A BARRHEAD veteran is creating a memorial garden to honour former servicemen and women who have been lost to suicide.

James McEwan wants the space at the town’s Waterworks Community Garden to be a fitting tribute to troubled troops who tragically took their own lives.

The 64-year-old served with the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, now part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, in the 1970s, carrying out three tours in Northern Ireland.

READ MORE: Creative Barrhead schoolgirl delivers success in baby box design contest

He told the Barrhead News: “What spurred me on was one of my close friends passed away just over a year ago. He sent a message with a picture of himself with a wee whisky, like he did quite regularly, but he took his life that night.

“It was quite poignant because he was one of my closer friends. I was shocked. In fact, I still can’t believe he’s gone.”

For six years, James has been undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Barrhead News:

He believes the number of servicemen and women, as well as those who no longer serve, who are struggling to cope is a real concern.

“I came out of the military in 1978 and I’ve been under treatment with Combat Stress for six years for post-traumatic stress disorder,” said James.

“I was lucky because I was initially treated by RAMH (Recovery Across Mental Health) in Barrhead and they referred me to Combat Stress.

“They have been really good when it comes to helping me with my condition but PTSD is just a label. There are a lot of symptoms that sometimes can’t be recognised initially.”

James is being supported by members of the Waterworks Voluntary Group as the memorial garden takes shape.

READ MORE: Farmer shoots dogs after losing sheep in terrifying attack

He said that, while his initial idea was for the memorial to be in honour of servicemen and woman, he envisages it growing into a place where any local family that has lost a loved one to suicide can go to pay their respects.

James added: “Ultimately, the memorial garden isn’t going to be just for servicemen and women, it’s going to be a multi-theme memorial.

“I’ve spoken to so many people in the community who have lost family members.

“At the moment, we’ve got some planters and crosses that we’ve made up. Along with others in our group, we have been working on the project from last year and we’ve just recently been given two grants – one from East Renfrewshire Council and the other from Barrhead Housing Association – of £2,000 each.

“We’re hoping to add a memorial stone this year and finish landscaping the area. I would like to have the stone up before Remembrance Sunday because we’re planning a dedication ceremony.”