Wednesday 10 December 2014
A group of former servicemen, who find solace from their 'hidden wounds' through woodwork, have created a crib scene for use in the Garrison Memorial Church. Military Padre, the Rev Anne Freestone, collected the tableau from Help for Heroes northern Recovery Centre, Phoenix House, where the wood crafters meet once a week as part of their Recovery process.
"I just happened to be in the art room one afternoon in September when the veterans were chiselling away and they said how fabulous it would be if they could make something on a Christmas theme that I could display in the church," said Rev Freestone, Officiating Chaplain for 5 Armed Medical Regiment and the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit (MDHU), Northallerton, on Catterick Garrison.
Phoenix House volunteer Chris Morgan, who runs the group, suggested a nativity scene. Since then regulars Andy Lake, Ted Granger and Bob Taylor have been busy producing the pieces to feature in the scene.
All three veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD - resulting from experiences during their years of service. Andy also has physical injuries - damage to his ankles, knees, hips and lower back as well as diabetes and thyroid problem.
"Woodworking is quite technical, but when you are doing it, you are not thinking of the pain, disabilities or problems left at home but about what you are trying to achieve and the pleasure you will get out of the piece," said Andy.
As a result of the men's efforts, Rev Freestone was able to take away 13 pieces - a baby in a crib, Mary, Joseph, an angel, star, shepherd, a wise man, two sheep and a camel and Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. All will be set in a rustic stable made by Chris Morgan from hazel wood coppiced from Fox Glove Covet nature reserve on the Garrison.
"The whole set has taken my breath away - it's so lovely," said Rev Freestone. "I am blown away by the effort involved, the men who have done it and the care that has been taken. It has made Christmas for me!"
Contact: Help for Heroes
(PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF PHOENIX HOUSE RECOVERY CENTRE)
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