Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Army veteran who couldn't afford Christmas presents for his children thanks people of Hull a year on

An army veteran from Hull, who hit rock bottom when he couldn't afford presents for his children last Christmas, has spoken of how a charity appeal helped him to turn his life around.

Collins Obeng, who's known to many as Obi, turned to alcohol after a former comrade's suicide in 2017 brought back painful memories of losing friends at war years earlier.

The 37-year-old served with 2nd Battalion The Rifles for seven years, going on two tours of Afghanistan in which he lost five close friends.

"People suffer in silence, so I want to just put it out there and say there is actually help and people actually care so talk about it. The more you voice it out, it becomes like there is a burden lifted."

– Collins 'Obi' Obeng, army veteran

After struggling with his mental health and alcoholism, the father-of-two found himself jobless and in trouble with police in December 2018.

Officers put him in touch with the Project Nova initiative, which supports veterans who have ended up in contact with the criminal justice system.

Hundreds of people donated gifts to an anonymous appeal set up by Project Nova, which helped him to get his life back on track.

"His children came up and said, 'Father Christmas is coming soon,' and I knew they weren't and it broke my heart, so there was no way I was breaking up for Christmas and we had to act and do something."

– Teresa Hodgson, regional coordinator at Project Nova

A year on, Obi has a job as a security guard and is speaking out to thank the people of Hull and urge fellow veterans to talk about their troubles.

He has organised a fundraising walk in aid of Walking with the Wounded, which starts from the Humber Bridge Visitor Centre car park on Saturday December 14 at 12noon. Click here for further information.