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Gulf War veteran crafts Christmas baubles to deal with PTSD

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Media captionGulf War veteran Mike Kirkby makes 150 baubles every year as therapy for his PTSD.

A Gulf War veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has found a novel way to ease his symptoms - crafting Christmas baubles.

Mike Kirkby began making the baubles five years ago after seeing homemade efforts on social media.

He found the process a therapy for his flashbacks and makes about 150 baubles each Christmas for the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association.

"Without them I wouldn't be here," he said.

Mr Kirkby, 49, joined the Royal Corps of Transport as a driver in 1990 and was sent to the Gulf at the end of December that year.

"I get these images constantly, I can see images now, the nightmares, sometimes I don't sleep for three days," he said.

"I saw vehicles absolutely destroyed, obviously there were bodies, body parts that we had to bury."

Image caption Mike Kirkby says crafting helps him to relax

Mr Kirkby was inspired to begin crafting after his mother completed a course about five years ago and then saw baubles being made on various social media platforms.

"I have always loved sewing, needlework, it takes me away from all the flashbacks, the nightmares of what I have experienced out in the gulf," he said.

"I just try to make different designs up, make one side different to the other side, make them like Faberge eggs."

The completed baubles are handed over to the veterans charity, which sells them to raise funds in the run-up to Christmas.

"Without them I wouldn't be here. Three times they have helped me through suicidal scenarios," said Mr Kirkby.

"They provide full support, I can give them a ring at anytime of the day and I know someone will help."

Image caption The charity says Mike's decorations are always in demand

Maria Rusling, from the Hull-based charity, said when they sell the baubles they make it clear they have been made by a veteran and that it is his therapy.

"It gives him that focus and that makes them extra special," she said.

Ms Rusling said Christmas was a particularly difficult time for many of the Gulf War veterans.

"It's a reminder of where they were at this time of year because a lot of them were already out and getting prepared to go the gulf in 1990," she said.

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