An injured soldier from Selsey is carving out a new life for himself after leaving the forces and suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
Former Staff Sergeant Gareth Roberts was injured on exercise in Canada when he fell from a Challenger 2 tank.
He suffered multiple injuries, including a spinal injury and damage to his dominant left hand.
Gareth left the military in 1993 after a British Armed Forces restructure called Options for Change, where total manpower was cut by approximately 18 per cent.
He had joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1976 and served for 17 years.
Gareth went into the world of forensic science after his military career but still struggled with his physical injuries – especially as his dominant hand was damaged.
He found it was difficult to cope mentally, too.
Gareth explained: “The three tours of Northern Ireland have always stayed with me. We were subjected to daily bombings and rioting.
“I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD in 2008. As time went on and without help, my PTSD was getting progressively worse.”
Gareth became a member of the Help for Heroes Band of Brothers (BoB), a group where wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans get together for experience days, courses and support.
He was recently given the opportunity to attend a woodturning course run by one of his idols, thanks to the military charity.
The group that attended the course made a variety of objects, including a fruit bowl and chalices, both long and short-stemmed.
It was all done in a relaxed environment at Tedworth House, a Help for Heroes recovery centre on the Wiltshire and Hampshire border, with other military personnel and expert guidance.
“The course was great, I was able to take things at my own pace due to my injury in my left hand,” said Gareth.
“It was my first time at Tedworth House but I felt so comfortable. I was able to talk to people outside of a clinical setting to people that are going through similar things as me. I didn’t have to be so guarded and because I felt comfortable, I felt better.
“It has definitely relaxed me because I enjoyed it so much. I was very focused, therefore less stressed. I learned new skills and I really enjoyed the week. I’d love go to further with this.
“It’s really fulfilling being given a tree trunk in the morning and turning it into something completely different by the afternoon.”
Gareth is now looking into ways he can further hone his craft skills, having extended his artistry to make wooden pens and leathercraft items.
To support Help for Heroes, visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk
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