Happy New Year and Plans for the Future
Happy New year and a very warm welcome to our new Heroic Hearts Project UK (HHPUK) blog!
This regular blog will feature articles written by our team members and collaborative partners, ranging in content between our own work here at HHPUK through UK drug policy reform, psychedelic therapy and the corresponding clinical and academic research.
I started HHPUK in March 2020 just as the UK went into its first nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. But the idea of it started in spring 2014 when I first walked out of the Peruvian rainforest surrounding the small nearby town of Chazuta, having just had my first experiences with the plant medicine known as ayahuasca. Funnily, there is a Peruvian legend that involves a pale-skinned man with a huge red beard who lives in the jungle and kidnaps children and eats them. When I walked out of the jungle into the nearest village, all the local children started screaming and pointing and crying because I had a huge red beard at the time and am naturally very pale skinned. I don’t eat children though!
Inspired by my own healing experiences with ayahuasca, I returned home to the UK a changed man. My combat experiences in Afghanistan and the subsequent breakdowns of significant relationships meant I had found myself in a very difficult place. But I left Peru a healed man with a range of valuable new tools to help me live life in a healthier way. I remain very grateful to the medicine and my shaman, Don Aquilino, for this incredible gift.
However, among my circle of friends and family in the UK, no one had heard of Ayahuasca or psychedelic therapy and so were very sceptical about my experiences (My son insisted I had been sat naked in the jungle licking frogs and had gone mad). It was clear to me that an organisation enabling veterans to access this tremendous healing power was of vital importance, especially given the suicide rates among the veterans’ community. That organisation didn’t exist. At least, not in the UK. And that’s when I was introduced to Jesse Gould, founder and President of Heroic Hearts Project in the USA. We spoke at great length via video call and I realised Jesse had already created the very organisation I had envisaged and that our intentions and ambitions were totally aligned. He very kindly granted me permission to start the UK branch of Heroic Hearts and here we are today nearly a year down the line and making significant progress on all fronts!
HHPUK exists to help UK military and emergency services (Police, Fire and Ambulance) veterans gain legal access to psychedelic therapy. Once international lockdowns ease, we will start facilitating ayahuasca retreats in Peru and psilocybin retreats in The Netherlands. While our Peru retreat is currently fully booked, funded and planned for April/May, we have yet to set a date or begin vetting participants for the retreat in The Netherlands.
In addition to our retreats, we have plenty of very exciting news to share with you all in the coming weeks, so I urge you to subscribe to our newsletter via the website in order to stay abreast of what’s going on. We’ll have information on upcoming documentaries, our very own ground-breaking psilocybin research study as well as news on courses and opportunities for volunteering within our community.
Once again, I welcome you all to our cause. We’re really doing great work and will only help more people with your support. So, please do subscribe to the newsletter and follow us across our social media channels.
I wish you all a wonderful 2021!