Wellington-based Nick, 53, had an impressive career in the military and was in contention for a place in Great Britain’s canoeing team at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when his world was rocked by a brain haemorrhage the size of a fist.
The father of two battled back to compete at a high level again, but was medically discharged from the forces and had a mental breakdown two years ago.
The trauma of his brain injury means Nick now has overwhelming powers of recollection of events that have happened during his life, as well as difficulty processing emotional memories that come to the forefront, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.
He said: “All the masks and the faces you put on to make people think you feel normal slipped. I was unable to work and was just at home with my wife. She did her best to try and pick me up.”
However Nick has now found comradeship and support from fellow ex-servicemen and women at the Veteran Games in Israel last year, where he won two bronze medals for swimming.
He said: “It’s been amazing to see fellow veterans. “The thing is, people with mental health issues don’t always want to talk and to reach out. I did and it was life changing.”
Nick adds: "Families are the unsung heroes. My wife was my sole energy provider, so it was amazing to be able to spend it with her."
His wife, Bethan, watched on proudly as he received his two at the Veteran Games. She's been there, for better or worse, and Nick has seen his fair share of the latter.
Two years ago, the Telford father-of-two suffered a mental breakdown, brought on after he suffered a brain haemorrhage in the late 90s which
Talking of his his medical discharge from the Marines after his breakdown, Nick said: "It felt like a betrayal. Nothing prepares you for it. Back in those days you walked out and a door slammed behind you, no-one checked up on you afterwards."
Nick had enjoyed an impressive career after joining up in 1985. He initially went in to become a Royal Marines illustrator, which involved map making, aerial photography and poster design, and he later became a military policeman. A six-month tour of the Sinai desert in Egypt came inbetween.
It was in 1997 when Nick's life was rocked by a brain bleed "the size of a fist". He had built his way up to become a world class wild water canoeist, and was on course to secure a spot at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
He said: "Back in the 1980s the armed forces used to use their sports people to promote themselves and get more people to join. I was a very good canoeist and was on course to go to the Games. At that stage my whole career was about just getting to the Olympics.
"In January 1997 I had been experiencing bad headaches as well as strange senses of smell and taste. My wife took me to hospital and the neurosurgeons looked and said I had a bleed the size of a fist. I was taken in for surgery and my wife was told to prepare for the worst."
Thankfully Nick pulled through, and miraculously, he was back in a boat and winning bronze for Great Britain at the World Championships in 1999. But despite his success on the water, the Marines medically discharged him in 2000.
"Fortunately I had a job lined up teaching A-Level psychology as I'd done a degree, but I felt totally gutted to leave," he said.
Nick went on to run a successful business helping educational institutions implement A-Level psychology courses for 18 years, wrote 60 books on human psychology and lectured for 20 years.
But he broke down in 2018 with mental health issues.
"I had a complete meltdown," he said. "After about three or four months I got in touch with the Royal Marines charity and they came to see me in about three days. I felt humbled."
Nick was invited to compete at the Veteran Games in Israel, where he was joined by his family.
The Games, which is organised under the auspices of Beit Halochem, a charity for wounded soldiers , plays a big part in the ongoing recovery of veterans who have suffered physical injury and/or psychological scarring as a consequence of military service. The event brings together wounded UK and Israeli veterans for a sporting, social and cultural experience.
Nick, who is also the founder of the Royal Marines Arts Society, credits reconnecting with the Marines and with other veterans at the Games as a factor that has massively boosted his mental health and got him back on track to return to work, which he will be doing in the coming weeks after landing a new job.
"When I was invited I said 'That's nice, but what about Bethan?' They said she can come as well. She and the families of the other veterans deserve the recognition and should be able to enjoy the moment at the Games too. She was my only source of energy for a long time. When I came out of the Marines I didn't have my old friends and that sense of comradeship to fall back on."
This year's Games are expected to go ahead in May. To find out how to enter or attend, visit bhuk.org/2020-veterans-games-and-conference