A VETERAN who suffers with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is calling for a stricter regulation on the sales of fireworks.

Like many ex-servicemen, Thomas Houston, who lives in Butts Bridge, compares fireworks going off to explosions he faced in active duty.

The 41-year-old served as a lance corporal on tours in Northern Ireland in the 1990s before going to Iraq in seven months in 2003.

Dad-of-one Thomas said: “I find it really hard this time of year.

"On Bonfire night, some neighbours set some off and I covered myself up with pillows from 5.15pm so I could not hear all the banging.

"It has a massive impact on my family and I feel sorry for my daughter because I can't take her to see any shows.

"The smell after they go off reminds me of burning flesh from when I was in the army.

"It takes me back to memories I have such as one occasion in Iraq when an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) was fired at us and two people were killed.

"When there are organised displays I can prepare for them and put ear defenders on but fireworks are freely available to anyone now.

"I am hoping the law will change about that."

Thomas says he had to leave his job as a bus driver in April, which he had for six years, because of the effect his PTSD was having on him.

With the help of veterans charity Shoulder to Soldier, he managed to find employment at Bents Garden and Home in September.

He also works at the site of the charity's award-winning allotment project which is based at Bents.

Thomas added: "Last year the charity paid for me, my partner Michelle and our daughter to go away to a quiet cottage in Yorkshire for a few days while Bonfire Night was on.

"It is always nice to mix with the veterans who are involved with the charity too. The founder Linda Fisher has done a lot of work for me."

A petition asking for fireworks not to be sold to the public, and that they should only be used at licensed venues at displays, has attracted more than 220,000 signatures.