Veterans Nick Martin and Mark Humphreys from Plymouth have been selected by Help for Heroes to hone their creative skills and help design a new range of products. Funds raised from the sale of the merchandise will enable the charity to support other wounded and sick veterans and their families.
Veteran Nick was a stores accountant with the Royal Navy and spent most of his time at sea. He saw action in the Falklands Campaign, being on the Atlantic Conveyor when she was hit. This is the reason why, having struggled with PTSD since that time, he ended up contacting Help for Heroes many years later.
He says art has been hugely beneficial to him as part of his recovery, helping him to relax, focus his mind and manage his PTSD: “Art just takes me away from everyday trouble and strife and I can sit and draw and sketch and paint for six, seven, eight hours and while I’m doing that I don’t have flashbacks, I don’t have any dark thoughts I’m not entering places I don’t want to go. It’s just really, really relaxing.”
Help for Heroes has used one of Nick’s paintings for a women’s t-shirt and set of tea towels. He says he was proud to see the final result: Seeing my artwork on a product for the very first time was just really emotional. It just looks stunning. It’s just incredible to think that somebody has seen something that I have done which I think of as a scribble or a scrawl and produced something so, so beautiful.”
Keen photographer and former Infantryman Mark joined the Army at the age of 15. He undertook many tours around the world, before being medically discharged after 16 years of Service. He says he had many years of good health before suffering a series of mini strokes, including ‘one big one’.
Mark uses photography as a device to focus his mind: “Photography is my escape from reality, it keeps my mind focussed on now, this moment in time and not in the past. Each image is a new life experience for me. I am very proud and humbled for my image to be used as a Help for Heroes Christmas card.”
Tanya Ingleton, Head of Marketing for Help for Heroes retail division: “The designs by Nick, Mark and the other artists are wonderful and I’m sure they’ll be very popular as Christmas presents. This new range provides a great showcase of the incredible talent we have amongst the veterans we help. I hope it will inspire people to buy authentic items that are not just great gifts, but ones that will do good too.”
Help for Heroes supports anyone who is wounded or becomes ill as a result of their Service. However, recovery from physical or psychological injury takes time and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Some may benefit from a physical programme, such as sports recovery. However, others, like Nick and Mark, may find creativity eases the daily struggle of living with pain, depression, anxiety or PTSD.
Art and design can provide the peace and quiet that they crave, while others find it therapeutic as it helps them to express emotions without words, process complex feelings and find relief.
In October, Help for Heroes revealed that injury has forced almost 40,000 men and women to leave the military over the past 20 years. Over 25% of these have been since the end of the war in Afghanistan, despite the British Armed Forces not being engaged in active conflict during this period.
The number of Service Personnel whose lives have been derailed by injury grows every day.
To see the full Help for Heroes catalogue, which includes a great selection of clothing, Christmas cards & decorations and homeware, visit https://shop.helpforheroes.org.uk/.
100% of the profits from the sale of the items goes to Help for Heroes, providing much needed funds that will enable the charity to support our wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women and their families.
Help for Heroes offers support throughout the year from its Recovery Centre in Plymouth and community locations across the South West. To get support or give support visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk.