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Issue 25 September 2012

Raising awareness of the range of help and advice available to veterans

Bomber Command Remembered

Service Personnel & Veterans Agency


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September 2012 Issue 25


Accessing Help How Scottish veterans are being supported


Making the Covenant real First year of the Covenant yielding results

12-13 Creating Employment Opportunities The Poppy Factory’s career support package


20-21 Pioneers From First World War to present day, Queen Alexandria Hospital Home’s rehabilitation work with veterans continues


Ready to Help SPVA’s new dedicated bereavement line

Regulars 4-5 25

News in Brief SPVA News



Front cover: Bomber Command veteran Alan Biffen, see page 5. The content of Veterans WORLD is provided to raise awareness of help, advice and support available to the veterans community. Publication of articles on services provided or developments affecting the veterans community does not mean that they are endorsed by Veterans WORLD or the Ministry of Defence.

For advertising opportunities please contact: Veterans WORLD is distributed to those who work in an advisory role. Managing Editor: Laurie Manton Editor: Clare Ellis Email: Want to make an editorial contribution? Contributions are most welcome. To raise awareness of an initiative, scheme or organisation that offers help, advice or support to veterans, contact the Editorial Team by Email: or by calling: 01253 338816 For distribution enquiries Email: or call: 01253 338811 © Crown copyright 2012

Issue 25 September 2012

22 3

News in brief Royal support for the national campaign to reduce war memorial theft In Memoriam 2014 was delighted to welcome War Memorials Trust’s Patron The Duchess of Cornwall to the Royal Artillery Memorial. She marked the memorial with SmartWater as part of a national campaign to protect war memorials.

thieves and vandals attempting to steal metal from monuments. Despite the metal having relatively little monetary value it is estimated that on average one war memorial a week is being targeted by thieves looking to illegally remove bronze, copper or other metals to sell on for scrap.

In Memoriam 2014 is a partnership between War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation to provide greater protection to war memorials across the UK. Each sculpture and plaque on memorials will be forensically marked with SmartWater, giving them a state‐of‐the‐art forensic signature that can only be seen under UV light. Once applied, SmartWater is virtually impossible to remove and can withstand burning, sand blasting and long term exposure to UV.

In Memoriam 2014 was launched to coincide with the forthcoming centenary of the First World War. The nation’s valued war memorials are under increasing threat from

The Duchess of Cornwall marks the Royal Artillery war memorial

New theatre partnerships benefits veterans The Combat Veteran Players are also now part of the RSC Open Stages programme and will benefit from world-class acting workshops and stage combat training. This partnership will run alongside the staging of Henry V.

The Combat Players in rehearsal

The Combat Veteran Players, a theatre company comprised entirely of veterans performing Shakespeare while overcoming mental trauma, has announced partnerships with The Old Vic Tunnels and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Open Stages. Following a well-received closed performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at London’s Old Vic Tunnels in March, the Combat Veteran Players are now in residence at The Old Vic Tunnels for the next three years. Open performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream took place in July, and immediate plans include the opening of Henry V in October, with future productions to be announced.


Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) has produced a short film about LifeWorks, an innovative work-focused assessment and employability course for the Armed Forces Community that includes follow-up information, advice and guidance and ongoing support to set the delegates on the right track in the world of civilian work. In this new short film, RBLI aims to give potential delegates a feel for what to expect during the LifeWorks course. You can view the film Equipping You For The Journey on YouTube The film is available to view on RBLI’s YouTube channel:

Myhealthlondon offers new one-stop-shop for veterans Image credit Duncan Soar Photography

Launched in 2011, In Memoriam 2014 is offering SmartWater free of charge to the custodians of the estimated 100,000 war memorials across the country. Many war memorials have already been protected and In Memoriam 2014 is calling upon anyone yet to take up this offer to ensure their war memorial is protected.

Anyone wishing to take part in this project or register a war memorial can visit for more information.

LifeWorks video

A new one-stop-shop for veterans in the capital was been launched by the award winning Myhealthlondon. The new online service brings together for the first time, information in one place on all the help, advice and support available to ex-Servicemen and women and their families in the London area. The new Myhealthlondon webpage covers four specific areas – welfare, health, housing and general help and support – and has been developed to provide a single point where veterans can see and access the range of support services available to them. The website offers links to the many different services that work with veterans across London and will be kept regularly updated with news and features on the support available.

Ed Tytherleigh, Chief Executive Kevin Alderton, a former army officer who in partnership with healthcare professionals and of Stoll, which supports Combat Veteran Players, said: charities has led the development of this new resource said: “When on the stage, the “This easy to use webpage provides veterans with actors become just that – actors – leaving behind their information about the numerous support services available to them with details about who to contact backgrounds and issues. The benefits of taking part in the for further information about accessing these services. It fills a void in the information available and I hope it group have been clear and I will prove to be a valuable resource for our forces am delighted that the partnerships with The Old Vic veterans and their families.” Tunnels – giving the company a ‘home’ – and the RSC Open Stage – giving them coaching – will help the actors to move onto the next level.” For The Old Vic Tunnels, the partnership will enable them to support a company that would not otherwise have access to a public stage. Information about performances by the Combat Veteran Players will be available from and tickets can be booked online or by calling 0844 871 7628 or visiting

Editor’s Note: Correction for the Education opportunity for Service families’ article published on page 21 in Veterans WORLD Issue 24. The article contained inconsistent references to the rank of the late Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe. We apologise for this error and the online and audio versions of Veterans WORLD have been corrected.

Veterans wanted for new rugby club A new Rugby Union Club has been founded in the Wigan area. The Military & Military Veterans' RUFC is open to men who have served in the HM Armed Forces and members of Territorial and Reserve Forces. People with little or no experience are welcome to join, as a high standard of coaching will be provided by the club.  The club has highly qualified coaches, who will be assisted by very experienced players and former players which is supported by Wigan Council, who is providing the facilities.

Bomber Command Memorial The Memorial to commemorate the loss of 55,573 Bomber Command airmen in the Second World War was unveiled in Green Park, London, on June 28, 2012. The event brought together thousands of Bomber Command veterans, widows and family members from all over the world, to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of their lost relatives and comrades. The Memorial also commemorates the people of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing campaigns of 1939-1945, with an inscription remembering that loss.

The club will provide an opportunity for veterans to become part of a team again, and to socialise with other veterans and their families. It’s already making a huge difference to the lives of some of its members. For more information, call Stephen Hawkins, Chairman of the Club on 07968 928739 or email or visit

A quarter of a million people use award winning Tell Us Once Service Bereavement is a time people should be spending with their family and friends, not navigating government red tape. The Tell Us Once service recently won the prestigious Virgin Media/Guardian ‘Innovation Nation Award’ for delivery of frontline services. It has been hugely popular with the public who voted in droves for the service to win. The Tell Us Once service allows people to notify key local and central government departments and services of a death (or birth). The service is now available in over 80 per cent of Local Authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. As well as a face to face and telephony service, there is an online option as well. The death must be registered before the Tell Us Once service can be used. Tell Us Once informs up to 28 services in central and local government including the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency who use the information to update War Pension Scheme records. More information about Tell Us Once is available at:

Issue 25 September 2012

Sometimes I look back and wonder, ‘did it all really happen?’. I am so glad that at long last Bomber Command is being remembered not only for what it achieved but also for the lives of the young men who never came back. Many of them were boys. I myself added a year to my age at 16 so that I could join the Air Force.”

Bomber Command veteran Alan Biffen (pictured), 87 yearsold, attended the Dedication and Unveiling event. He joined Bomber Command in 1944 and flew in 10 missions. He said:

The RAF’s leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund, took over guardianship of the Memorial after the unveiling. It will ensure that the Memorial continues to be a lasting tribute to the men who gave their lives serving in Bomber Command and a symbol of peace and reconciliation for future generations.

“I find it difficult to emphasise even to my grandchildren what the Bomber Command Memorial means to me.

For more information go to or

Angus Veterans’ Partnership Angus Council has launched an initiative drawing together help and support for the county’s veterans. The Veterans First Partnership will identify and coordinate the services available to veterans in a one-stop paper and online information resource. The new partnership will work alongside the Firmbase group which has been established as a cross-forces group within Tayside to support collaborations with local authorities and their partners and provide a joined-up approach to helping veterans.

Cllr Proctor joined the army at the age of 15 and spent the next 40 years working his way up the ranks to become a Major. Cllr Proctor said: “We have a strong tradition of partnership with the UK’s military services and want to continue and strengthen this by making access to services easier and better coordinated than at present, for the benefit and support of veterans.” He added:

The partnership’s first publication Veterans First has been launched. It was designed in partnership with the Angus Community Planning Partnership, SSAFA Forces Help and The Royal British Legion. The booklet is available as a resource for personnel who have just left the Armed Forces and for those who was to help the Armed Forces Community. The council has appointed a Veterans’ Champion, Councillor Ronnie Proctor MBE (pictured), a retired Black Watch Major, to champion the needs of veterans and support the relationship between the council and the British military.

“I am delighted and honoured to be leading for all councillors on Veterans issues. I pay tribute to the work of the Council members and officers to date which has helped foster and build on the excellent relationship we enjoy with all our armed forces both past and present”. To request a copy of the booklet visit Angus Council’s ACCESS offices, libraries, Angus doctors surgeries, British Legions and SSAFA Forces Help. An electronic copy is also available at or by calling ACCESSLine on 08452 777 778.


Making commitments a reality How the Scottish Government is meeting the needs and aspirations of its veterans’ community

“. . . resources and support available to our Veterans and the NHS inform Website will rest at the heart of how we deliver . . .” The Scottish Parliament Building which is situated at the foot of Royal Mile in Edinburgh

There are approximately 400,000 veterans living in Scotland, and every year many of the 2,000 who leave the Armed Forces opt to settle in Scotland’s towns, rural communities and cities. SCOTLAND’S veterans are a diverse group – males and females aged 16 to 100 plus who may have served as linguists, caterers, engineers, etc in active service or postings, from the Second World War to current operations in Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands to serving overseas in Cyprus. Former Royal Marine, Keith Brown, was appointed to the post of Scotland’s Armed Forces and Veterans Minister in May, last year. Having served in the Falklands war in 1982, Keith returned to the Islands in June to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands. Keith commented: “I was delighted when the First Minister announced the creation of the Armed Forces and Veterans Minister role in 2008. We created this portfolio because we wanted to make sure that the interests, needs and aspirations of veterans were at


the centre of our policy thinking here in Scotland. “Following the last Scottish parliamentary elections, I was extremely pleased to take on the mantle of Armed Forces and Veterans Minister - to continue the excellent work undertaken by my predecessors Stuart Maxwell and Alex Neil. “I am proud to say that over the past year we have made considerable progress on a number of key veterans’ issues, and there is plenty more to come over the coming months.” Keith’s day-to-day responsibilities as Armed Forces and Veterans Minister include meeting with veterans’ organisations, engaging with colleagues at the Ministry of Defence (MOD), participating in parliamentary debates and liaising with stakeholder groups including local authorities and health boards. On behalf of the Scottish Government, Keith has endorsed the Armed Forces Covenant, and has appointed a senior official to represent Scotland on the Covenant Reference Group, which has been tasked

with managing the delivery of the Covenant across the UK. Keith is in regular discussions with Defence Ministers, both about the As a Falklands veteran Covenant and himself, Armed Forces on wider and Veterans Minister veterans’ issues. Keith Brown is aware of He is due to the issues veterans face. meet with his Ministerial counterpart to discuss the roll out of the Covenant in further detail. In addition to his ongoing work with colleagues at Westminster, Keith is also overseeing the development of a key policy document which sets out the Scottish Government’s long term commitment to delivering advice, assistance and support to the Armed Forces community. The document, entitled ‘Scottish Government Support for the Armed Forces Community in Scotland – our Commitments’ will cover a

treatment for Service-related conditions, subject to clinical need. The leaflet has been distributed to all GP practices and other primary care providers including hospitals and health centres via the 14 NHS Boards. At the official launch event in Stirling, Keith made clear that these two new resources will be invaluable to the country’s former Service personnel in helping them to identify new sources of support and advice on health issues. He said:

Armed Forces & Veterans Minister Keith Brown met Arctic Convoy veterans in May and presented them with a cheque for £5,000 for Arctic Convoy Museum fund.

“The launch of NHS inform information zone on veterans’ health provides an excellent source of rich and detailed information on a whole host of clinical and social issues which can impact Scottish veterans, and is designed to enhance their health and wellbeing. “There has clearly been huge progress in how we help veterans access the public services that they have a right to. However, we know we need to improve further to give back to those who have given so much. Keith’s comments were supported by Colonel Martin Gibson from Veterans Scotland – the representative body for veterans’ organisations in Scotland. He said: “I am enormously grateful to the Health Information Services team at NHS 24 who have made these new resources possible and I would highly recommend those who have an interest or role in caring for Scotland’s Veterans to make full use of the information provided.

Armed Forces and Veterans Minister Keith Brown launches the Veteran Healthcare Guide and the Healthcare Providers Awareness leaflet at the Stirling Citizens Advice Bureau in July 2012.

range of policy areas that are of devolved responsibility from Westminster, including: health, housing, education, justice and sport. The Commitments paper will ensure that the Scottish Government’s support for veterans is tailored specifically to the legislative and administrative landscape in Scotland. Keith continued: “The aim of the Commitments paper is to help ensure that the Armed Forces community in Scotland have access to the public services that they require. The Scottish Government is working proactively with organisations like Veterans Scotland, the Reserve Forces and Cadet Associations, the Army Families Federation and the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency to

Issue 25 September 2012

ensure that we have a comprehensive, joined up approach.” With the Commitments paper due to be published shortly, Keith officially launched an online Veteran Healthcare Guide in July. The resource, available via the NHS inform website, offers guidance to healthcare professionals and veterans on specific health concerns and provides advice on subjects such as mental health and physical recovery. In parallel, a Healthcare Providers Awareness leaflet was also launched to help ensure that more veterans in Scotland are identified by health workers as Armed Forces veterans. By ensuring veterans are known to their health providers, they can more easily obtain access to specialist advice services on offer to them through NHS Scotland, including priority

“The Scottish Government has gone to great lengths to make resources and support available to our Veterans and the NHS inform Website will rest at the heart of how we deliver to the many thousands of men and women who have served in our Armed Forces.” Keith is dedicated to ensuring that Scotland’s veterans population have access to the support and advice they require to live healthy and peaceful lives when they leave the service.

Contacts You can follow the Scottish Government Veterans feed on Twitter @scotgovveterans or for further information, call Veterans Scotland on 0131 550 1569. The Veterans Healthcare Guide can be found at VeteransHealth/Useful-Documents


What does the Armed Forces C Not just a paper exercise, the Covenant is making a significant differen

The Covenant signing in Test Valley, Hampshire earlier this year. Seated, left to right: Lt Col Jason Kerr - CO 22 Engineer Regiment, Brig Richard Dennis - Colonel of the Regiment (Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment), Councillor Ian Carr - Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Brig David Greenwood - Army Headquarters, Col Murray Whiteside - Commandant Army Aviation Centre

Since the Armed Forces Covenant was published just over a year ago, the Government, Local Authorities, charities and voluntary organisations have been very busy. A range of measures have been delivered to make life easier for the Armed Forces Community, including the introduction of the Community Covenant with a £30 million grant scheme to support it. Veterans are being given a great deal of consideration and will benefit from the Covenant. Here the MOD’s Covenant Team gives Veterans WORLD the latest update . . . THE principle behind the Covenant is that the Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage because of its military experience. In some cases, such as the sick, injured or bereaved, this means giving special consideration to enable access to public or commercial services that civilians wouldn’t receive. The Covenant covers issues from housing, health and education to support after service. Here are just a few of the commitments the Government has made to veterans...


Housing When it comes to accessing social housing, we’ve made sure Service leavers aren’t disadvantaged by the amount of times they’ve had to move with the job by putting them on an equal footing with civilians already living in an area in terms of a ‘local connection’. For those veterans who are seriously injured as a result of service, we’ve ensured extra preference when applying for specially adapted housing.

and need prosthetic limbs, you will receive the same access and specialist care from the NHS as you did from Defence Medical Services. [Please see the article on page 14 for further information on prosthetic care.] It’s in healthcare where the ‘special treatment’ part of the Covenant comes into play. For example, veterans who have suffered injuries that mean they can no longer have children are guaranteed three cycles of IVF on the NHS.

If you are a veteran, you can get help to find somewhere to live from your local council. They can give you free advice on housing options and advice if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Healthcare It’s incredibly important to tell your GP that you’re a veteran, because if you have a medical condition as a result of your time in service you should be given priority in NHS treatment, subject to clinical need. If you were injured in Service

Veterans will benefit from a number of commitments outlined in the Covenant

sence Covenant do for Veterans? to the Armed Forces Community The same goes for any mental health issues you might face. First of all, Service people are entitled to use the military mental health centres for up to six months after they leave. There’s also the Big White Wall website ( where you can discuss your problems and get support and information if you need it, completely anonymously. If you are worried about your mental health you should seek professional advice as soon as possible. Further education Making sure Service people have enough qualifications to help them succeed in Civvy Street after they leave is a top priority for the Government. Most of this sort of work is done through Enhanced Learning Credits which you build up during Service. They can fund education for up to 10 years after leaving the Forces. Troops to Teachers is another scheme designed for Service leavers who want to become teachers and provides Communities are getting behind the Armed Forces Covenant

“We’ve made sure Service leavers aren’t disadvantaged by the amount of times they’ve had to move with the job by putting them on an equal footing with civilians already living in an area in terms of a ‘local connection’. Issue 25 September 2012

sponsorship for training. It’s run by the Department for Education (DfE) and the first 150 people will start in September 2013. Full details on how to sign up aren’t available yet, so keep an eye on DfE’s website if it’s something that interests you: Community Covenant The Covenant is not just about the Government delivering commitments on a national level. More than 100 local communities have signed a Community Covenant. It is a voluntary statement of mutual support between civilians and the Armed Forces in their area to encourage mutual understanding and to bring the two communities together. Alongside it we run the Community Covenant Grant Scheme, set up to fund local projects that support its aims, like the Swan Forces which helps prevent social exclusion among ex-Service personnel and their families in Wiltshire. More than £4 million r) Billy, Charlie handing has(from beenl to allocated so farand via Chris the scheme the80‘key’ to Mark Lovatt to more than projects.

The work doesn’t stop There are a host of commitments relating to veterans – we’ve covered just a few in this article and more will be added to the list as we go. To keep tabs on the progress we’re making, the first statutory Annual Report on the Armed Forces Covenant will be published later this year. Please keep an eye out for updates on our website where you can find out more about the commitments the Government has made, what is being done to implement these commitments and where you should go if you need help or advice.

Bolsover, Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire Councils signed their Community Covenant in July


New NHS programme piloted in the North West Live At-Ease programme provides non-clinical support to veterans

“They understood my challenges and I was able to move forward with my life.” Since leaving the army, Peter has needed support with a number of challenges including finding employment and the strain Army life has put on his family. Peter recently used Live At-Ease’s services to cope with some of the challenges he’s encountered in civilian life. He said: Peter (circled) in his Army’s days on exercise in Scotland

Live at-Ease is a new programme, commissioned by the NHS, being piloted across the North West. The programme offers free one-to-one support to ex-Service personnel and their families to deal with issues that have occurred during or after spending time in the Armed Forces.

issues that ex-Service personnel come up against - relationship breakdown, housing issues, unemployment, drug and alcohol addiction and money management problems. It is widely acknowledged that mental health needs can’t be met if support isn’t in place to help with these other non-clinical issues. From caseworker support, building confidence in applying for jobs to creating money management plans, there is support for issues that veterans may be facing.

“Balancing the things you’ve seen in the field with the normality of family life and a civvy job can create a big strain. I really

How does the pilot work? LIVE AT-EASE provides non-clinical additional support through dedicated caseworkers who help to assess the needs and options of ex-Service personnel and their families and liaise with approved service organisations that can help. Launched in April 2012, the pilot period will run until June 30, 2013. Non-clinical support Ex-Service people may need clinical support with mental and physical health problems when they leave the forces. The NHS and other providers offer an array of services to support physically injured personnel and a range of talking therapies and other mental health services are also available through regional IAPTs (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) - NHS services that treat people with depression and anxiety. Over the years, clinical service providers have noticed that there are many other


Live At-Ease works with existing Armed Forces organisations and charities, voluntary organisations, NHS and Probation services to join them together and provide the most effective support. Each client has a dedicated caseworker who puts a support plan together and who is there throughout the client’s time with Live At-Ease to ensure they get exactly the right support. Anyone who has ever served in the armed forces and who lives in the North West can use Live At-Ease. They can be any age and could have left the military yesterday or 40 years ago. The programme is also available to the families of ex-Service personnel. Peter’s story Peter Wilcox, 53, is an Army veteran who lives in Greater Manchester with his wife and two daughters.

Peter Wilcox and his family today

struggled with finding employment and getting used to the work place after being in the Army for eight years. Lots of ex-soldiers have similar problems and sometimes it’s a slow process finding help. But Live At-Ease supported me straight away with finding training and a job. They understood my challenges and I was able to move forward with my life. I would recommend other veterans get in touch as Live At-Ease can help quickly with a wide range of non-medical problems.”

Contacts To contact Live At-Ease: email call 0808 123 1123 or visit

Celebrating the past and looking to the future The Poppy Factory’s 90th Anniversary

The Poppy Factory modern day – Darryl Oung (centre), ex-Royal Engineers, supported by the Poppy Factory.

The Team working at the Poppy Factory in Richmond, 1932


This year marks the 90th Anniversary of The Poppy Factory, which, nine decades on is still doing exactly what its founder, Major George Howson MC, set out to do – creating employment opportunities for wounded veterans. RETURNING from the First World War, Howson was devastated by the thought that the men he had served alongside were arriving home to find that, because of the injuries they sustained as a result of their Service, they were no longer employable. He was so moved that in 1922 he founded The Disabled Society, which later became The Poppy Factory, in order to provide employment for disabled soldiers. Although much has changed since the 1920s, the fact remains that wounded, injured and sick ex-Service personnel can still face an uncertain future, having to come to terms with a very different career path to what they had imagined for themselves. What has changed is that the diversity in skills and experiences and the professional aspirations of wounded, injured and sick ex-Service personnel mean that the most appropriate employment opportunities now lie within communities and businesses around the UK. As a result, Howson’s original vision has been expanded. “. . . I couldn’t keep up physically,” Darryl, ex Royal Engineers, who is now a Course Director for the New Horizons Project at West Kent YMCA said. “When I came here to work as a Mentor and Trainer three and a half years ago, I hadn’t worked for 12 years.” He continued: “I couldn’t keep up physically, but here they go with what you can do and don’t expect you to wreck yourself. I now have the confidence to work elsewhere, but I don’t want to. I love this job. I still battle coming here, we can’t change how we are made, but we can adapt to civilian life.”

The Poppy Factory wins an International Outstanding Achievement Web Award Generate UK entered the website they designed for The Poppy Factory into the Interactive Media Awards 2012 under the category 'Employment Websites'. This recently resulted in The Poppy Factory’s website winning the IMA Outstanding

The Poppy Factory now offers a comprehensive career support package to help wounded, injured and sick ex-Service personnel find and sustain civilian employment. It sources appropriate opportunities for work and seeks to help remove the barriers which might prevent ex-Service personnel from easily accessing the civilian workplace. As an employer of wounded, injured and sick ex-Service personnel, The Poppy Factory can advise and support employers in achieving the best results for both the employee and the employer. The results speak for themselves. Since the expansion of the programme in 2010, The Poppy Factory has supported 156 clients into work and is having a wider impact. Moreover, it is changing the lives of its clients.

Achievement Award 2012. The Outstanding Achievement Award is the second highest honour bestowed by the Interactive Media Award and an extremely challenging award to win. The website designed and built by Generate UK, using the content composed by The Poppy Factory, has excelled in all areas of the judging criteria and represents a very high standard of planning, execution and overall professionalism.

“I now have a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning” says Tony, ex-Royal Tank Regiment. The Poppy Factory’s current priority is to help 500 wounded, injured and sick exService personnel like Darryl and Tony into work by 2015 and welcomes any support which will help to achieve this goal. In its 90th year, The Poppy Factory celebrates the fact that the vision of its founder, Major George Howson MC, remains relevant, viable and vibrant for the modern age.

Contacts For further information call: 020 8940 3305, Fax: 020 8332 1205 or visit

The Team working at the Poppy Factory in Richmond, 1932

Issue 25 September 2012


Creating a better deal Recommendations on prosthetics care are taking shape

Over £100,000 has been used to provide veterans with high quality prosthetics

Dr Andrew Murrison MD MP has been in high demand recently. Less than two years after the publication of ‘Fighting Fit’, he is back in the spotlight again with ‘A Better Deal for Military Amputees’ – having been commissioned by the Government to carry out a review of prosthetics services for ex-Service amputees who have lost limbs due to activities while serving their country. THE Government asked Dr Murrison to lead the review back in January 2011, following mounting concern from Service charities - and some serving personnel who had been seriously injured - that the NHS might not be equipped to provide prosthetic services to the same standard as the Defence Medical Service at Headley Court. It is easy to see where this concern stems from when you consider that there are now many young veterans surviving combat situations with the loss of two or even three limbs. The severity of this type of injury often leaves them requiring care for the rest of their lives.


The new deal

Keeping informed

It’s against this tough backdrop that ‘A Better Deal’ was published in October 2011. An implementation plan followed quickly, and some excellent progress has been made since then. Phase one of the plan is now in place, with over £100,000 having been used to provide veterans with high-quality prosthetics. The next stage will be for the Department of Health to introduce a number of enhanced national specialist prosthetic and rehabilitation centres for amputee veterans across the country. This needs to be in place by March 2013. Investment has been significant, with the Prime Minister pledging up to £15 million over three years to support Dr Murrison’s recommendations.

All of this work is moving extremely quickly with progress being made every day. With this in mind, good communications are essential. The teams involved in the setup are making full use of social media to spread the positive message about what they are doing.

Although the onus is now on the Department of Health, this won’t be a case of Government working in isolation. The Department is working collaboratively with service charities – including the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association (BLESMA) – as well as specialists within the NHS and the Ministry of Defence, to ensure that high-quality facilities are made available to our ex-Service amputees.


“Investment has been significant, with the Prime Minister pledging up to £15 million over three years to support Dr Murrison’s recommendations.” Anyone interested in learning more can visit the webpage run by NHS London Twitter users can also sign up to follow @steveatDH.

New mental health service launched for north east veterans “Just having one number to contact will make things much easier for those who are struggling with a mental health issue.” The NHS in the north east has launched a new mental health service for the 200,000 veterans living in the region the Veterans’ Wellbeing Assessment and Liaison Service (VWALS). SIMPLY by calling 0191 441 5974 or emailing, north east veterans can now get support to help them access local mental health and social care services. Symon Day, clinical psychologist at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The experiences people have during their military service, or in trying to adjust to civilian life after leaving the forces, can sometimes lead to anxiety, depression, stress or even alcohol and drug misuse. Veterans are also susceptible to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “However, for a veteran experiencing mental health problems it can sometimes be difficult to know which of the many local NHS services and charities to contact for help and support - especially if they have only recently left the armed forces and are still adjusting to civilian life. “VWALS provides a solution to this issue by giving veterans a single point of contact and directing them to the local services which are best placed to provide the support that they need.”

Issue 25 September 2012

Thirty eight year old Richard Blackburn (pictured above), from Cramlington, served in the army for six years. When he left the forces in 1997, he experienced post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and struggled to adjust to civilian life. Richard said: “When I first left the army, I felt like I couldn’t function properly – I was struggling to remember simple things, such as taking medication. I just wasn’t myself. “I didn’t know where to start when it came to seeking help, and it took me a long time to find a service which worked for me. “Just having one number to contact will make things much easier for those who are struggling with a mental health issue. I would encourage anyone in the north east who has been in the armed forces to contact VWALS if they are worried about their mental health.” After a veteran gets in touch, an outreach worker from VWALS will visit the veteran in their own home to carry out an assessment to determine which local NHS services, social care organisations and charities are best placed to provide the help they need. Factors such as housing, welfare and employment will also be considered to ensure veterans receive support in these

The VWALS Team

areas as part of their care. The NHS will be working closely with The Royal British Legion to provide support in these areas. Andrew Drake, manager of The Royal British Legion in the North, said: “The Legion welcomes the launch of this much-needed service in the north east which represents the NHS working towards fulfilling aims set out in the Military Covenant - the nation’s pledge to look after our Armed Forces – specifically that they should face no disadvantage as a result of the unique nature of military service.”

Contacts To contact VWALS simply call 0191 441 5974 (lines are open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm), email or visit


Veteran Support Service Providing support to ex-Service personnel and their families Jimmy* was referred to the service by Combat Stress. Jimmy suffers from PTSD and Chronic Severe Anxiety Disorder. Jimmy was very worried about his income as he had lost his job in January and did not have enough money to pay the rent and bills for the next month.

Social inclusion is an important aspect of the charity’s work

A service for veterans living in Hounslow, Kingston, Merton & Richmond offering support around housing issues, applying for benefits, debt, physical and mental health problems, alcohol and drug issues, maintaining your tenancy, finding employment, training and activities. SPEAR is a London based charity that’s been supporting homeless people in and around Richmond since 1987. Its dedicated Veterans support service, launched in 2010, is funded by The Royal British Legion. The charity provides a wide range of support in areas including dealing with debt, benefits, accessing employment and education, housing, tenancy sustainment, social inclusion, improving living skills and mental and physical wellbeing. The charity works closely with many organisations and services, such as The Royal British Legion, Combat Stress, SSAFA, Gardening Leave, Ghurkha Welfare Trust, etc to provide a signposting and referral service, when needed. Social inclusion is important to the charity which has created strong links within the community to help improve the life of its clients. It’s there for its clients as they step towards a better life, as Marscha Ross, the Veterans Support Worker explained:


‘It’s very important to support veterans, especially now that many Servicemen are being made redundant and could end up homeless and unemployed. We want to support our clients so they can live independently, reach their goals and live fulfilling lives. ‘

“. . . we want to support our clients so they can live independently, reach their goals and live fulfilling lives.” “2012 is our 25th anniversary year and since our beginnings in the 1980’s we as a charity have evolved to include more dedicated service to the veterans needing support. The service has proved a success which, as the Veterans Support Worker, I take personal pride in. After providing a quarter of a century of support, SPEAR will continue ensuring that we are there ready to support veterans in our community.”

The Veteran Support service supported Jimmy to apply for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Housing Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance. They also referred him to the Veterans Welfare Service, who helped him apply for a war pension. Jimmy was awarded the Employment and Support Allowance but the DLA was turned down. The Veterans Support Service went to the Citizens Advice Bureau to receive debt advice and to appeal the DLA decision. Jimmy used to have weekly massages for his severe back pain but he could no longer afford these. A grant was applied for via the Royal British Legion and funding was received from the Army Air Corps Fund, to pay for this treatment. The Service is now currently in the process of applying for a Freedom Pass and a Community Care Grant. Jimmy was also feeling bored and depressed sitting at home. He was taken to the ‘Gardening Leave Project’ where he has met ex-Service men in a similar situation and where he can go and attend gardening therapy. *Name changed to protect privacy. SPEAR provides support in the London boroughs of Richmond, Merton, Hounslow or Kingston.

Contacts If you know a veteran needing SPEAR’s support or want further information call 0207 036 9778/9775, email or or

A lifetime of support A charity’s commitment to ensuring officers live with dignity and independence

The team liaises closely with other Service and civilian charities, to help support each individual with a bespoke solution.

‘Pick of the Week’ gives former officers exclusive access to a wide range of industry positions

For over 90 years, the Officers’ Association (OA) has been the only Service charity to deal specifically with the needs of officers and their dependants. SET up in the aftermath of the First World War, to provide vital help to injured and disabled servicemen and assist them in finding employment, the Association’s commitment to ensuring officers live with dignity and independence has changed little over the years. Today’s officers have a different set of challenges to face but, as the family member of a retired officer recently suggested, they may be less likely to seek help when they have been so used to taking a leadership role. With an increasing number of officers affected by the instabilities of the current economic climate, the OA aims to assist officers and former officers who are making the all-important transition from the Services into civilian employment. Cdr Ted Main was one of over a thousand clients that the OA helped towards finding work last year. After 34 years in the Royal Navy, he didn’t want to leave the Service and had a tough year dealing with the transition to the civilian job market. Ted spent some time in Tanzania achieving the summit of Kilimanjaro over his

Issue 25 September 2012

discharge date to help lighten the transition, before continuing his resettlement with the help of the OA. He now works as a Business Developmental Project Manager at Babcock International Group, Warships (Marine and Technology) Division, where he has been able to transfer his service engineering experience into his new civilian job role. Ted describes the service he received at the OA as ‘second to none’ adding: “The OA provided the advice, guidance, practical support and ‘know how’ to get from the training courses and knowledgeimprovement phase to the sharp end of accessing the job market and achieving a successful interview.”

As well as advising officers on employment matters, the OA Benevolence Department provides advice on a wide range of state benefits and financial support to former officers and their dependants, as an important part of its commitment to lifetime support for officers and their families. Of the beneficiaries, just over 50 per cent are from the Army and the rest are evenly split between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. The team liaises closely with other Service and civilian charities, to help support each individual with a bespoke solution.

Quarterly symposiums give former officers the opportunity to network with potential employers

The financial support takes the form of annual allowances or one-off grants to help with specific items. The list is wide ranging, from household goods to disability items including mobility scooters and stair lifts. There is also help available for shortfalls in care home fees.

Contacts Gordon Ross, one of OA employment consultant

For further information visit or call 0207 808 4160. If in doubt, or in need of advice, just give the OA a call.


Two nations unite to help blind veterans The Project Gemini initiative

“We are coming over to learn from each other and strengthen the bonds that we share as veterans.” Tom Zampieri, BVA Director Government Relations and member of the Project Gemini delegation said:

The Project Gemini Group

A group of war blinded American Armed Forces veterans met up with a delegation of British blind ex-Servicemen in the UK in May as part of a special exchange programme with Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s). THE activity packed stay was part of a joint initiative known as Project Gemini, set up by Blind Veterans UK - the charity for vision impaired veterans, and the US organisation Blinded Veterans Association (BVA). The name stems from the fact that Gemini is a transatlantic communications cable that links the UK and the US. Project Gemini offers blind veterans from both sides of the Atlantic the opportunity to share knowledge and experience of


rehabilitation and independent living training, vision research, and adaptive technology for blind people. A high point of the week was visiting Blind Veterans UK’s rehabilitation and training centre in Brighton, which helps ex-Service personnel who have lost their sight due to conflict, age or illness. There the American veterans were shown some of the cutting edge techniques and equipment the centre uses to give thousands of blind veterans greater independence, and they also enjoyed a strong camaraderie with the Blind Veterans UK beneficiaries. On a recreational level they tried out archery and acoustic rifle shooting. Ray Hazan, President of Blind Veterans UK said “The visit extends the co-operation between our two nations both on the battlefield and its subsequent consequences. Throughout its 97 year existence, Blind Veterans UK has advised and encouraged other similar blind organisations.”

“On behalf of the Blinded Veterans Association, we are so honored to be able to participate in the Project Gemini program. Like Blind Veterans UK the BVA has striven over decades to help each generation of vision impaired veterans. We constantly work with our Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Services to facilitate new ways to improve on the technology training and vision research services for our blinded veterans” . Tom added: “We are coming over to learn from each other and strengthen the bonds that we share as veterans.” This is the second year that there have been exchange visits between Blind Veterans UK and the BVA, and both organisations anticipate that Project Gemini will go from strength to strength helping to improve the lives of blind ex-Service men and women.

Contacts For further information call 0207 723 5021, Follow @blindveterans on Twitter, Join them on or visit

Building confidence Supporting veterans with sight loss “I felt hopeless; I used to be so confident and did everything at 100 miles an hour.” said Stuart, ” I kept tripping over and bumping into people, it was easier just to get my sister to do my shopping and I just stayed at home watching telly.” Ideally Stuart wanted to be able to learn to use his remaining sight better and to be able to go to the supermarket to do his own shopping and even to go back to watching his football team on a Saturday, simple things that most of us take for granted.

Helping regain much needed independence

Visibility is a charity that provides a range of services for blind and partially-sighted people throughout the west of Scotland, including Dumfries and Galloway. THEIR Sealladh project works with people who have neurological sight loss following a brain injury. Neurological sight loss is where the brain has difficulty translating the messages which come from the eye. This kind of sight loss can be caused by strokes, road traffic accidents, assaults, and combat injuries – in fact, many different types of head injury.

Visibility trains people to use their remaining vision more effectively by using a technique called compensatory scanning. It uses a system called Neurovision Technology (NVT) which involves assessment and training using a panel of lights linked to a computer programme. The charity then works with the person over a number of sessions to improve scanning ability and outdoor mobility Sealladh won the Innovation in Service Delivery category at the prestigious Military and Civilian Health Awards in 2009.

Gaining independence

Visibility use the Neurovision Technology system, which involves using training using a panel of lights linked to a computer system Originally funded by Scottish War Blinded to work with military veterans, the charity has now expanded to work with nonveterans, mainly stroke patients.

Issue 25 September 2012

Stuart is 32 and a former soldier. A year after leaving the army he was involved in a serious car crash which left him with severe head injuries and some mobility problems. Although the mobility problems were soon overcome, he was left with an acquired brain injury which has affected his short term memory and left him with a complete loss of vision on the right. Discharged from hospital and living on his own, he was referred to the ‘Sealladh’ project to see if they could help.

Visibility provided a number of training sessions for Stuart in their Glasgow office where he was taught compensatory scanning where he learned just how much of his visual field was missing and strategies for him to see everything he needed to. Sealladh means ‘sight’ and is pronounced Shallach.

“It was amazing, once I knew what I was missing; I learned to start looking around by turning my head fully to the right. That way I use the good half of my vision like a searchlight. It seems simple enough but I had no idea that’s what I had to do.” Stuart’s memory problems meant the project had to constantly reinforce his scanning strategy but they got there in the end and moved out of Visibility and into mobility training around a busy town centre. This included crossing roads safely and finding his way around crowded environments. A year on, Stuart is a much more confident man, he is happier going out and about on his own, is scanning with great accuracy and is hoping to go to Europe to follow his team (if they qualify.)

Contacts For more information call 0141 332 4632, email or visit


Bridging the generation gap Charity has been supporting disabled veterans of all ages since 1919 The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home (QAHH) was founded in 1919 to care for those who were permanently disabled when casualties in the First World War reached appalling numbers. From the outset, the home pioneered medical and social care procedures which are taken for granted today. THAT work continues today with QAHH providing care and rehabilitation for people with physical and/or neurological disabilities, predominantly Servicemen and women. QAHH supports, on average 140 Servicemen and women and their families, every year. Although based in Worthing, they accept residents from across the UK. Its residents range in age from 25 to 102 years old and represent the tri–Services. The home has 60 beds offering for some a placement for life and for others a slow

“Art keeps the mind going and the therapeutic effects are just as good as tablets and medicines� 20

stream rehabilitation pathway to regaining as much independence as possible. There are many different types of nursing care undertaken throughout the Hospital Home that are reflective of the disabilities suffered by our residents. 90 per cent of the residents the charity cares for are wheelchair users, some residents have motor neurone diseases, central nervous system disease and spinal injuries and others are unable to communicate because of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). QAHH aim to give Servicemen and women their independence back by improving their mobility through regular physiotherapy sessions, teaching them new ways to communicate through speech therapy, and empowering them with new techniques to accomplish everyday living tasks such as getting

dressed, cooking a meal, or taking a trip to the shops. Services include: Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy, Counselling, Chaplaincy, and End of Life Care. Now in its 93rd year of operation, QAHH specialise in the rehabilitation of those with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). ABI is the term used to relate to a nondegenerative brain injury incurred after birth. People who suffer from an ABI often have varying levels of physical and communicative abilities and the greatest challenge they face is coming to terms with these abrupt changes and learning to live with them. QAHH currently have 25 residents suffering with ABI and are welcoming an increasing number of younger residents with their lives ahead of them, making its commitment to rehabilitation even more important.

Speech Therapy Jack* was in the Royal Navy for 25 years before leaving the Service in the 80's. Like many Service men and women he found adjusting to civilian life difficult, and to make matters worse suffered a stroke at just 47. The stroke left him with weakness down the left side of his body which has not only affected his mobility but his tongue and innovation of muscles and coordination. His muscle movements are less clear and can often lead to unpredictable speech patterns and speech sounds.

QAHH have been pioneers in medical and social care since 1919

Learning new techniques to accomplish everyday tasks

Therapeutic Benefits Pat Kilmartin, one of QAHH’s permanent residents is a testament to the therapeutic benefits of its social and recreational sessions. Pat's love of painting became very much a way of life for the ex-Soldier after he was shot in the leg in the Second World War. The War Pensions Committee encouraged injured service personnel to keep active and to develop hobbies and Pat chose to paint. Pat can often be found in the Social and Recreational department where

Issue 25 September 2012

he has a regular spot set up for his materials. He said “With the department open at weekends, I enjoy being able to do my art when I wish. Art keeps the mind going and the therapeutic effects are just as good as tablets and medicines.” He has particularly valued the Social and recreational department expanding their hours into the weekends and evenings and is taking full advantage of this.

Jack is one of the four residents who attend the weekly Speech Intelligibility Group sessions. The Speech and Language Therapy team support the groups to carry out daily functional tasks with the aim of increasing their clarity of speech. A typical task is to make a smoothie drink. In the first week residents will search recipes on the internet by calling out search items for the speech therapists. This encourages them to accurately produce vowel and consonant sounds and achieve clear dialogue. The next stage is to meet kitchen staff, introduce themselves and explain what they want to do and what ingredients they need. Once the ingredients are received, work is taken to the rehabilitation kitchen where residents direct the Speech therapist to carry out actions to make the smoothies. These sessions improve vocal frequency range and improve speech intelligibility. As a result residents are able to interact better with friends and family, feel socially included and independent. *Name has been changed to protect identity

Contacts For further information on QAHH: call 01903 213458, email or visit . You can also find QAHH on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @QAHH.


Making the hardest call New bereavement line to support Armed Forces Community

Calls regarding bereavement can be routed through the system and prioritised

The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency’s (SPVA) Veterans-UK Helpline have launched a dedicated Bereavement line to enable the loved ones or nominated representatives of serving and ex-Service personnel to have a priority line to report their loss. LAUNCHED at the beginning of June, the dedicated bereavement line is an enhancement to the advice and support the SPVA can provide, at a time when it is needed most. This customer service enhancement evolved from complaints from customers who had experienced unsatisfactory service when trying to contact the Helpline during busy periods. SPVA

wanted to ensure that they could prioritise what is the most difficult and sensitive news for anyone, in reporting the loss of a loved one, especially those who have served. To contact the Bereavement line call 0800 169 3458. The line was and also remains a line for SPVA customers who are hard of hearing and have to utilise the facilities of a mini-com machine. Escalating a call To contact the Bereavement line, the caller simply needs to call 0800 169 3458. The line by-passes the normal route into the Veterans-UK telephony system and gets escalated within the telephony system to prioritise callers to the next available operator, removing the requirement for them to ‘queue’. The Helpline Operator will be able to identify that a call is coming through via the Bereavement line and can prepare themselves for what can be a sensitive call. Victoria Bell, who manages the Veterans-UK Helpline, explained why the line was introduced:

In 2011, the helpline received 7,000 calls relating to bereavement


“In 2011, our helpline took approximately 7,000 reports of Bereavement via the old

route and we felt the new route would enable us to facilitate more calls. This additional facility will also provide a more streamlined process helping us to improve our customer service. It could also reduce potential overpayments of War Disablement Pension and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme which can cause unnecessary upset at a time when it is not needed.” General Enquiries For all general enquiries, please use the main Veterans-UK helpline number 0800 169 2277. The helpline will be unable to answer general queries received on the bereavement line, as it needs to remain free for its intended use. If the customers’ query is not regarding Bereavement, they will be invited to provide their name and number and someone will call them back within 48 hours.

Holiday home joy for charity for bereaved children The first Scotty Lodge opened in Yarmouth A charity which helps the children of fallen service men and women has opened the first of a planned network of holiday homes across the UK.

“I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and for the first time, that there was hope for the future.”

SCOTTY’S LITTLE SOLDIERS, named after Corporal Lee Scott, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2009, and run by his widow Nikki, has raised more than £100,000 to pay for its first property in Great Yarmouth. Dubbed Scotty Lodges, the holiday homes will enable the children and their families to take much-needed breaks, free of charge, at seaside resorts. The first to open is a £105,000, threebedroom lodge at the Haven Seashore Holiday Park in Yarmouth, Norfolk, which sleeps eight. “We chose Seashore as the site for our first lodge because it has absolutely everything a child could want while on holiday, with so many activities to keep them entertained,” said Nikki.

The first Scotty Lodge was officially opened on July 7, this year

“The lodge itself is out of this world. I can’t wait to send our first members there. It’s been a hard but amazing journey so far and I am so proud of everyone who has helped make this possible.” The charity will continue to provide days out, plus birthday and Christmas gifts, but the opening of the first holiday lodge is the first major milestone since Nikki started the charity after seeing the reaction of her own children, eight year

Issue 25 September 2012

Nikki Scott at the opening of the Scotty Lodge at Haven Seashore Holiday Park in Yarmouth, Norfolk

old Kai and three year old Brooke, to a holiday to Turkey following the death of their father.

Haven Seashore, was delighted to welcome Scotty’s Little Soldiers as the park’s newest owners.

“When we were away, I saw Kai laughing the way he’d laughed before Lee died,” said Nikki, who lives in West Norfolk.

“Nikki has done a wonderful job and we’re very pleased to be able to be a part of the great work her and the Scotty’s team are doing,” he added.

“I realised it was the first time I’d really seen him laugh for months. He hadn’t been the same little boy – there was a constant sadness in his eyes, even when he was smiling. “It was as if getting away from the house meant that we could put our grief on hold and relax for the first time. I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and for the first time, that there was hope for the future.” Each lodge will come equipped with a fully-stocked fridge, toys, and games and visitors will have access to the park’s facilities including indoor pool and outdoor SplashZone, play areas, sports pitches, restaurants and entertainment. Adam Daniel, senior sales consultant at

“We’re looking forward to welcoming the families to Yarmouth, putting a smile on their faces and giving them a great holiday.” Nikki added: “We may not be able to personally thank our fallen heroes for making the ultimate sacrifice but, through Scotty’s Little Soldiers, we can help and support their loved ones.”

Contacts For more information about Scotty’s Little Soldiers please visit


Shropshire Charity Offers Holidays Afloat Canal-based holidays available to veterans The Lyneal Trust offers a flexible package of options to enable disabled groups or families to enjoy canal or canal-side holidays. The Shropshire Lass has sleeping accommodation for up to eight people and the Wharf Cottage and bungalows can accommodate up to fourteen people, and are for hire with or without the boats. The Shropshire Lad has no sleeping accommodation and is suitable for day trips on the canal. In addition to disabledfriendly interiors, the boats have hydraulic steering that enables everyone, including wheelchair users, to take part in the running of the boats.

“. . . it gave me back a feeling of independence . . .” The Shropshire Lad setting off

The Lyneal Trust is keen to welcome veterans and their families to canalbased holidays in Shropshire following its recent successful collaboration with wounded and injured military personnel as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations. THE Trust’s two disabled-friendly narrow boats set off from their base at Lyneal Wharf near Ellesmere, Shropshire at the end of April to take part in the Thames River Pageant on June 3. The Shropshire Lass was crewed by civilian disabled customers of the Trust, while the Shropshire Lad was crewed over several

legs by nine wounded and injured soldiers under the care of the Personnel Recovery Unit based at Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury. Staff Sgt John Scarff from Woburn, who was on board when the boats joined the 1,000-strong flotilla on Pageant Day, said that this once-in-a–lifetime journey had played a big part in his recovery plan.

Chris Symes, Chairman of the Lyneal Trust, particularly encourages veterans to visit Shropshire, having seen the beneficial effect the canal experience had on the servicemen fortunate enough to take part in the Jubilee events. “The scenery here and in north Wales is stunning, especially from the 120-feet high Pontcysyllte aqueduct over the River Dee. There are only a few locks, level towpaths, occasional shops, and plenty of friendly and accessible pubs for the end of each day.”

“I came on board as a sick soldier and it gave me back a feeling of independence because we were largely left to get on with it.” Staff Sgt Mike Clubb from Blandford, Dorset said that “it was terrific to get back into army life again.” The cottage and bungalows

The Shropshire Lass


“I enjoyed the banter with the lads and the whole week was so relaxing that I felt really chilled. I definitely want to go on a canal holiday again.”

Contacts Further information can be found at, Twitter: @LynealTrust or Facebook: search for Lyneal Trust.

SPVA News SPVA awards contract to CSC Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) has been awarded a new contract to provide pay and HR services for the UK’s Armed Forces. This commercial arrangement will underpin the way SPVA will deliver its services to our Armed Forces over the next seven years. The Contract, for service delivery, will come into effect on 13 November. Charity Hub – have we got your details? At the beginning of 2012 SPVA launched their new Charity Hub, which provides detailed information on charities and other organisations that provide support to the Armed Forces community online. Progress is being made on the Hub with over 60 charities and organisations added to the Hub but work continues on making the Hub a useful working resource for the Armed Forces Community. Karen Awere, SPVA Communications Officer for the Hub explains: “We’re making progress but still want more organisations to add their details to the Hub. We are aware that there any many charities, organisations and initiatives supporting the Armed Forces Community, so its important to make sure that they are included in our Charity Hub. It’s not exclusive; we want to hear from charities, organisations, social enterprises and community interest groups that are supporting this community. We want to make sure that we can provide great opportunities to help raise awareness of their services.” You can visit the Hub at /veterans_community_news/ charity_org1.html To express an interest in being added to the Hub, drop an email to: Latest Veterans Today video now online The seventh Veterans Today video has been launched which focuses on the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and includes an interview with Sharon Tabeart, Assistant Head of AFCS and the War Pension Scheme. The video can be found on the Defence Headquarters YouTube channel.

Issue 25 September 2012

The regular feature providing you with updates from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency

Welfare Support across the UK The Veterans Welfare Service is part of the MOD’s Service Personnel and Veterans Agency’s services to the Armed Forces Community across the UK. From advice on Service pensions, referrals to ex-Service organisations to accessing your Welfare needs, there may be something we can help you with. The Veterans Welfare Service provides a personal caseworker service that can support you via the telephone or home visits, if needed. The Veterans Welfare Service can also be contacted via one of the four Veterans Welfare Centres:

Norcross (based near Blackpool) call 01253 333494 email

A VWS Man Tedworth Houseager giving advice at Kidderminster (based in Worcester) call 01562 825527 email

Centurion (based in Gosport) Glasgow call 02392 702232 call 0141 2242709 email email


Watch this space The MOD is preparing to launch a new Defence Discount Service which will replace the old Defence discount directory in the near future.

spouses/partners. It is also open to MOD civil servants, members of the cadet forces and NATO personnel serving in UK-based posts

High profile companies are already on board and will be offering discounts on cars, supermarket shops, holidays and phones from the launch. The new scheme will be available to members of the Armed Forces community including Serving regular and Reserve personnel, Armed Forces veterans, spouses/partners of Service personnel and bereaved

A key part of the new Defence discount service will be a privilege card available for a small cost. Members will be invited to apply for the card which will facilitate access to a wide range of discounts and privileges, as recommended under the Armed Forces Covenant in recognition of the contribution made by the Armed Forces community to our national life.


The flexible Trust Bespoke housing solutions for disabled veterans suitable property and charge an affordable rent. Talan Skeels-Piggins, a former Royal Navy flight controller, was paralysed from the chest down following a motorcycle accident in 2003. In 2011, he founded the charity Bike Experience, which enables paraplegic motorcyclists to ride again. When HHT discovered Talan living in an unsuitable local authority flat in Bath, it moved him into a Haig Homes property in Surrey, which was adapted to suit his disability. Talan is delighted with his new house, and there is plenty of room for his motorcycles.

Talan Skeels-Piggins outside his home

While sister charity Haig Homes provides advice and support to disabled veterans and can assist in identifying adapted accommodation on its estates, Haig Housing Trust (HHT) has the flexibility to house those badly wounded or disabled in Service near to family and friends. HHT can help negotiate the purchase of a property for the seriously injured seeking to buy their own home. It offers a shared ownership scheme for those with compensation for operational or other injuries; and for those severely injured off duty HHT may be able to purchase a

Marine Peter Dunning, 24, lost both legs in May 2008 when his Viking vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan. During his recovery, Pete took up skiing and now skis for the Combined Services' Disabled Ski Team.

Like Talan, Sgt George Pas of Taunton based B Company 6th Rifles, was left confined to a wheelchair following a motorcycling accident. George’s family house was unsuitable for adapting, so HHT found and together with George purchased a 4 bed bungalow nearby. George, his wife Emma and their friends have since improved it and it is being adapted to suit his disability.

Pete’s growing family needed more space, so HHT helped find a suitable property in the Wirral under HHT’s Shared Ownership Scheme. Pete and wife Laura aim to purchase the remainder of the property as soon as they can. Meanwhile HHT is arranging adaptations to help Pete live more comfortably. He said: “Coming Home has been fantastic to us. They really help you with the difficult stuff.”

Marine Peter Dunning and his family found a suitable home under HHT’s shared ownership scheme

HHT has links with the Army’s Personnel Recovery Units and the Royal Marines Hasler Company. It also has links with Help for Heroes (H4H) and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and liaises daily with other Service charities, working together to support veterans. Since Apr 2011, HHT has purchased nine shared ownership properties, two outright purchases, and found and negotiated the purchase of properties for three other Service leavers. Meanwhile Haig Homes housed 97 ex-Service men and women on its estates.

Contacts The Trust can help those severely disabled in Service find a home near to family and friends


HHT has now launched “Coming Home” to raise £20 million over the next few years for more house purchases.

Dennis Wiltshire, served in Bomber Command between 1939 and 1945. The Bomber Command Memorial unveiled, see page 5.

Veterans WORLD Issue 25 September 2012  

Raising awareness of the help and advice available to veterans and their families.