Former RAF Police Dog Handler Finds Mindfulness Through Art

Jun 12, 2023

In a tale of personal transformation, David*, a former Royal Air Force Police Dog handler has discovered help through the power of painting during his time in prison. Having served just over nine years behind bars, David’s artistic talent has flourished, earning him recognition and prestigious awards.

David’s initial engagement with painting began in 2021 when encouraged by the prison education department he entered a painting into the esteemed Koestler Awards, an annual celebration of artwork created by individuals in prisons, detention centres and secure hospitals. David’s painting captured the attention of the judges and was awarded the prestigious Gold Award. This unexpected recognition not only boosted his confidence but also validated his newfound passion for art.

Encouraged by his initial success, David submitted a second painting to the Koestler Awards 2022 and drew further success gaining the Platinum Award.

For David painting became more than a hobby- it became a therapeutic outlet. He said “Painting helps me to clear my mind and find inner peace whilst in prison.”  Painting offers David an escape from the confines of his prison cell. Despite his self-professed role as his own worst critic, this self-imposed scrutiny motivated him to refine his skills and strive for continuous improvement. David draws inspiration from his military service to create paintings, which he donates to Care after Combat to  generate funds for the charity which helps towards supporting veterans in custody like himself.

As the Koestler Awards approach once again, David eagerly awaits the judgement of his latest works. This year, he has submitted five paintings that he feels reflect his growth as an artist.

Mick Ward, Regional Coordinator (Central West) and David’s mentor remarked ‘David is a talented individual, who shows great promise with his skills as an artist. He feels that by donating his paintings to the charity he is going someway to giving back for the support he has received. We would like to express our thanks to David for his support and generosity and wish David all the best with his upcoming Koestler Awards submissions.’


*Names have been changed