Three years after Martin Maycock left the Army, he was standing in his front garden wondering why he did not feel right.

Although he has never had a condition like PTSD diagnosed, he knew his time in service had affected him.

He was deployed in Northern Ireland and watched casualties from the Omagh Bombing being brought to his location; in Kosovo he worked on night operations with Italian special forces to arrest war criminals.

And he remembers one time in Kenya when he and a friend were “nearly dinner” after they had called control to be picked up.

He said: “We were doing live firing range control and it got dark.

“As it got darker, we could hear baboons and we were thinking they were going to rip us to shreds.

“We got word that the Land Rover would be imminent, and when it arrived we quickly got ourselves in the back of the vehicle.

“Maybe 50 yards down the track there was a pride of lions coming towards us.

“We looked at each other and started laughing, but afterwards I thought ‘bloody hell – that was a close one’.

During a live firing exercise in Canada, a Challenger 2 tank mistook a Warrior for a target and blew it up; three of the five crew died.

Martin, now 42, said: “The next day we held a remembrance service for them.

“Because you’re programmed to be a soldier, we fell back on what’s called ‘squaddie humour’ – it’s black comedy, a kind of perverse medicine.”

And this bottled-up emotion came to a head while Martin was cutting the grass in his front garden three years after leaving the Army.

He stood there, confused and unsure of himself.

He said: “I thought ‘what’s going on?’ Why am I not full of energy?”

Although both Martin and the Army knew he was going to leave in 2005, he was still primed for deployment in Iraq with the rest of his battalion.

He was, in his words, “ready for war”, which hampered his return to civilian life .

“I feel that I had some kind of complex PTSD, that showed itself after I left,” he said.

“I kind of deliberately took my hands off the wheel and allowed my life to just crash. I ended up with nothing but two bags, at a hostel in London.”

In the years that followed, Martin struggled with online gambling and cannabis – but kicked the habits by slowly dialling them back.

He said: “It’s like building a house with good foundations: I realised I needed to build my life in the same manner.

“I had a lot to unravel. By 2015 I was just starting to come out of the worst of it.

“I became more mindful and more aware of what I had been through, and who I was and where I needed to be.”

And now he works at the Poppy Factory in Richmond, which was recently awarded the freedom of the borough by the council, making wreaths for Remembrance services.

The factory makes wreaths for Remembrance services, and helps veterans with injuries and other conditions into employment. It's done that for nearly 100 years.

Martin said the sense of community in the workforce is invaluable.

He said: “People can come together and help each other. There are times when colleagues are low, and just by sending a text with some positive affirmations you can really help.

“We are there for each other.”

But Martin does not regret joining the Army, and spoke excitedly about the sports he excelled in during his time there – including when he sailed a leg of the Tall Ships race in 2000.

And his best time was while he was part of the signals platoon in the Staffordshire Regiment, setting up and maintaining communications systems, and giving lectures to people many ranks higher than him.

He said: “I wouldn’t change anything, because it’s made me who I am today and I’m happy.”

And working at the Poppy Factory has given him a “sound platform” to build on.

He said: “I’m being looked after here very well. Now I can actually move on with my life at a nice, steady pace.

“To be here with the people who are around me is special.

“On a good note, I hope that when I leave someone comes in and utilises this job in the way that I believe it’s set up to do.”