Graham's focusing on the positives

Graham Young with his picture of a kingfisher, one of the beautiful images of wildlife at Pennington Flash Country Park in his new calendar

Veteran Graham Young has gone back to nature to help him recover from his frontline experiences.

And the results of his work are now raising money for charity in the form of a stunning wildlife calendar which is being snapped up by impressed friends and family.

Graham, who lives in Leigh, has captured a series of beautiful images of animals at popular local beauty spot Pennington Flash Country Park.

The best pictures have now gone into a calendar raising money for Shoulder to Soldier, a borough-based charity supporting those who have served in the armed forces.

Re-discovering his enthusiasm for photography over the past couple of years has proved extremely valuable for Graham after he struggled with the aftermath of his time on the front line.

He did tours of duty in Northern Ireland and also had a long spell in the prison service and can now be seen providing photographic records of events across the town.

Graham said: “Over the years I have suffered with bouts of depression and difficulties coping with life which I hid very well with my sense of humour.

“As time went on I withdrew from life and friends until two years ago in crisis I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“At this point my wife bought me a camera as in the past I had an interest in photography.

“This was a turning point in my life and has played a major part in my recovery.

“I am now approached to take photographs at events and for companies and I really enjoy this.”

The images, including ones of the beautiful and elusive kingfisher, have proved a hit with Shoulder to Soldier’s supporters, with 100 calendars sold in the first five days.

Originally from Culcheth, Graham signed up for the forces at 16 and trained to be a Grenadier Guard.

He travelled to Northern Ireland when he was still 17 and was allowed out onto the streets from his 18th birthday onwards.

As well as two tours of duty in the troubled province Graham also visited Sudan and Canada and did work at the United Nations.

He left the forces after eight years but found adapting to civvy street hard until he joined the prison service.

He went on to clock up 22 years in the role, winning four commendations including an outstanding achievement award for establishing special services at Strangeways for veterans in custody.

He eventually took early retirement in order to become a full-time carer for his mother-in-law who suffered from Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

Graham can be booked for photography work by emailing gyoung24433@blueyonder.co.uk or following him on Twitter @grahamyoungamateurphotos

To buy the calendar or find out more about it or the charity, visit www.shouldertosoldier.org.uk

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