1166. Barry John
Barry John MBE, from Haverfordwest, is an artist and former soldier who established the ‘VC Gallery’ studio in Pembrokeshire to support the welfare of veterans, and other members of the community facing issues of mental health and social isolation, through art.
Having spent 24 years serving in the British Armed Forces with the Royal Welsh Infantry, Barry used his passion for art as a response to conflict and experiences of PTSD, and realised a need in his community for other veterans to do the same. Using his army pension, Barry set up the ‘VC Gallery’ in 2014 to provide both a studio space and a welfare hub running regular workshops focusing on building self-confidence, new skills and social development, as well as offering a signposting and referral service. Over 1,500 people have since accessed the studio and its services, with a new hub established in Pembroke Dock in August 2018.
Barry was presented with his award by his local MP Stephen Crabb (pictured below).
In a personal letter to Barry, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Through the ‘VC Gallery’ you have created a wonderful initiative to provide vital welfare support to those who have, like you, sacrificed so much in the service of our country. Your passion for art is inspiring others to improve their skills and wellbeing, as well as offering an inclusive space for people who are feeling isolated. I wish you the very best in your continued work.”
“Receiving this award and a personal message from our Prime Minister was an amazing boost for the important work we do in West Wales. Our team of trustees, volunteers and members are extremely happy to have been recognised at the highest level for the Points of Light Award and we thank every third sector charity and organisations that we collaborate with to make a difference in Pembrokeshire.”