Meet The Veteran Who Truly Can See The Wood From The Trees - X-Forces Enterprise
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Meet The Veteran Who Truly Can See The Wood From The Trees

From PTSD To Tree Services: How A Veteran Found His New Passion

Craig Ashley has always enjoyed working in the great outdoors. It made perfect sense, therefore, that when his military career came to a close in 2021 – after a diagnosis of combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – that his next career would involve lots of fresh air.

Determined to pursue a career as an Arborist, Craig used his resettlement allowances to attain his City and Guilds Forestry and Arboriculture Level 3 Certificate, for which he was awarded a distinction. He swiftly went about setting up Craig Ashley Tree Services and, in the process, spending a significant amount of his own money on tools and vehicles. The business grew and Craig was obviously keen to take on bigger, more complex projects, but this meant further investment in equipment.

“At this point I was borrowing and hiring Wood-Chippers to complete work, but the cost was quite excessive, and I was severely restricted by availability. Wood-Chippers substantially reduce the bulk of waste making it a lot easier to transport in greater quantities compared to just cut branches. Woodchip is also a handy by-product that I can sell on to people for their gardens, allotments etc.”

A bottom of the range, professional, towable Wood-Chipper that can handle the quantity of material that Craig was producing, costs between £15,000-£19,000. He approached his own bank as well as a number of finance companies but, being a new business, they were unable to provide him with a loan.

“My business was doing extremely well but through these application processes you don’t really get a chance to show that, they are very black and white in the yes or no decision to a loan. I was running out of options and ended up on the Royal British Legion website where I saw that they endorsed X-Forces Enterprise.”

At this point we were able to support Chris with an application for funding through the Government-backed Start Up Loans scheme. This involved creating a business plan, cashflow forecasting, and providing a significant amount of detailed information.

“It did take a couple of hours behind a computer but the massive advantage of this is that you can, in great detail, describe your circumstances and stand a chance of demonstrating that you are a financially viable candidate. I had no prior business experience, but X-Forces Enterprise assigned me a Business Advisor who was extremely helpful and very patient with me. Cue a week of finalising my plans/forecasts and my business loan was approved!”

With the right tools in place, Craig is now able to take on a lot more work and is set to expand his business. “I am truly grateful to X-Forces Enterprise. I would not have stood a chance without their help, and they have allowed my business to grow. The transition to ‘civvy street’ was extremely difficult after 18 years in the military and having PTSD. However, I’m finding my feet now and I’m extremely grateful for the help and support I have been given.”

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For more information about Chris’s business, visit:



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