A special Platinum Jubilee event for isolated, lonely and vulnerable veterans is to be held in North Cumbria next week.
Nearly a hundred ex-service men and women from the local area, Lancashire, the South of Scotland, Northumberland and North Yorkshire are set to attend the Celebration Tea event at Penrith’s North Lakes Hotel.
The Michelle Jurd Trust, founded in 2011 by Neil Jurd, in memory of his wife, a helicopter pilot in the RAF who tragically died in a car crash, are running the free to attend event and are inviting all veterans to come along.
It is being held for veterans who have served in the armed forces and the merchant navy, with some expected to be as young as 40 while others are in their late 80s.
Brian Gregory is chair of The Michelle Jurd Trust, who have put over £4,000 towards the event and worked with numerous other charities.
He said: “Having served as a Scots Guardsman myself, making an impact in the veteran community has a significant meaning to me.
“The money from our generous donors needs to get to the people that will really benefit from it, we at the Trust are the conduit between donors and recipients.
“Many veterans don’t like asking for help, their pride often preventing them, I understand that, so at the Trust we know it’s about making sure veterans feel comfortable so they can enjoy our donors generosity.”
“It’s being held in Penrith as we’ve not, as a Trust, spent as much time focusing on the north of Cumbria.
“This event has broadened our network and put us in touch with many more military charities that work at grass roots level, and will increase our ability to support more veterans in the north of Cumbria in 2023.”
The event is organised in association with the Not Forgotten charity, with a number of others also supporting it including the FirstLight Trust.
Starting at 1.30pm on Thursday September 1, guests will be welcomed with a glass of prosecco, and then a group of entertainers will perform an hour-long Platinum Jubilee show, followed by a traditional afternoon tea during which veterans can reminisce and relax before departing from 4.30pm.
Bridget Green, support worker and activities caseworker with the FirstLight Trust, has helped arrange for eight veterans to attend from Lancaster.
She said: “It will be a fabulous afternoon for all of them. One of our veterans was very active until two months ago but he’s wheelchair bound and struggles with just standing up.
“He’s such a lovely man, doesn’t have any close family and often won’t see anyone but a carer who’s in a rush most days.
“He doesn’t open up easily, but instantly when asked he said yes to going and with such a smile on his face.
“We offer a lot of different support but often the ones who really need it are hard to reach as they’re proud people who struggle along alone.
“Events like this can help them reconnect and open up so we can also help them moving forward.”
“I’ll be travelling with two of our veterans on the day, it’s great that the Michelle Jurd Trust are running it, and the FirstLight Trust are very grateful to Brian for organising some special funding towards our wheelchair taxi.”
To find out more about the event, or to donate, visit https://michellejurdtrust.org/, call the trust on 07808-028-434 or visit https://thenotforgotten.org/event/afternoon-tea-north-lakes-hotel/