Veteran Shaun’s charity exhibition

A GULF War veteran, whose new found love of painting brought him back from the brink of suicide, is selling his artwork to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

Shaun Cole, 46, from Haughley, served on the front line in the first Gulf War with the Grenadier Guards.

But after leaving the Army, Shaun began suffering from acute depression and mobility problems, which he puts down to Gulf War Syndrome.

Shaun said after hitting rock bottom, he was referred by his GP to Combat Stress, a mental health charity for veterans, and took up painting.

Now his artwork is being displayed and sold at the Maxwell Charnley Room, in Haughley, until the end of the month to raise money for the Royal British Legion, which helped him to secure a home.

Shaun said although he hated art as a school subject, once getting painting bug he has never looked back.

He said: “I went down to Combat Stress about two years ago after a referral from my GP because my head was not in the right place. I was suffering from bad depression and was thinking about suicide.

“They used different therapies to help us and art was one of the most popular courses there.

“I had never really painted before but after some persuasion I decided to have a go – and have never stopped since.

“I love painting, I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t pick up a brush.”

On the first day of the exhibition, on Monday April 30, Shaun had sold 12 of his paintings, raising £500 for the Royal British Legion (RBL).

Shaun said the RBL was instrumental in helping him secure a council bungalow.

He said: “I still get massive depression but my painting gives me a goal.

“With my two children and my art it has given something to keep me going.”