Veterans take to the stage in Tayside

Members of Stand Easy who performed in Tayside this week..
Members of Stand Easy who performed in Tayside this week..

Injured and sick veterans have been taking part in an innovative theatre production in Tayside.

Stand Easy uses theatre and drama as a means of recovery for wounded, injured and sick military personnel, building communication skills and positive mental health, raising self-confidence, motivation and self-esteem and giving participants more control over their lives and helping them make the transition from serving to civilian life.

The play is being performed this week at Monifeth Amateur Drama Club, Douglas Community Centre, Kirkton Community Centre and Charleston Community Centre.

Stand Easy – which is supported by Help for Heroes – worked with Veterans First Point Dundee and Fife, Combat Stress, Step Together, and Help for Heroes to recruit participants for the four-week drama project.

It has involved seven veterans, including Help for Heroes beneficiaries Jim Kettles and Arbroath veteran Billy Girdwood, while dozens more veterans contributed their personal experiences to the development of the play via social media.

The rehearsals were led by director Alan Cameron and film-maker Sandie Jamieson over three weeks and included one professional actor, and three drama students from the Dundee & Angus College, alongside the veterans.

End Ex: a story of transition focuses on the experience of leaving the forces and the challenges – both positive and negative, humorous and serious – of dealing with civilian life. It opened in Menzieshill Community Centre in Dundee and toured throughout Tayside last week.

Veteran Billy Girdwood, from Friockheim, near Arbroath, took part in Stand Easy’s pilot production last year and enjoyed it so much that he became the charity’s committee secretary. He is also acting in End Ex and has been invited to apply to study drama at Dundee & Angus College as a result.

Billy, 48, who served with the Royal Highland Fusiliers in Iraq, Northern Ireland and Bosnia, has suffered PTSD and chronic depression for more than a decade after leaving the forces. He said: “Before I had no inclination to do anything but doing this project has really helped me, its been very therapeutic.”