WOUNDED veterans who have been using woodwork as part of their recovery have created a special crib scene carving for Christmas.

The former servicemen so impressed the Military Padre, the Rev Anne Freestone, when she visited the Help for Heroes northern Recovery Centre, Phoenix House, at Catterick, she asked them to do a scene for the Garrison Memorial Church. The wood crafters meet there once a week as part of their recovery process.

"I just happened to be in the art room one afternoon in September when the veterans were chiselling away and said how fabulous it would be if they could make something on a Christmas theme that I could display in the church," said Rev Freestone, Officiating Chaplain for 5 Armed Medical Regiment and the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit (MDHU), Northallerton, on Catterick Garrison.

Phoenix House volunteer Chris Morgan, who runs the group, suggested a nativity scene, and since then regulars Andy Lake, Ted Granger and Bob Taylor have been busy producing the pieces to feature in the scene.

All three veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, resulting from experiences during their years of service.

Mr Lake also has physical injuries - damage to his ankles, knees, hips and lower back as well as diabetes and thyroid problem.

"Woodworking is quite technical but when you are doing it, you are not thinking of the pain, disabilities or problems left at home but about what you are trying to achieve and the pleasure you will get out of the piece," he said.

As a result of the men's efforts, Rev Freestone has been presented with 13 pieces - a baby in a crib, Mary, Joseph, an angel, a star, a shepherd, a wise man, two sheep and a camel along with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

All will be set in a rustic stable made by Mr Morgan from hazel wood coppiced from Fox Glove Covet, the nature reserve on the Garrison.

"The whole set has taken my breath away , it's so lovely," said Rev Freestone.

"I am blown away by the effort involved, the men who have done it and the care that has been taken. It has made Christmas for me"

She is now planning to base her address on the making of the scene at her two Christmas services in the Garrison Memorial Church. These are on Wednesday, December 10 for the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit and Tuesday, December 16 for 5 Armed Medical Regiment.