Lee Ellerker joined the Army in 1988 at the age of 16 and served as an infantry man in the First Battalion, The Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire.
He served operational tours in Ireland and Bosnia. Whilst serving in Bosnia for the United Nations, at the age of 21 Lee was caught in an artillery barrage between the two warring factions in his operational area. Shrapnel broke his left leg in the attack and he was CASEVAC to Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital in Woolwich. During his recovery, he was diagnosed with PTSD and medically discharged from the Armed Forces. This was the last thing that Lee expected to happen, and he was unsure what to do next.
Lee was rehoused by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and whilst living there, a gas engineer came to service the boiler. They got talking about careers and the gas engineer recommended that Lee look into training to become a plumber. The following week Lee was enrolled at Hull College and three years later he qualified as a Plumber and Heating Engineer.
After working for a few plumbing companies and starting a family, Lee decided to take the leap into self-employment and founded Heat Therm in 2010, a company that specialises in the jet-flushing and descaling of commercial and industrial properties and equipment. In turn, Lee’s experience with professional cleaning equipment resulted in the opening of Veteran Stone, which provides high-quality cleaning to homeowners, landlords and commercial properties.
What makes Veteran Stone truly unique is that we only hire veterans who are in need of a fresh start. The idea came to Lee when he stopped to talk to a homeless veteran living on the streets, whose marriage had fallen apart and now had nowhere to go. Lee decided that something needed to be done for people in this situation, so he contacted Help for Heroes to get advice on how to take the idea forward.
Help for Heroes put Lee in touch with Heropreneurs, who also loved the idea and added him to a mentoring scheme. Imagine Lee’s surprise when his mentor turned out to be the CEO of one of the world’s largest fast food chains, who was also an ex-serviceman. The guidance and insight this CEO shared was phenomenal and it wasn’t long before Veteran Stone was born.
“When you put a coin in a Help for Heroes collection box, this is where it goes. The support I’ve received from Help for Heroes, Heropreneurs and X-Force is invaluable and I couldn’t have done this without them. Thanks to their help, veterans are being trained for a respectable new career and their wellbeing is at the core of everything we do.”