Old cutlery helps army veteran tackle his PTSD

Darth Vader log burner made by Mark Thompson
Darth Vader log burner made by Mark Thompson

A soldier has found an unusual way of combating the post-traumatic stress disorder he developed after seeing the horrors of battle in the Gulf.

Former army medic Mark Thompson has found comfort in making unique sculptures and log burners out of knives, forks, spoons and odd bits of pre-loved metalwork.

A log burner made by Mark Thompson

A log burner made by Mark Thompson

He is now appealing for help from local people who might have unwanted cutlery lurking in their drawers.

Mark was a frontline medic in the Army Medical Corps after joining up at the age of just 16.

He is a veteran of the first Gulf war and did four tours of Bosnia with the United Nations and NATO.

The PTSD he suffered following the gulf war went untreated and, when he left the army 12 years later, he ended up sleeping rough.

A swan made with spoons by sculptor Mark Thompson

A swan made with spoons by sculptor Mark Thompson

Mark said: “I saw the most horrific things.

“We were basically frontline paramedics. In Bosnia we were coming across mass graves and there were scenes that were beyond belief.

“After the first Gulf War was when the PTSD began but in those days you just had to get on with it. You didn’t talk about your emtions.

“I carried on and did four tours of Bosnia. My perception of reality was very altered. I felt fine as long as I was getting shot at!”

Colourful sculptures made by Mark Thompson

Colourful sculptures made by Mark Thompson

When Mark left the army in 1997 he ended up jobless and sleeping on the streets of Kent because of his struggles with his mental health. He also had various physical injuries to his back, neck and shoulder from his time in the army.

He ended up coming to Kettering for a friend’s wedding in 2000 and never left. He met his wife Lorraine and got various welding jobs.

Mark, who now lives on a boat in Barnwell, said: “I got better and better at the metalwork and started making little things in my spare time.

“I find it really helps because you’re staring at a little dot and the rest of the world just disappears. You don’t hear anything and you don’t think about anything.

“I started off just making things to give away but then eventually I got a shed and made bigger things.

“I’m on the road to recovery now but I want to help others in my position.

“When you’ve been in the forces it’s often difficult to speak about your experiences to people who haven’t been there.

“I’d like to eventually have people to stay here so I can teach them how to deal with PTSD using art therapy.”

If you have old cutlery to donate to Mark, his father-in-law Bill, from Corby, can collect it from you. You can call Bill on 01536 203329 or 07939 392157.

You can view Mark’s work by visiting his Facebook site Phoenix Artistic Fabrications.