March 12, 2019 12.32 pm This story is over 56 months old

Navy veteran builds craft business with one arm

Turning a hobby into a business

A Lincolnshire Navy veteran has built a successful craft business with just one arm.

Russ Kirby, 57, had to leave the navy after four years when his arm was paralysed in a head on collision.

As a result of the accident, he wasn’t on the HMS Antrim with his friends when it was hit by a bomb which didn’t explode.

The dad of four went on to work in the animal feed industry for 33 years before he turned to a veteran’s charity for help.

He had recently started a hobby which he wanted to turn into a business, where he frames treasured possessions from wedding shoes to military medals.

With support from The Poppy Factory, Russ managed to turn his hobby into a thriving online business.

He turned to The Poppy Factory for help.

“I started communicating again with people I hadn’t seen for years,” Russ Kirby said. “They saw what I could do and the business really started to take off.

“I live in a two-bedroom terraced house and I have a table set up under the stairs, where there’s just enough room for me to work. Having to do everything with one arm is a skill in itself.

“I’ve mounted people’s medals, ceramic poppies from the Tower of London, complete uniforms. The history of some of these items is mind-boggling.

“It’s great to think that people are going to be looking at these things for years to come.”

The Poppy Factory helps ex-Forces men and women with mental and physical health conditions get back into work in their communities.

Since 2010, it has helped at least 55 wounded, injured and sick veterans in the East of England back to work.

Zarah Khan, Russ’s consultant at The Poppy Factory, said: “It has been such a pleasure to help Russ build the confidence and knowledge he needed to turn his hobby into a proper business.

“He’s a great example of a veteran enjoying success in a completely new line of work, no matter what physical or mental health condition they have.”