Generous members of the public have been rallying round to help a military veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The man has been living in a tent in the Mourne mountains for the past eight months after finding himself homeless.
Today (Tuesday), three car loads of supplies, collected in just five days, were delivered to MLA Doug Beattie’s Portadown office, and there are more to come.
The donations include non-perishable foodstuffs, sleeping bags and thermal roll mats, a warm jacket and other items of clothing, which will go to both the veteran and his family.
Mr Beattie revealed that the man, who does not wish to be identified but had been living outside Banbridge, will this week receive counselling for his condition.
The veteran, who has four children, suffers from hyper-vigilance, one of the symptoms of PTSD. Said Mr Beattie, “If a room has no windows he just won’t go in.”
When news of the man’s plight became known, members of the Portadown-based Valhalla Elite airsoft team sprang into action, offering their help.
Among them are brothers William and Wayne McClatchey, with William’s wife Chantelle also part of the organising effort.
She said, “We thought it was terrible for anyone to be living like that. Some people have gone out and bought clothing.”
Her brother-in-law Wayne said, “It is the public who should be praised for their help.”
Mr Beattie said, “He is a proud man and he knows people want to help him. He was nearly in tears when I told him about the response.
“He was diagnosed 13 years ago and has been on medication. His wife and children are desperate to have him home.
“In Northern Ireland we are not properly looking after people with PTSD and mental health issues.”
Support has also come from the owner of Black Skull Tactical Airsoft in Ballygawley, Colin, himself a PTSD sufferer.
He said, “I am an Iraq veteran and when I read about how this man was living it disgusted me, so I put up a post appealing for help.
“God knows how this guy is surviving, how he is keeping warm. If you were in this situation you would like to think someone would help you.
“I have a fantastic wife and I am receiving medical care but there are still days when I can’t eat or sleep. The response has been fantastic - amazing community spirit that has brought people together.”