Falkirk ex-servicemen to perform in Veterans Scotland production

Stand Easy actors and actresses have been hard at work during rehearsals
Stand Easy actors and actresses have been hard at work during rehearsals

Two Falkirk veterans will star in an innovative theatre production aimed at tackling isolation among ex-servicemen and women.

Jim Kettles and Billy McWilliam, members of Help for Heroes’ Band of Brothers support network, are preparing to take to the stage at Stirling’s Macrobert Arts Centre for a show the facility has created in partnership with the Armed Services Advice Project and Stand Easy Productions.

The drama, which will be performed tomorrow (Friday) night, is the product of a three-week Veterans Scotland initiative.

The project’s main goal is to help participants make the transition from serving to civilian life by allowing veterans to talk and listen to one another in a creative and safe environment.

Based primarily on the experiences of a 68-year-old naval veteran who served in Aden, Yemen, the show will be performed by a small group of former forces’ personnel and volunteer actors from Stirling University for an invited audience of family and friends.

Jim, who also took part in a similar Stand Easy production in Tayside last year, said: “This is the second time around for me and this time I’ve come on board as a mentor offering encouragement and support. 

“This gives me great satisfaction in being able to give back a little something I gained from last time: a sense of belonging, letting them know and understand what veterans like myself are going through.”

Billy added: “This has been a great opportunity to do something that has been so comfortable and easy-going. 

“I’m doing something I never thought I could ever do.  The people who have been involved have been a credit. A big thanks to Alan, Ainsley and Hannah.”

Stand Easy uses theatre and drama as a means of recovery for wounded, injured and sick military personnel.

Director Alan Cameron said: “The most difficult part of the whole process is always persuading veterans that this really is something they will enjoy and get a lot out of.  “This group, like all the veterans we work with, has been a joy.

“Over the past three weeks we have worked to bring the group together, teach drama, music and improvisation skills, devise the words for the play and one of the songs we are performing.

“The play is based on the stories of an Aden veteran and deals with the way that past events can hit a veteran later in life, and the difficulties that can ensue for the veteran and their families. 

“The subject is of course serious, but, believe me, some of it has been hilarious in the making and this will come across as well.”