Wingham Memorial Services Club donation to Art and Soul art therapy group for veterans

Wingham Memorial Services Club secretary manager Dan McCarthy hands over a cheque to Jillian Oliver of Art and Soul. The paintings behind them were created by veterans who are members of the art therapy group. Photo: Julia Driscoll
Wingham Memorial Services Club secretary manager Dan McCarthy hands over a cheque to Jillian Oliver of Art and Soul. The paintings behind them were created by veterans who are members of the art therapy group. Photo: Julia Driscoll

If you take a walk up Isabella Street, you'll find a window full of artworks next door to Lauder's Real Estate Agents, where the Anglican Op Shop used to be.

The artworks are by a group of individuals who come together once a fortnight to take part in Art and Soul - an art therapy group for returned servicemen and emergency services personnel who live with PTSD and depression. The group was started by local artists Ron Hindmarsh and Jillian Oliver, herself an ex-policewoman who lost an arm as a result of a past work injury.

Art is an expensive hobby, and providing supplies for the group, which currently consists of 10 men, even more so.

Art and Soul's coffers were boosted recently with a donation from Wingham Memorial Services Club of $500.

"The board was of the opinion that it's really good that there's an organisation out there doing something for our returned servicemen. So it was a no-brainer for the board to get behind it and support it as much as we can," Wingham Services Club secretary manager, Dean McCarthy said.

Dean is also encouraging the group to apply for funding when the Club Grants season comes around.

"It would be good if this group applies for that, because our Club is 100 per cent behind it so we can hopefully steer some more funding through to them," he said.

The Club's donation will enable the group to purchase more easels, plus paints in different mediums, brushes, turps, and backings and matts to frame some of the works.

Ron and Jillian started the group in 2018 with the aim of helping returned service and emergency service pesonnel to soclalise and find support from others who have similar issues.

When they all started they were all quite shy and reserved. And now they joke around like nothing else and carry on, and look after each other. It's fabulous.

Jillian Oliver

"When they all started they were all quite shy and reserved. And now they joke around like nothing else and carry on, and look after each other. It's fabulous," Jillian said.

"The reason we keep it to military personnel and emergency services personnel is because they have similar experiences and can understand PTSD and that kind of thing. They've been in situations that are simliar - obviously they are not going to be the same. The guys seem to be more at ease around that, because they also have that same sense of humour.

As well as giving support to each other, the act of painting and producing artworks is boosting self esteem. Some of the participants had never picked up a paintbrush before, but now they have loosened up enough to "get stuck into it".

They have sold a couple just by having them in the windows. I've had one couple come in and actually bought three paintings at once.

Jillian Oliver

"They have sold a couple just by having them in the windows. I've had one couple come in and actually bought three paintings at once. They wanted to come in and meet the guys as well," Jillian said.

"When they knew that they were selling some paintings they were so excited. And that's what it's about, too, is really building them up to deal with everything."

"On behalf of Art and Soul I thank Wingham Services Club very much for their assistance and I know "These guys have done so much for the community, it's nice for them to get something back."

Art and Soul meet every second Thursday at the shopfront next door to Lauders. For more information call Ron on 0409 507 362 or Jillian on 0428 146 210.

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