A bench commemorating a popular golf club member has been lovingly restored by a former RAF helicopter pilot as part of his rehabilitation after suffering a brain injury.

Phil Williams has been developing a range of woodwork skills with The Viking Boat Company, in Darlington, as part of his therapy.

And, for his latest project, Phil was given the challenge of restoring the bench, in memory of Mel Dinsdale, at Catterick Golf Club.

Mel’s daughter, Kath, was among those who gathered for the handover of the restored bench and to hear Phil deliver a moving speech.

The Viking Boat Company, formerly known as Plane Sailing, is a community interest company (CIC), established to help former members of the armed forces suffering from conditions including Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

The CIC’s biggest project is to build a replica of a Viking Longboat, which is on schedule to be launched next Summer.

Bob Marshall, founder of The Viking Boat Company said: “When we were asked for assistance by members of Catterick Golf Club, we gladly accepted the challenge, not just as a favour to old friends, but to use the bench as another teaching opportunity for Phil.

“It’s fair to say the bench had seen better days. A new front section was needed, which Phil manufactured and fitted. Then came the task of cabinet-scraping everything back to bare wood, followed by a light sanding, and applying several coats of finishing oil. The bench has the hallmark of a sound restoration, by looking great while retaining its original character.”

Phil, from Bury, said: “The Viking Boat Company has become an important part of my life, allowing me to share my achievements with my family, and I love working alongside like-minded people.”

Marion Palmer, President of Catterick Golf Club, said: “We are thrilled with the quality of Phil’s work and can’t thank The Viking Boat Company enough.”