A CHARITY which helps injured veterans by giving them chances to take part in sport arranged for two major rugby trophies to go on show in Darlington.

Tommy Lowther runs Sporting Force, which recently moved from Newton Aycliffe to Darlington, and which has close links with sport clubs such as Newcastle Falcons.

To promote the forthcoming European Rugby Challenge Cup and the Heineken Champions Cup finals being held at St James' Park in Newcastle in May, the trophies for both were on display in Darlington town centre on Monday.

The move was arranged by Sporting Force, which was set up by veteran Mr Lowther five years ago. He was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder following a spell in Northern Ireland followed by service in the Metropolitan Police.

The charity helps injured and traumatised veterans access training opportunities in sport to help them find both employment opportunities and hobbies.

Mr Lowther, whose sister Cherylanne also works for the charity, said: "We do a lot of work with the Falcons, helping wounded soldiers. We have just been working on a level two rugby union coaching course with them.

"I started up the charity after I was diagnosed with PTSD myself and through that I thought I needed to do something.

"I set up the charity as a bit of a hobby and to keep me going and it quickly grew to the point where we had football clubs contacting us. There are now three of us working in the charity.

"We help them with everything from work placements to training in the professional sports industry."

He said soldiers and veterans with mental health conditions in particular could lose interest in things which they once enjoyed and the charity aimed to ignite renewed passion in sport.

Darren Greco, of the Falcons, said: "I think there is a lot of synergy between the forces and rugby such as teamwork, respect and resilience."

Sporting Force is part funded by Help for Heroes - a charity which helped Mr Lowther immeasurably – but he said they were looking for more corporate supporters to get involved and put their names against it. Volunteers are also needed to help with its Veterans Onside project, which is setting up veterans' football teams around the UK.