Veteran Aids Recovery by Carving Walking Sticks

VETERAN Dave Almond had devised his own therapy to cope with the after effects of a brain haemorrhage – he creates stunning bespoke walking sticks.

The snake sticks, called My-Stic, are all individually hand-crafted by recycling walking sticks he picks up at car boot sales and charity shops; no two are the same.

Dave, 49, has recently joined Haslingden-based charity Veterans In Communities where he is making use of their arts and crafts room and, once a workshop is built in the rear yard, he will be teaching others how to carve the sticks.

He said: “I joined the RAF Regiment in 1982 and suffered a brain haemorrhage in 1985 when I was in Germany. I had been training too hard.

“This left me in rehabilitation for a year or so at Headley Court.”

He was a Senior Aircraftsman and although he fought himself back to fitness, because of the brain injury he was not allowed to return to action and spent the last 18 months of service taking reconnaissance photographs.

His experiences left his with a weakness in his right side and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Dave said: “I managed everything and was working in security until in 1998 until I thought I had slipped a disc and then I found had damaged my back.

“I was having physiotherapy and they gave me a walking stick to use. My pride took over and I thought there was no way I was going to use a ‘granddad’ stick so I took it to my shed and carved it into a snake.”

Dave, from Accrington, kept on being stopped by people while he walked around his hometown and they wanted to know where he had got the walking stick from.

Four years ago he suffered a relapse, which further eradicated his motor skills making the need for therapy even more vital.

So he began making the sticks, because it helped him maintain movement in hand. He was also recommended to join VIC to help with his recovery.

“Coming to VIC has really helped me,” he said. “When you talk to some civilian therapists they do not understand what you are talking about and they do not understand our language.

“At VIC everyone understands each other because they are all ex-forces and we speak the same language. We all help each other out.”

Dave is a reiki master and so every My-Stic has crystals inserted into the eyes and mouth of the snake.

Most of the sticks are made from sweet chestnut or hazel but he also carved a natural curved bay twig and tree branches.

The sticks are being sold to benefit VIC and for more information contact 01706 833180.

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