Ian served for 22 years in the Royal Artillery, including tours of the Gulf, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo. Here, we reveal how a love of art has helped him to manage his PTSD.
Ian joined the Royal Artillery in 1989, fulfilling a childhood ambition of joining the Army: “I had always wanted to be a soldier and do my bit for Queen and Country.” The following year, as a young 21-year-old Gunner, he found himself on his first operational deployment during the Gulf War. The fighting was intense and had a profound impact on him. “Looking back, that war was certainly an eye-opener,” he says.
Ian went on to serve for 22 years, finishing as a Staff Sergeant and deploying on multiple operational tours of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo and Cyprus. He developed Complex PTSD as a result of his service that endures to this day. After engaging with our partner charity, Combat Stress, a friend introduced him to pyrography – an intricate art-form that involves burning wood and other materials to create patterns or images.
Our charity was pleased to award Ian a grant for a new shed where he could pursue his new passion. Pyrography – or ‘writing with fire’ – allows Ian a safe and therapeutic way to express himself and has been instrumental in managing the symptoms of his PTSD and depression. It has also enabled him to create many pieces of personalised art, which can be seen on his Facebook page, Burnt Therapy.