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Monday to Friday 09.00-17.00 Contact by Email or Telephone only. For Tutshill, Sedbury, Beachley (Royal Forest of Dean) see Chepstow Gwent.
Phone: 01452 520 255
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KEEN ARMY CADETS MARK ARMISTICE DAY IN STYLE
Could these army cadets from Tetbury be SSAFA volunteers of the future? The creativity, enthusiasm and social skills they showed in advance of Armistice Day suggest the answer is yes.
To draw attention to this year’s Remembrance Day and the centenary of the ending of the First World War they invited members of the public to join them for an evening at their training hut in the town. The idea for the open evening came from Cpl Jake Walker, who also enlisted his grandmother to knit the poppies used in their 100 years banner display, which was spot lit so it could be seen from the main road that passes their HQ.
The event was attended by the town’s mayor and deputy mayor, as well as friends and families of the army cadets and said the platoon commander, Colour Sgt Kamila Gerbicka: “We have a great group of cadets in the town and there was 100 per cent involvement in the planning and running of the evening once the idea had been suggested. Guests were treated with a barbecue, vintage music and several displays showing the platoon’s activities and projects in recent years. Everyone who attended our event went away impressed by the initiative, enthusiasm and the social skills they had seen on display.”
The Gloucestershire branch of SSAFA had previously seen the troop in action when it helped at a fundraising evening held at Westonbirt School 18 month ago. Its members generated a similar positive reaction on that evening, convincing guests that the future of the country’s longest established armed forces charity will continue to be in good hands in future years.
REACHING OUT TO SAAFA SUPPORTERS AND THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED
Gloucestershire’s branch of SSAFA marked Armistice and Veteran’s Day by being out in force reaching supporters as well as Clients in November.
60 members of the Veterans in Prison Association mustered at HMP Ashfield for a salute, wreath laying and inauguration of a new forget-me-not memorial garden in the prison grounds. Our prison in-reach volunteer Peta Hoyle had arranged for Air Vice Marshal Sir Dusty Miller to take the salute on behalf of the Royal Air Force. Several of the inmates as well as guests, who included, the Hon Rupert Soames OBE, CEO of Serco, which runs the prison, added to the event by reading poems in honour of those who had served in the past.
Later in the month our branch secretary, Dick Blakermore helped fly the flag for SSAFA while manning a display to help widen awareness of our work in the region. It was the 2nd time in recent years that we had been invited to participate at a Chepstow race course meeting.
One of the main features this year was a presentation featuring some of the 72,396 shrouded figures which had each been hand made by Somerset artist Rob Heard. In advance of Armistice day they had all been on display in London’s Olympic Park. There was one to commemorate each person to have died in the Somme area during the First World War.
“The London display was a graphic demonstration of the scale of lives lost in a single area of World War One,” said Dick. “Our presentation was only a fragment of the one in Olympic Park, but it did bring home to the people who saw it what a sacrifice had been made in the 5 years of the Great War. It also helped to underline why SSAFA’s work is equally necessary to support the members of our forces and the families who have been involved in, or affected by more recent conflicts.”
SSAFA VOLUNTEER PETA SHOWS THE HIGH SHERIFF LIFE BEHIND BARS
Even the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire isn’t normally guaranteed a full house when he is asked to speak in the County, but there were no empty seats for a recent talk he gave for our volunteer Peta Hoyle…
Peta is SSAFA’s “Prisoner In-Reach” visitor, whose casework involves giving help, advice and counsel to veterans who have ended up serving time behind bars. She asked High Sheriff Charles Martell if he would like to be a guest of Vicky Pails, director of HMP Ashfield and her deputy, Anne-Marie Newman, to speak to the 82 members of its Veterans in Prison Association to mark Armed Forces Day.
It turned out to be a double first -- the first time the High Sheriff had been given such an invitation as well as the first time SSAFA in Gloucestershire had organised an event to mark Armed Forces Day when none of the audience could leave! Though historically the Sheriffs were responsible for maintaining law and order in their county, these days being a High Sheriff is a non-political, Royal appointment, with a focus on encouraging crime prevention and community cohesion.
As Peta explained after the visit: “Many High Sheriffs place a focus on work with young people; voluntary groups, like SSAFA, and crime reduction. As Sheriffs hold their honorary position for just a year it seemed to the prison officers I work with and myself that the visit would be beneficial for everyone concerned and that’s the way it turned out. Charles Martell was surprised by how many veterans there were at Ashfield and the prison leaders were very enthusiastic about introducing him to their work and enabling the prisoners to hear what he had to say.”
COME AND JOIN THE ENCORE FOR BLENHEIM PALACE PROMS
The Battle Proms evening that was held in the grounds of Blenheim Palace last summer proved so popular that the team staging it has lined up an encore for this July.…and once again SSAFA supporters who book tickets early will be able to buy them at a disc
The Proms at the Albert Hall in London are well established as being one of the fastest selling entertainment events of the summer season. With a full orchestra to provide the music at Blenheim, plus a Spitfire fly-by, cavalry display providing added colour and entertainment and fireworks to produce a dramatic end to the evening it looks like the Oxfordshire event is turning into a similar success story.
One thing Blenheim offers which out-does the Albert Hall though is the setting – attending includes the opportunity to start the evening with a picnic in the grounds of one of the country’s most important historical country houses.
The diary date for this year’s prom is Saturday July 6th and by booking before April 30th at www.battlerproms.com the ticket price will be £37.0 instead the £45 charge for an adult ticket bought on the day. There are discounts as well for children, groups and forces personnel. (full details on the battleproms.com web site)
The organisers have chosen to help use the event to support SSAFA’s work, so there will be a donation made to the country’s longest established armed service charity for each ticket sold. It should be a great evening, with memorable entertainment and what’s more, by attending you will be helping SSAFA continue its 140 year history of lending a helping hand to those who have helped serve our country.
ARMY VETERAN BILL SAYS THREE CHEERS FOR JOINING FORCES
Living ‘off grid’ without mains gas or electricity might seem adventurous when your young, but it isn’t all that much fun when you’re a force’s veteran heading towards his 9th decade…
That’s what our Joining Forces team thought when they heard from colleagues in Age UK that Gloucestershire veteran Bill Spalding was facing the winter in a home with no mains gas, electricity or working cooker.
Providing the right help to bring Bill’s living conditions into the 21st century wasn’t a problem that our volunteers come across every day of the week, but working together, SSAFA and Age UK have now organised the installation of a new LPG fuelled cooker for Bill, along with an electricity generator to power lighting and other appliances.
An ex-Gloucester Rugby player and member of the Royal Army Service Corp, Bill is now not only able to invite the two volunteers who gave him a helping hand to tea, he can also follow the Six Nations rugby tournament, one of his favourite sporting events, on television!
The wood-burning stove that had been providing heating for his house is still doing a great job at keeping him warm, but being able to easily turn on his new oven for a morning cuppa gives a much better start to his day.
“Bill is one of those people who has become used to looking after himself and doesn’t readily ask others for help,” says SSAFA volunteer Emlyn Phennah. “His independence means he is the type of person who can easily slip through the normal social security net. By working together with Age UK, who came across his situation, we have been able to show that Joining Forces isn’t just a concept, or slogan, it’s the basis of teamwork doing real good for our veterans.
In this case our Age UK partners have been able to provide a forces veteran with valuable advice and assistance and we have been able to organise funding to give him a much better lifestyle in his later years.”
THERE’S A FAST-GROWING TASTE FOR VETERAN’S BREAKFASTS
Former members of the armed forces living in Gloucestershire have developed a fast-growing taste for starting the day with old comrades, thanks to the growing number of veteran’s breakfasts being supported by Joining Forces,
Involvement in the events was one of the first joint activities to be developed when SSAFA and Age UK began working in partnership, aiming to give support to ex-servicemen living in the county.
With funding provided by the MOD, the Joining Forces objective is for both charities to combine their individual knowledge, experience and expertise to help ensure that former forces personnel receive the benefits, help and support they deserve, whether they were based at home or abroad.
One thing the team from both organisations quickly discovered was that the strong comradeship of forces life is a key feature of the Services that many miss the most. This has been underlined by the fast-growing demand for the veteran’s events.
From a small start of just a handful of get-togethers, there are now 10 breakfast events being held across the county each month. They range in timing from the first Saturday in Lydney to the last Saturday in Gloucester, and from Coleford in the Forest of Dean to Cirencester in the South East. Their main aim is to provide positive comradeship, good conversation and a great reason to get together on a regular basis. If you haven’t been along to one yet you can check all the venues and dates on the SSAFA Gloucestershire and AGE UK Facebook pages.
If there isn’t a date or location that suits keep checking for more news. As there are still gaps to be filled, plans are already being finalised to launch an 11th venue in the north, the aim being to cut down on travelling distance for veterans who currently have to drive to reach their nearest event.
WHY NOT COME AND JOIN US?
In our local community there are men and women who served their country well and have now fallen on hard times. SSAFA’s purpose is to be there to lend a helping hand to those who need it most. We are always keen to find new volunteers
Our assistance ranges from visiting isolated veterans in their homes to providing support to those with housing needs; accessing funds for house adaptations for service men or women injured whilst fighting for their country, to sourcing invalid aids needed by veterans who have answered their country’s call for help, but now need someone to respond to their needs.
The work of SSAFA volunteers can be uplifting, rewarding and to our clients, truly life changing.
SSAFA Gloucestershire is one of many branches in need of new volunteers to join our dedicated team. Our aim is to ensure that no call for help goes unanswered. Be a veteran’s hero. Join us as a volunteer today: https://buff.ly/2l7ziql
JOINING FORCES LIVES UP TO ITS NAME IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE
‘Joining Forces’, the collaboration project formed by the Gloucestershire branch of SSAFA, the armed forces charity, and Age UK is living up to its name with regular participation in Veterans Breakfast Clubs and other events in the county.
The clubs are a great way for comrades old and new to get together on a regular basis to share company, swap stories and memories and meet like-minded people in pleasant environments.
Currently there are four meetings in Gloucestershire each month. To make them accessible to as many veterans as possible they are spread throughout the county, from Goodrich to Gloucester, Lydney to Tewksbury. They take place on consecutive Saturday mornings, from 9.30 to 11.30.
In addition, the Joining Forces team of volunteers periodically organise special events, such as a recent visit to The Soldiers of Gloucester Museum, at Gloucester Quays. This included free entry and a mid-morning coffee and biscuits snack.
There were representatives in attendance from SAAFA and the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as Help The Aged, ready to provide assistance and advice to any of the county’s veterans who wanted to take advantage of it.
Keep checking the SSAFA Gloucestershire web site and our frequently-updated Facebook page if you’d like to be involved or hear about future events.
Current Breakfast club meetings are: -
Ist Saturday of the Month
Old Royal British Legion Club, Lydney
2nd Saturday of the Month
Royal Hop Pole Hotel, Tewkesbury
3rd Saturday of the Month
Cross Keys Public House, Goodrich
4th Saturday of the Month
The Toby Carvery, Brockworth, Gloucester
* See Facebook & Twitter for Information on Stroud's first Breakfast Club meeting *