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Former soldier heals PTSD wounds through art

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THE work of a former Warrington soldier who used art to help him on the road to recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has gone on show at a special exhibition.

Father of two Alan Izzard has seen his work go on show alongside other ex-servicemen and women who suffered injury and trauma during their careers at an exhibtion in Manchester city centre, exploring the value that art can have in recovery.

The veterans’ work, displayed as part of a poignant exhibition chronicling their journey back from life-changing injury and trauma with the aid of charity Help for Heroes (H4H), appears alongside the artists’ inspirational stories of bravery and resilience.

Alan, a former forward observer for the Royal Artillery had a 13-year military career, which saw him serve tours in Iraq, Bosnia, Cyprus and the Gulf. He retired from the military with an exemplary discharge, but, two years later, the hidden effects of Alan’s tours began to surface until they became unmanageable.

Alan rekindled his passion for art while on the road to recovery with Help for Heroes following a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He said: “Part of PTSD is that you suffer flashbacks. Because I was struggling to express some of the issues I was having, I’d find it easier to write it down or put it into a picture.

“We’d sketch some of the images and rip them up to get that image out of you.”

Alan, 46 fulfilled his dream of serving in the armed forces when he signed up at the age of 17.

He said: “I treat it as a positive. What I’m trying to do is not only show that out of darkness can come some positives and that the work people can produce has meaning, but also open up the conversation about mental health, to dispel the stigma around the condition which prevents people opening up about the way they feel and seeking help and treatment.”

A preview evening, hosted by law firm Slater and Gordon included speeches from Lord Mayor Carl Austin-Behan and H4H Head of Recovery North, David McNeill. Coronation Street star and H4H ambassador, Antony Cotton, also attended.

Help for Heroes Head of Recovery North, David McNeill, said: “Long-term recovery is more than repairing damaged bodies and minds; it’s about rebuilding lives.

“Art and woodcraft are just some of the wide range of activities provided by Help for Heroes to inspire our heroes to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives, enabling them to reach their full potential and supporting them and their families for life.”

The Art of Recovery Exhibition of Art and Woodcraft is on display to the public at Slater and Gordon’s walk-in centre on Mosley Street, Manchester, until Wednesday May 31.

Alan Izzard during his army days

Alan Izzard during his army days

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Experienced journalist for more than 30 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC and current director. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management

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