An ex-serviceman who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been delighted by an unexpected action-packed family getaway by leading train company CrossCountry.
Mark Isherwood, 27 from Warrington served in Afghanistan in 2010 as a member of the Royal Engineers' Counter Improvised Explosive Device Task Force. While in Afghanistan Mark witnessed a colleague and close friend lose his life in the line of duty.
Following his return from Afghanistan Mark was diagnosed with PTSD. This was an extremely difficult time for him and his family. Since then Mark has turned his life around and is now working at SkillForce, a charity that draws upon the skills of ex-servicemen to help inspire young people to succeed.
It was at the school in Liverpool where Mark works for SkillForce that his wife Dawn, mum Joyce, toddler son Charlie and CrossCountry, surprised him.
This started Mark's whirlwind journey, which included parachuting with the renowned Red Devils, an outdoor adventure afternoon with GoApe, Motor Safari driving experience and a visit to the former set of Coronation Street and more.
The highlights from Mark's day have been captured on film by CrossCountry as part of its campaign to encourage customers to make the most of today by taking advantage of its best value Advance fares now available on the day of travel, which are cheaper fares on sale up to 15 minutes before departure.
A stunned Mark said: "When Dawn walked into the hall I had no idea what was going on! To then be told that I would be taken across the country to do all these brilliant things made my day. I had a fantastic time and I'd really like to thank all those involved, especially the surprise team at CrossCountry who made it all happen."
Dawn, Mark's wife who recommended Mark for this spontaneous adventure, said: "I know how difficult the last few years have been for Mark so it was wonderful to be part of planning this surprise for him. Mark's a real adrenaline junkie so I knew he'd love all of the activities planned for him."
Andy Smith from SkillForce added: "Mark works so hard with the students and he is an inspiration to them each and every day. I can't think of anyone more deserving of this reward."
Clare Shufflebotham from CrossCountry is thrilled to see a hero rewarded: "When we heard about Mark's story we were so inspired and wanted to do something really special for him. Speaking to Dawn, it became clear that Mark was an adrenaline junkie so a day of spontaneous, action-packed fun by train seemed like the perfect way to reward him."
You can view Mark's surprise video here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bLWWKWz1ak and join in the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #makethemostoftoday.
Notes to editors
CrossCountry started operating on 11 November 2007. The franchise, which is the most extensive in the UK, will run until 31 March 2016. For further information on CrossCountry services and future franchise plans log on to crosscountrytrains.co.uk.
CrossCountry is part of the Arriva group, which is owned by Deutsche Bahn. Arriva is a leading pan-European public transport operators with more than 42,000 employees and operations across 12 European countries. The link to Arriva is www.arriva.co.uk. The link to Deutsche Bahn is deutschebahn.com.
Like CrossCountry on Facebook at facebook.com/crosscountrytrains.
Follow CrossCountry on Twitter via twitter.com/crosscountryuk.
Passengers can buy tickets for any rail journey in Britain, with any train company and with no booking fee at crosscountrytrains.co.uk or via the free CrossCountry Train Tickets app.Download the app by visiting your app store or by texting TRAVEL to 87080.
CrossCountry facts and figures
STATIONS SERVED: 119
ROUTE MILES: 1,490
WEEKDAY SERVICES: 295
PASSENGERS CARRIED: Over 30 million passenger journeys a year anticipated
ANNUAL TRAIN MILEAGE: Approximately 16 million
EMPLOYEES: Approximately 1,600
LONGEST TRAIN SERVICE: 08.20 Aberdeen to Penzance (774 miles)
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