A life-changing IED blast could have robbed Lance Corporal Wayne Sharrocks of his sight and even his life.
The 26-year-old was just a few paces behind a fellow soldier who stepped on a pressure pad that detonated a bomb in Afghanistan in 2011.
His comrade miraculously survived the blast but lost both legs, while Wayne suffered shrapnel wounds to his face and shoulders – his eyes were saved by protective goggles.
Wayne left the army in 2013, got a job in a factory and started making films as a hobby. But he soon fell into depression and his family sought counselling for him.
Now a Leeds Beckett University film student, he is fundraising in a bid to create a ‘Life After War’ documentary to encourage ex-soldiers to talk about their problems after leaving the forces, while highlighting existing support.
“The army is not just a job, it’s your life – it takes over every aspect,” he said. “Your day’s laid out for you and when you get out and all your support systems are gone, you feel isolated, you get down and your life starts getting out of control. When you’re in the army people struggle alone. It’s a macho environment.”
Upon leaving the forces two years after the bomb blast, Wayne’s facial wounds had healed but the scars of war on his mental wellbeing had not.
Despite having grown up in a military environment, following in the footsteps of his father’s career in the forces, the impact of the explosion made him reevaluate. He said: “When you are shown your own mortality you question what you are doing and what you want from your life.”
Wayne is now indulging his passion for film as a final year student at Leeds Beckett’s Northern Film School, while working part-time as a hospital porter in Harrogate.
Inspired by his experiences and by conversations with other ex-comrades who were suffering in silence, he is now hoping to create a film to tell the stories of veterans’ struggles and the support systems currently out there.
“The ultimate aim is to open up those communications,” he said. “This film could get other veterans talking to each other.”
Wayne launched his online crowdfunding campaign five years to the day since he was injured in Afghanistan.
The campaign to make his ‘Life After War’ film a reality is based around the need to raise at least £2,080 to pay for equipment and travel costs.
So far 28 people have donated around £1,700 to the filmmaker’s project. To donate visit kickstarter.com/projects/1236839879/life-after-war.