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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.”
100 riveting years of the RAF fly by in 10 minutes
SSAFA’s team of volunteers in Gloucestershire took time out from their monthly update meeting recently to help celebrate the centenary of the RAF.
The county became an important location for the RAF right from the formation of the Royal Flying Corps, during the First World War. By World War II its importance had grown and in the 1940s Gloucestershire was the site of more than 30 wartime airfields, camps and bases. Many were involved in notable World War II raids.
While today the number still operational is relatively small, a check on larger scale Ordnance Survey maps shows the site of many airstrips, runways and buildings from the past. A visit to this link will take anyone wanting to know more about the RAF in the county to an interesting web site about bases past and present. https://www.rafagloucester.com/rfc-raf-stations-gloucestershire
The picture shows ex RAF members of our group, after we’d all been given an interesting briefing on the Force’s first 100 years by our vice chairman, Wing Commander Hamilton Elliott.
His presentation also covered the important contribution made during WW2 by the Gloster Aircraft Company (formerly the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company). It built more than 1,000 Hurricanes and 3,000 Typhoons, as well the earlier Gladiator, the Meteor, which was the first jet powered fighter to enter active service with the RAF. and then the Javelin, which was in use from the 1950s to 1968.
BOXING DAY COMES EARLY FOR COUNTY FAMILIES IN NEED
Christmas day came early this year for 10 needy clients of the Gloucestershire branch of SSAFA, the country’s longest established charity giving help to former members of the armed forces and their families.
For the third year in succession it was working on a ‘hamper scamper’ with Cheltenham based CCP, (Caring for Communities and People) which aims to help deprived children, families in poverty, and people with other problems, such as homelessness.
Formed by a group of local businesses, CCP works during the year gathering together gifts to make up surprise food and gifts boxes which are then distributed to selected needy families in the county
Explained Hamilton Elliott, SSAFA’s vice chairman for Gloucestershire; “Christmas is the time of year when people requiring help often need it most. The weather is cold and damp, the costs of staying warm and dry are highest and there is added mental pressure on people who have little when they see others preparing for their own festivities.
“We ask all of our volunteers to nominate a selection of their most deserving clients and know from past experience working with CCP that a delivery of one of these hampers makes a major impact on the lives of the clients we have been helping at other times of the year. We try to ensure that the gifts for children are addressed by name so that each box is more meaningful and personalised.”
SSAFA JOINS FORCES WITH AGE UK TO PROVE THERE’S STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The Gloucestershire branches of SSAFA and Age UK have joined forces in a ground-breaking initiative to try and make the county the best in the country for veterans of the forces and pension-aged civilians to enjoy their retirement.
Following two years of planning and months of presentations to fund-holders, the two charities announced their plans to work together for the good of the growing number of elderly people in the area.
They believe that by working jointly and pooling resources, they will actually end up with a situation where two and two will make five, with each building on the other’s expertise.
Though both charities have specific aims to help make the lives of the elderly more comfortable and less stressful, there is not a lot of overlap in the specific assistance and support they provide. “We live in a very fast-changing world and have recognised that there are new, as well as traditional demands for our resources,” explains SSAFA’s Gloucestershire Chairman, Col Tony Singer, adding; “By collaborating with Age UK we believe we will be able to extend our reach and maximise the resources of both charities.”
Rob Fountain of Age UK added; “We have found that the work done by both of our teams is more complementary than competitive. With our long-term experience of helping and supporting the elderly in the community and SSAFA’s 132 years of assisting members of the forces and their families, we believe we will now have a much stronger team of volunteers, with greatly enhanced experience. Together that will enable potential clients to be given the advice and assistance they need more quickly than ever.
“Our aim now is to quickly build awareness of the enhanced aid we will be making available, with a support team which will help ensure Gloucestershire is one of the best places in the country for the elderly to live.”
Funding for the new work is being provided through the Ministry of Defence, using money being made available by the Chancellor from fines collected from banks which were involved in the Libor interest rate controversy.
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 *