WAR veteran Rob Fenton didn’t leave his home for 17months after suffering a post-traumatic stress attack.

Now he is using his ordeal to help others who suffer from the condition.

The 69-year-old, who did national services as a bomb disposal soldier during the Rhodesian Bush War, moved to Swindon from South Africa in 2009.

He was struggling with PTSD and stress at work which led to him contemplating taking his own life.

“If I didn’t get out of Africa it was lose my life or lose my mind,” he told the Advertiser.

Then in 2016 he found himself running for cover and trying to hide under a car after an air ambulance flew overhead.

It was the start of 17 months of virtual imprisonment in his Taw Hill home, too scared to go outside or have people visit.

“I lost nearly two years of my life after that set back. There were tears, heartache and I lost all self-respect,” he said.

“When you are scared of everything it is extremely difficult to convince yourself that everything is okay.

“The love for my Judy who has been my champion, as well as my kids, has stopped me from taking my life.

“But I clawed myself back from rock bottom and now me and my wife help others with mental health issues.”

Rob was called up into the Rhodesian army when he was 20 and was posted into the royal engineers where he was made to learn about bomb disposal.

He had started his working life as a bank clerk.

But as a conscripted soldier he was sent out to carry out the dangerous task of clearing land mines, searching up to 10 miles per day.

His job also involved making sure the drinking water supply from dams in the area was tested regularly and safe for the public to drink.

“I was always on edge at that time of my life,” said Rob.

He has been told by experts he has seen that his battle with mental health problems can be traced back to when he was just 16 and was involved in a car crash that led to the death of his girlfriend at the time.

Like many post-traumatic stress sufferers, he did not immediately fall prey to fits of uncontrollable panic and anxiety.

After more than two decades however, the condition kicked in unexpectedly and all of Rob’s past traumas started to overwhelm him.

He began experiencing flashbacks which left him in such an unstable state he eventually had to stop working.

As things got worse he was referred to Sandalwood Court, in Highworth, which treats people with mental health problems.

It was through this referral that the veteran met professor Gordon Turnbull, a psychiatrist and expert on post-traumatic stress disorder, who has helped him get his life back on track.

Rob said: “I’ve been through hell and back and I still have bad days, but I cope with them better. I have dedicated the year of 2018 the year of Robbie and Judy.”

This year he has been helping others who are going through trauma and mental health problems. He has also become an ambassador for Swindon group Twigs.

The organisation helps those who are struggling with their mental health by providing them with therapeutic work in gardening and crafts at its centre in Cheney Manor.

Rob has also been helping to put together Swindon Trauma Group’s ninth annual conference which will take place at the Marriott Hotel on Friday October 5.