We visited The Bridge for Heroes at its drop-in centre and met three Army veterans whose lives have been changed by the charity.
Helping veterans to improve their health and wellbeing is a priority area for our charity. One charity we are proud to fund is The Bridge for Heroes, a Norfolk-based charity that helps military veterans connect with each other socially. 64 per cent of the veterans that use its services are from the Army family.
Our Case Studies Liaison Officer, Helen McMahon, visited the charity and spoke to three veterans who shared their personal life stories and the challenges they have faced since leaving the Army.
Dorothy grew up in a military family. Her father served in the Royal Marines, which inspired her to look for a service career after a spell working for the Northampton Electricity Board. In 1962 she joined the Women’s Royal Army Corps, where she served for five years before an overseas posting to Aden Yemen during the conflict. After 18 months, she was promoted to Lance Corporal and posted to Singapore before leaving the Army to join the police.
Dorothy first came across The Bridge for Heroes when she moved to Norfolk after her husband died. About ten years ago she visited the charity’s drop-in centre, for which she is full of praise. She says:
“It was a life saver, being able to sit around and talk to fellow veterans and others. I enjoy life, I am active and this charity is a big part of my life. Everyone is so friendly. My thanks to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity for its support.”
Dave joined the Army aged 17 and served with the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment for over seven years, including at the UK military base in Celle, West Germany, as an Armoured Personnel Carrier driver. After leaving the Army, he worked for Mars UK for 25 years.
Dave met a local fundraiser for The Bridge for Heroes and visited the drop-in centre, which helped him through a difficult period in his life. Dave now feels he has a community around him that he considers his family, and he helps to raise charity funds. He says:
“If I stayed at home, I would go crackers. I come here, meet a lot of people and have made friends. I enjoy coming here every day. If The Bridge for Heroes had not been here, I would have gone mad.”
John grew up in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. Having an interest in cooking and, after hearing a talk from an Army recruiter at school, he decided to join the Army Catering Corps in 1974, where he served until 1988. He served with the Irish Guards in the UK and Munster Germany, as well as postings with 45 and 49 Field Royal Artillery and King’s Troop Royal Artillery in the UK and Hohne Germany. After leaving the Army, John worked as a civilian chef for the Army’s Catering Support unit in Grantham for 13 years.
John suffers from blackouts following a car crash about 10 years ago and is no longer able to work. He has been a beneficiary of The Bridge for Heroes for some time and a key member of its fundraising team. He says:
“I feel I now have a purpose in life and enjoy meeting people. Thank you to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity for your grants – much appreciated. It goes a long way to help those veterans that need support.”