The Veterans Charity Big Breakfast

The Veterans Charity supported by Captain Stuart Irwin of HMS Seahawk, RNAS Culdrose held a Big Breakfast event in the Warrant Officers and Senior Rates Mess on the base on 23 September.

It is an idea that started last year when the base Warrant Officer Robbie Buglass RM and one of our Trustees, Mr Iain Henderson, met to discuss the possibility of bringing in over a 150 veterans into the Mess, for a breakfast networking and social event.

Once Captain Irwin gave his support to engage with the local veterans community and their families from right across Cornwall, plans got under way. A key part for The Veterans Charity was to invite other charities, CIC’s, including of course fellow COBSEO members and other support organisations such as the DWP, local NHS and of course MOD Veterans. Some veterans may need our Rapid Reaction support whilst other individuals may need a chat with someone about a career in farming or support with DWP allowances!

The event was enable thanks to the support of two Royal Navy veterans, one Mr Chris Lemon gained the support of Safeguard Engineering, who support the Bases flying operations and Mr Skip McConnell another RN veteran and member of the local Helston AFVBC who privately sponsored the event. This was important as at present The Veterans Charity are currently having our busiest year or record and we prefer as much of our resources go in providing our rapid reaction support.

With the breakfast fully paid for, a small charge was made for tickets, which allowed all the relevant information for both the Guardroom and the Catering team to support the event. This meant a thousand pounds was collected from ticket sales, donations and the sale of merchandise.

However it wasn’t really a fundraiser, as much as that is important of course. It allowed over 170 people to attend back behind the wire, including veterans ranging from 96 years old to more junior members of the Royal Navy. Sadly Kate Oliver, a 101 year old veteran of the Women’s Royal Air Force was taken ill just before the event. So a special video message was recorded by all the attendees to wish her well. We have subsequently learnt that Queen Camilla, has also sent a card wishing Kate well.

The MOD Veterans team and DWP and other organisations engaged with veterans to answer their queries, whilst we shared upcoming events in the county and wider SW, including the next Routes of Remembrance events based on the first Poppies to Paddington event from 2020. As part of our rewilding work, we gave away more poppy seeds from both the Somme and Normandy. This is part of of ongoing Ribbon of Poppies project first started in 2017 to “grow” remembrance to mark the centenary of WW1 in 2018. Many were taken by staff who work in schools and colleges and some will find a special home on the iconic St Michaels Mount, next to one of the pill boxes that can be found on the mount.

Some of the attendees had never heard about the Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs, of which our Trustee has run one and set up others, as he believes they are a vital wellbeing resource. Clubs came from Penzance and Torpoint to Newquay and Falmouth & Penryn and all points in between, including some who had travelled from Bury in Lancashire!

After a speech by Captain Irwin stressing the wide range of support available to those in need, it was an opportunity to thank many of his team such as Gunnery Officer Patterson, Mr Pete McQuie and the Squadrons that have flown in support of the Routes of Remembrance. Whilst we could also say a good bye and thank you for his service to WO Alex Orr of the SW Royal Navy Presentation Team.

Knowing some would travel the length of the county, our team locally arranged the nearby  WW2 Predannack Anti Aircraft battery museum to open up specially to show the work they have been doing to restore this rare artillery site to the south of RNAS Culdrose to working condition. The owner is an armourer for a number of historic castles and military museums across the UK we should point out! This gave veterans and families attending the breakfast a chance to explore the nearby Lizard peninsula and discover some of its military history.

Plans are in place to expand the opportunities for the armed forces families to engage together in similar events.

We would like to thank all those that got onboard the first big breakfast!

Our Executive Members

By @Cobseo 55 years ago

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