted just under £10,000 to Belisama’s Retreat CIC as part of a £17k programme of improvements at their wilderness retreat near Preston, Lancashire.

Belisama’s Retreat is a woodland and riverside retreat for military Veteran’s mental well-being where those struggling with the return to “Civvy Street” can get back to basics, enjoy space to breathe and re-engage with wild spaces.

Many service leavers carry traumas from their military service and eco-therapy is proven to help in recovery. The Retreat’s unique approach has lead to a significant improvement in the mental well-being in 92% of visitors.

The project, part-funded by regional businesses, community groups and private donations aims to improve access and facilities at the Retreat:

• The installation of an Anglo-Saxon path from the top meadow down to the riverside to make the Retreat more easily accessible;
• The drainage of an area of riverside woodland to make way for a covered forest school classroom and communal campfire area;
• The erection of a secure storage shed for tools and equipment.

Belisama’s Retreat is Veteran led: Founder, JP Marriot, spent the cold war hidden in the German forests defending a tactical nuclear weapon against attack from elite Russian Spetznaz troops but found the time to become an Army Physical Training Instructor, boxing champion and Combined Services hammer thrower. His right hand man Steve Robinson, a former Army mountaineering instructor, trained with the Italian “Alpini” mountain troops and in the Arctic with the Commando Brigade. He served during the Bosnian conflict, is a witness to the siege of Sarajevo and a PTSD survivor.

“We have anglers, paddlers, photographers, nature watchers, wilderness chefs and bushcraft buffs but the most popular pastime at Belisama’s is sitting around the campfire with kindred spirits. It helps you focus on the basic essentials for a happy life.”

“We have an ever-growing and cheery band of volunteers but desperately need more help to make this happen. New faces are always made welcome around the campfire, Veteran or not.”

For information on how to get involved, either fundraising or volunteering at Belisama’s Retreat visit their website: and follow them on Facebook: