A Perthshire veteran reckons taking refuge in his very own “man cave” will help in his fightback from post-traumatic stress.
Paul Wilkie, of Guildtown, has suffered from PTSD since leaving the Armed Forces in 2012, and hopes taking up pottery in his new shed will help in his recovery.
He secured a grant of £900 from the Armed Forces Charity, SSAFA and went in search of a shed.
He approached Gillies and Mackay earlier this month and, having learned more about his background, the company offered Paul a shed worth £3500 for his £900.
Paul said: “I cannot believe the generosity of Gillies and Mackay and thank SSAFA so much for helping me through this process.
He added: “When Gillies and Mackay phoned me back, I said ‘you’re joking’, and they said ‘no’.”
Cara Mackay, Managing Director of Gillies and Mackay said: “A shed is an endless possibility of creativity, safety and wellbeing.
“Paul’s story is something we all know well and we’re honoured to be of service to him.
“It’s great to see the shed installed and Paul getting to start on his art therapy.
“We wish him all the best with it and hope that it offers him a relaxing space for his ongoing recovery.”
Paul had a 22-year long career in the Armed Forces, during which he served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.
On returning to civilian life, his PTSD became so severe that he lost his wife, home and job, and lived rough for a time in a Perthshire forest.
He has since secured his home in Guildtown and is supported by his service dog, Irma, the first PTSD service dog in Scotland.
Paul was advised by his mental health team that artistic therapy could be a positive means of further helping him in his recovery.
This created the idea of creating pottery pieces.
Paul told The Courier: “My mental health team was concerned, and they said I should get a new hobby.
“At the moment, I am going into the shed and making walking sticks.
“I don’t want to sell them but I want to give them away to people who need them.
“The pottery will also give me something to do during the day.”
He added: “The shed is more than a shed for someone like me with PTSD.
“This shed has given me a space – that is how much it means to me.”
As he continues on his own road to recovery, Paul is raising funds for a walled remembrance garden to remember Perthshire veterans who have taken their lives.
“I want to build a walled remembrance garden with all the names of those veterans, past, present and future, that have taken their life on every brick in the garden”, he said.
He added: “I have been to hell and back, and Irma looks out for me.
“Since I have left the army, I have had a really hard life.
“I don’t want to be another statistic.
“I have life experience of PTSD and that’s why people turn to me for advice.”
Paul believes the pottery will now give him something extra to focus his attention on.
“It gives you a wee purpose in life”, he said.
“If you don’t have a purpose in life, what is there?”
Donations to Paul’s fundraiser can be made on his JustGiving page.