A former Army photographer suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder has completed his first photography project for several years thanks to Help for Heroes funding.
Simon Green, 43, has spent over six months capturing the people and places of Stanley, County Durham, a former mining town.
The project, commissioned by Stanley Fringe, will culminate in the premiere screening of the film This Is Stanley, at Stanley Civic Hall, at 7pm on Sunday July 31 – followed by a month-long exhibition at the venue.
This has all been made possible thanks to Help for Heroes granting £600 for new camera equipment.
Simon, who once taught surveillance photography to members of the special forces, left the Army in 2002 after nine years’ service, including stints in Northern Island and Bosnia.
He went on to build a successful photography business in Cornwall, but in 2011 was diagnosed with PTSD. Unable to work he was forced to close his business and returned to the North-East to find help.
He said the latest project had helped give him a new sense of purpose.
He said: “I was treated from the start with incredible friendliness. Without exception all those that I approached were willing to tell me their story, to talk about the past, present and future of the town.
“The older generations remember the mining town, a vibrant and thriving place with something for everyone: shops, cafes, dance halls. They remember it as a place that was forgotten about once the mines closed.
“The younger people remember a town that had little for them as they were growing up, but see it slowly improving thanks in part to the town’s excellent sporting facilities. Stanley has a long history of sporting prowess, boxers, runners, swimmers and the town is still producing successful athletes.
“Tied in with those things is the strong sense of community spirit, people supporting and helping each other.
“The film and exhibition gives an honest profile of Stanley from the perspective of the people who live and work in the town.”
Simon’s wife Suzanna spoke of the difference Help for Heroes support had made to Simon.
“With Help for Heroes support, Simon was able to get a new camera and some lighting equipment. Thanks to your help, Simon has been able to get back into photography in a fantastic way. I just want to say thank you for giving him the chance to enjoy photography again. It is such a joy to have him so enthusiastic about it again.”