This whirlwind, rollercoaster world of scale modelling has presented me with pleasure of meeting some truly inspiring folk. Here's justSOME of the stories you've shared with me about the benefits of sticking bits of plastic together.
is unique. His YouTube channel is notorious for his meticulous explanation of modelling technique for beginners and professionals. He is also unique for his humorous but brutally honest approach to testing modelling products. That's one of his videos on the right. Here's his story:
2009 I suffered a spinal cord injury that initially left me paralyzed
from the neck down. I've been fortunate enough to make a significant
recovery but I am still unable to work full-time. Scale model building
has been a lifeline for me in terms of filling my time, providing me
with an online social circle and most importantly of all… helping to
rehabilitate my fine motor skills. The challenge of manipulating
hundreds of tiny parts to create a model I can be proud of has also
helped give purpose to each day and that's something that can never be
contacted us to express his approval of
promoting scale modelling for its health benefits. His honest account
explains how he can have those gruelling days. But focussing on his
scale modelling hobby uplifts him. His model tank here clearly shows
that inspite of his symptoms he has the ability to produce some stunning
" I really love this idea. I am a Veteran myself, with several health
issues, and I do find that building models helps me get through rough
days and helps me stay positive. One concentrates on creating something,
be it a subject that has meaning, or just to be creative, and even when
it's hard or not turning out quite the way one wants it to, it keeps
the mind on positive thinking and creative problem solving. A great
idea, and a very good way to support those who have been there and done
that, without making them feel needy or greedy. "
most lads in the '70s I built the Airfix Spitfire and Me109 and had
them hanging from my bedroom ceiling and in 1984 I also built the Airfix
British Warships for a school project about the Falkland war, but never
gave them another thought.
Until my first visit to the Combat
Stress Treatment Centre at Hollybush House in Ayr, Scotland. I was shown
into the then brand new Resources Center and asked what I did to relax,
away from the pub and alcohol. I couldn’t really answer so she said
have you ever built any models? “Years ago but it’s a kid’s thing!” She
then gave me the same Airfix Spitfire I built as a kid. Some glue and a
set of paints and hours later I found I was in a different place in my
mind and had produced a reasonable job, which I was proud of.
years later I use model building as art therapy and found it opened my
life to become a member of several online model groups, building
spaceships and warships, as well as aircraft.
Model building allows
me to move my mind away from the day to day stress of living with a
major mental health problem and into a safe fantasy world, where I run a
factory building my own designs of aircraft and spaceships, and for a
few hours feel safe and in charge of my destiny once again."
from the Nelsam Scale Model Group (North East Land Sea and Air Museum) was one of the original master minds of "Operation Magpie". A truly global effort organised in 2008 by the members of the "What-if" SIG to provide a large amount of modelling equipment and model kits to the Combat Stress Treatment Centre at Hollybush House in Ayrshire. There, Michael had received treatment himself for PTSD as an ex member of the Royal Navy.
commented on a Models for Heroes post that
as an ex-soldier, he had issues adjusting to civilian life. He
explained that after attending a course run by Combat Stress, he had
begun to build models again. Building along with his youngest daughter
it was a fantastic way for him to
relax and have fun.
joined the RCT in 1989 as a young fresh faced 19 year old, and was
posted to 10 Regt RCT in Bielefeld Germany. During the two years I spent
there I completed my first operational tour to the first gulf, this was
a huge experience for me as I was doing the job I was trained to do.
the next 22 1/2 years I deployed to Bosnia, Northern Ireland, second
gulf war, Afghanistan and Cypress with the UN. I also was posted to
Germany, Belize, U.K., and Canada, with various exercises in Kenya,
I retired in 2011
While I was serving I didn't have any anger or stress issues.
After I retired my wife and family started noticing that I was becoming more and more angry and hostile towards them, this culminated in my wife giving me an ultimatum last year in April, either sort yourself out or leave. Leaving the home didn't seem like an option so I contacted Combat Stress for a consultation and evaluation, at the time I was worried that I had some sort of PTSD but it turned out I was only suffering with anger problems.
In December last year I was offered a two week residential course to
help me to address my issues and to help me with coping mechanisms.
While there I met a keen model enthusiast, as I was talking to him I
decided I was going to start building again, I still had all my stuff
stored away in the attic. While there I discovered how relaxing and non
stressful it was.
During this time I bought an air brush and compressor, which I am getting quite good with. At the end of the build you have something real that you have created and that's the best thing about it. Making models has been a real revelation to me, it allows me to have time to myself to be creative and relax.
Although I have no man cave as yet, my wife lets me use the dining room
table as long as I don't paint the table and I clear up after myself
(it's a good trade) although I'm always getting told off for buying more
kits but it is really only banter I mean a man can't have enough kits
any more than a woman can have enough shoes !!!!!
My wife is very supporting of my hobby even if she says it bores her to tears."
This led to massive arguments at home, my tolerance for our children was at 0 most of the time, I was snappy and horrible to be around.
I ended up moving out of the house and into the block on camp, my day consisted of getting up, going to work, getting back to my room and sitting doing nothing but falling deeper. I would see the kids at the weekend and take them out but I couldn't wait to take them home so I could be on my own again, this made me feel guilty which made everything worse.
I went to seek help from the doctor and a therapist who gave me things to try that might help, one of these was to find a hobby. Struggling to find anything remotely interesting i was still lost. One weekend we decided the girls would have a girly night and jack would come and stay with me for the night, I was getting things sorted when I came across an Airfix Typhoon with paints and glue, now it's probably been around 20 years since I last built a model but we decided to do it together, I was instantly hooked again.
I remember showing a picture of the model to a work mate who proceeded to tell me how crap it was, I agreed and this spurred me on to do better.
I found that spending the evenings building and painting gave me something other than how bad life was to concentrate on.
I soon began to feel more outgoing again, I found a local club, I made up with the wife and kids and moved back home. I started looking for work and found it.
Modelling really give me a means of relief and a creative output that I could see a finished result at a time when I felt like nothing was achievable.
I would encourage anyone who is feeling depressed to give modelling a go. Plus the really friendly and diverse Facebook groups, forums and model clubs means you will make new friends too!
Models for Heros is such a worthwhile cause that I know does and will help so many people."
joined us at the Tedworth house while their RRP. He had done some modelling but mostly painted figures and so was keen to get involved with our sessions in spite of his injuries. To sum up how he felt after the session, he wrote this beautiful poem.
Models for Heroes
Ive made a tiny model
But to me its rather huge
My mind is not quite what it was
Bad dreams come by deluge
To escape for just a moment
To see another world
To make that tiny model
To reach a netherworld
So grateful thanks for kindness
Your model helped my day
My journey for those moments
Took my mind far away
...was one of the first chaps to bravely step forward when Models for Heroes were looking for volunteers at Help for Heroes' Chavasse House. Peter had seen the potential that scale modelling has to help his brothers first hand.
"The first memory of modelling I remember was trying to build the Airfix HMS Victory in the late 80s with my Dad at the age of 5, which sadly ended up the floor in bits when mum knocked it of the shelf. Though upset it didn’t stop me building during my childhood which at the time I built mainly aircraft which dad would get for me from air shows we went to or from Woolworths with my pocket money.
Then in my teenage years I kind of gave up with the hobby in favour of computer games, girls, beer and nights out trying to be one of the cool kids. Though throughout that time I had a keen interest in military history, so the thought of modelling was still there just found no time to do it. So just kept my mind stimulated with History books and a heathy diet of war films.
Then in my early 20s I decided I wanted to be a soldier and joined the Royal Tank Regiment which I did in 2006 serving in the UK, Germany, Iraq, Canada and Afghanistan. Sadly that all came to end in November 2009 while I was in Afghanistan when the armoured vehicle I was driving hit a IED while I was on patrol, and sustained injuries in the blast
From then on I began my road to recovery which involved many operations to get me back on my feet again. It was during my release from Selly Oak after my return to the UK that I got to play with some plastic again in the form of a ‘joke present’ from mum and dad.
Just before I deployed I went with them for a trip to my favourite museum at Duxford just to have that last happy moment with them if something should happen to me. It’s a place I spent many an air show in my youth. Mum wanted to get me a trip in a Tiger month, though at the time I said no as I said I was coming home and will do as a birthday present on my return.
Well my luck ran out on my last patrol though I was lucky to get away with what happened. So that Christmas I was home I was handed a large present. Upon opening it was the Revell 1.32nd Tiger Moth! Though inside was a ticket for a flight in one at Duxford when I was ready.
That flight was some time way off in the future. So over that Christmas I built the kit plus a couple of others I bought from Hobby craft. (Well I did need to go there as well to get some paint for the Tiger moth!).
From then on I
was hooked again and during my first stint at Headly Court, I
mentioned to my OT that I got into it again. Very soon a small pile
of old Matchbox and Frog kits appeared in my bed space to have a go
at. The bug just grew and grew and it began to help me through the
dark times of my recovery as well as my physical injuries the mental
health effects of war started tapping me on the shoulder. Though it
prevented me being a soldier I didn’t want it to stop me carrying
on with my life.
So once I had left the Army in 2013, settled down with my wife and had a wonderful daughter. I needed to keep that black dog day away, so kept on with the plastic addiction, now I have a man cave where I can do my modelling and get away from the bad times and be in my ‘Happy Place’. And over the last couple years I have begun to improve my skills and even joined a local club which have been a great help and pushed me further with the hobby. Though I may be a little heathier in mind, my wallet isn’t!
I think Models for Heroes and what Malcolm has done is an amazing idea, and a great way to help with coping and overcoming the barriers of physical and mental health injures and the aid to the recovery process. It certainly helps stimulate the mind and takes those bad thoughts away for a short time and get the person to be in control and creative at the same time."
Royal Tank Regiment 2006-2013
© Models for Heroes 2017.
HMRC recognised charity EW71468 and Not for Profit Company 10855739
Registered office: 1 Harrier Road, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 4AB