Paul Bennison (left) with Ian Ridley (right)
An Oxfordshire military veteran support group is keeping things cool, thanks to a special donation from housebuilder Bovis Homes.
Heyford and Bicester Veterans Group, which supports ex-army veterans, reservists and their families from across the area, has been given a new fridge-freezer to help with the catering of its numerous events.
“We were delighted to support the Heyford and Bicester Veterans Group and we hope this helps to support the great work they do,” says Bovis Homes’ regional marketing manager, Paul Bennison. “We understand how important this group is for many of its members, so we were only too pleased to help.”
The group meets once a month in Upper Heyford community centre, giving local veterans a chance to seek advice, confidential support and have a catch-up. Information is on hand from a range of services and charities, such as Combat Stress, The Royal British Legion and seAp Advocacy. In addition to the monthly meeting, the group also runs a Thursday dinner club, social events such as barbeques and organises food parcels during the Christmas period.
“The new fridge-freezer has been a huge help and has allowed us to improve the support and services we offer,” says Tracy Ridley, who runs the group with her husband, Ian. “It’s helped us to organise our food storage and improve efficiency, which has helped save on cost and time.”
Ian, who left the military in 2013, and Tracy began the group in 2015 when they discovered that there were no support groups for ex-military in the local area. The group started with just six members, and over the years has now grown to over 40.
“The group provides members with the chance to get out of the house and have a catch-up with other veterans,” says Tracy. “They may just come here for a cup of coffee and a chat, but we also invite representatives from a range of services to the meetings so attendees can get further help if they need it. We hold lots of events and activities, which can help to give some of our members a sense of purpose and focus.”