A former serviceman is bringing magic to other people’s lives after finding new friends at a Men’s Shed club in Lochaber.
Afghanistan veteran-turned-wand maker, Stuart Gallacher, 32, who lost both his legs in a blast while on duty in the war-torn country, has turned his hand to woodwork to rebuild his life in Fort William.
At an open day at the shed over the weekend, the skill-sharing organisation sold planters, benches, garden furniture and special items such as the Harry Potter-style wands which Mr Gallacher has been making.
He moved to Loch Eil from Catterick Garrison with his wife, Lisa, when he was medically retired from 1st Battalion Scots Guards in 2015.
And he revealed it wasn’t until he “pushed” himself to get out again and join a group of men – many of whom are at least twice his age – that he regained his exceptionally positive attitude to life.
In March, 2o13, Mr Gallacher was deployed to help close down a garrison in Afghanistan when he was injured. He was critically ill, and in an induced coma for 10 days – it was also initially thought that he had also lost the sight in his eye in the blast.
He said: “I had to learn to do absolutely everything again. And at times, that was very hard. I joined the army for a career, and I expected to be there for life.
“I started with the Men’s Shed because I was doing woodwork for myself at home alone, and I needed to get out the house and do something.
“It wasn’t easy at first, and I had to push myself to get out.”
Explaining that he had only recently arrived in Lochaber, he added: “I had started to feel alone and isolated.
“It can be difficult when you are a double amputee and you try to get to know people.
“But the men who attend the group just seemed to accept me. They have got a different attitude and they made me relax. I was very shy and reserved to begin with, but they just made me feel part of it.”
After his ordeal, he admitted there had been dark days, but his life has changed and he said:: “When people stare at me, I think ‘I must be a celebrity’.
Mr Gallacher’s wands were a sell-out success and he says more will be available soon.