HAUNTED by the horrors of war-torn Iraq, ex-soldier Peter Bolton struggled to adjust to life on civvy street.
Once the supportive army family was gone, the 32-year-old became withdrawn and started to drink, his first marriage collapsing in three months.
It took a wee while to settle into things and I spent a lot of time going out drinking”PETER BOLTON
But now happily remarried with two children, the former combat radio operator has been helping those facing similar problems get back on their feet by collecting for Poppy Scotland.
The security manager, from Balerno, who feels fortunate that he escaped injury and was able to get his life back on track, joined colleagues from Fountain Park Entertainment Centre this week to raise more than £200.
He said: “It may not have been apparent to the people around me but when I came out of the army in 2008 I struggled to adjust.
“It took me a wee while to settle into things and I spent a lot of time going out drinking – though I wouldn’t say I was an alcoholic.
“I couldn’t sit down and relax. I had to be on my feet doing things and I wasn’t getting the same challenges. What I saw out there was on my mind. I managed to put barriers up – and I still don’t talk about it.
“But compared with some of the others, I landed on my feet. I want to help other people [ex-servicemen and women] who haven’t sorted themselves out as well as I have.”
He was joined on the Royal Mile by Fountain Park colleagues from his security team, most of whom have also served in the military.
Among them were David Dalton, a 50-year-old former Royal Artillery staff sergeant from Niddrie, and Alfred Cummings, a 43-year-old former Royal Navy petty officer from Leith, Kevin MacDonald from Glasgow who served with Scotland’s Infantry Regiment and Fountain Park marketing manager Julie Goulden.
Peter said he had been “amazed” by the support in Edinburgh, adding: “I have been wearing my old regimental beret and a lot of people have come up to me, saying ‘Thank you very much for what you did’.”
Following their fundraising efforts, they were greeted by eight Aston Martins in the apron of Fountain Park to celebrate the new Bond Film Spectre. Later they were joined by army motorcyclists the Torn Army who had also been out collecting for Poppy Day.
Peter, who is originally from Dunbar, joined the Royal Corps of Signals-Communications Regiment in 2001 to experience adventure and excitement.
He went through basic training at Basingbourne followed by six months’ soldier training which tested his resilience and determination to the limit.
He was posted to Germany where he spent two years before he was sent out to Iraq.
They crossed the border at night when Britain and the US were carpet-bombing Basra, a deadly fireworks display lighting up the darkness.