The Club Room
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The section that’s just for you, the Model Rail reader. Includes Exhibition Diary.
If every reader of Model Rail were to write about why they built their railway, the answers would probably be endless. But one word would probably appear more often than you might expect: ‘escapism’. We all need to have some escape from our busy lives, even if just for a few moments, but just for a minute consider those less fortunate. There are many former servicemen and women who continue to suffer from the physical and mental trauma of war. For some, the mental scars are almost impossible to escape. Many become housebound through fear of what could be beyond the front door. Merely going outside is often fraught with anxiety and fear, and needs to be carefully planned. Nearly all those who suffer agree that being in a safe and sterile environment alongside other sufferers is usually the only time they can come close to relaxing. Models for Heroes provides that environment and allows those who have often given everything they have the ability to relax and, for those brief moments, unburden their minds. Barely six months old, the charity relies on the hugely generous public to donate models, equipment, paints and everything they need to help and discourage isolation. Several of those who suffered injuries are no longer able to work and money is often not so readily available; modelling of any sort can be an expense they can ill afford. They are encouraged to work on whatever they can from the donations, as well as the equipment bought from monetary donations. Models for Heroes tries to maintain as wide a range as possible, from military models to railway locomotives and track – although there’s not a lot of the latter, owing to the financial costs. The charity has to cater for everyone, and that sometimes means that some areas are sorely lacking. You may be wondering how it all works and how you can help. It’s a small charity, but Models for Heroes tries to cover as much of the country as possible and has recently opened a small branch in Northern Ireland. It provides models and equipment plus assistance at various recovery centres used by Help for Heroes and Combat Stress. It has also broadened its scope by venturing into other areas where and when it can, such as modelling at selected Mind charity centres. The modelling sessions can be as short as an hour or last all afternoon, and the completed models can be added to a larger diorama/railway, or simply taken home. The charity does not provide any material to be taken away to work on, as that then negates the ‘sterile’ environment and encouragement to leave the home once more. The charity is always happy to accept anything to do with modelling, including vouchers for Airfix Flying Hours. All donations will be used and nothing is ever discarded or sold on. So what are the injured veterans getting from this and how does it help, aside from getting them out of the house and into a more relaxing environment? Well, let’s rewind for a second and think about that word, ‘escapism’. Those few hours of building, painting and, in some cases, driving things they have created help focus the brain. That focus can sometimes be extremely tiring but also very rewarding, as it usually isn’t until the session is over that the veteran realises just how those last few hours were uncomplicated mentally, and just how rewarding the process has been. That then drives the determination to return, and so the long-term plan would be to open long-standing clubs; a monthly club has already been set up at the home of Help for Heroes in Wiltshire. Some of the veterans continue with the hobby at home, while some offer to return and help others learn to build, but this can only continue if it’s supported by model and railway enthusiasts and the commercial sector. This project was conceived by Malcolm Childs, who works tirelessly in his own time to manage, distribute, mentor and instruct, all the while working on his own modelling, and somehow fitting in the time to be a father and a husband. Please consider helping Models for Heroes in whatever way you can. For more information please visit www.modelsforheroes.co.uk, where you’ll be able to discover more about how you can help or get involved.
Modelling therapy in action.