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2019 Hizzy Memorial Run - motorcylist Steve Hislop in action

2019 Hizzy Memorial Run to help veterans in need

The 2019 Hizzy Memorial Run in the Scottish Borders will raise funds for veterans struggling with civilian life. On Sunday 25 August hundreds of motorcyclists will ride 150 miles in honour of former superbike champion and Hawick-born Steve ‘Hizzy’ Hislop.

“The local volunteers who help with the Memorial Run are asked to nominate charities to benefit from any money raised. We were put forward by one of our blue light veterans who is also a biker,” explains FirstLight Trust’s Hawick hub co-ordinator Caroline Brown. “We’re very grateful to be chosen, especially as we’ve only been here a year! Hawick is the charity’s first Scottish hub, joining five others across the UK. The public and veterans alike are welcome to pop into our relaxing High Street coffee bar.”

The event was started in 2003 by Alan Duffus Motorcycles. It’s now helped by Thos. B. Oliver garages where Steve served his apprenticeship and worked for eight years.

2019 is a particularly poignant year for the Run as it marks the 30th anniversary of Steve becoming the first ever rider to lap at over 120mph in the Isle of Man TT race. ‘Hizzy’ won the TT race eleven times and the British Superbike championship twice. He died in a helicopter accident in 2003 aged just 41 years old. The annual fundraising event is staged to keep Steve’s memory alive, attracting fellow racers such as Ian McVeighty and John McGuinness.

This year’s route starts in Denholm and takes in Cleikimin, Kelso, Coldstream, Duns and Gifford before stopping for lunch at Carfraemill. The riders then head to Heriot, Innerleithen, Selkirk and Hawick before returning to Denholm Green. Here riders and spectators can enjoy refreshments plus hear the raffle results, take part in the auction and find out who has won the Marshals Choice of machine Trophy.

“We’ll be at Denholm Green to greet the finishers,” adds Caroline. “Please say hello at our gazebo where you can buy some of our home-made treats and world-exclusive Sharpe’s merchandise, inspired by the soldier played by Sean Bean. All donations go towards helping former members of the armed forces and emergency services get back on track. This could be anything from dealing with red tape to just having someone to chat to. We never turn anyone away, we’re there for the long haul and there is no time limit on our support.”

Hawick’s FirstLight Trust hub is open Monday to Saturday 9am – 5pm at 1-3 High Street, Hawick TD9 9BZ containing Sharpe’s coffee bar serving hot drinks and home-made cakes.

For more details about the 17th Steve Hislop (Hizzy) Memorial Run please contact Wendy on 01450 870221 or email tboliver@btconnect.com

Hereford veterans hub - Lord Mayor, High Sheriff plus author Chris Ryan

New Hereford veterans hub is full of (Sean) beans

Hereford residents can now help a veteran by enjoying a cuppa. Last month the Sharpe’s establishment was officially opened by the High Sheriff of Herefordshire James Hervey-Bathurst Esq., CBE DL with the Lord Mayor of Hereford Councillor Kath Hey in attendance. This coffee bar is run by FirstLight Trust, a charity helping former members of the armed forces and emergency services adjust to civilian life. With delicious home-made cakes and coffees, Sharpe’s is a welcoming spot for the public and veterans of any rank or age.

“Many ex-military can feel isolated once they leave the forces or emergency services,” says Dorinda Wolfe Murray of FirstLight Trust. “So we run hubs which include coffee bars where veterans and civilians can relax. A warm welcome is guaranteed and every penny raised helps our work in giving back veterans pride and value.”

Sharpe’s on Broad Street is named after the Rifleman played on TV by Sean Bean. It offers exclusive coffee roasts, Yorkshire Tea and delicious home-baked treats such as scones and cakes. The Hereford hub is the charity’s newest, joining a network of support stretching from Scarborough to Lancaster, Gosport to Hawick. Events such as modelling clubs, book groups and quiz nights have already been well received by the local community.

The hub was only made possible by the generosity of a number of charitable trusts and foundations. The Utley Foundation provided funds towards renovations and the coffee machine.

Other vital renovations funds came from the Clive & Sylvia Richards Charity, Beatrice Laing Trust, E F Bulmer Benevolent Fund, Souter Charitable Trust, The Rowlands Trust, and The Guyll-Lleng Charitable Trust. The Eveson Charitable Trust provided funds towards a support worker.

 “We’ve been so grateful for the support of our donors, neighbours and fellow veteran charities and organisations,” adds Dorinda. “The cherry on the cake has been ex-SAS operative and best-selling author Chris Ryan posting on Instagram that we had “the best brew in Hereford.” We’d love to encourage as many Hereford locals as possible to follow in Chris’s footsteps and pop in to find out more!”

Sharpe’s can be found at 41-43 Broad Street, Hereford, HR4 9AR. It’s open Monday to Saturday 9am – 5pm. More details about our Hereford hub.

Paratrooper Garry's Armed Forces Day Challenge

Former paratrooper takes on Armed Forces Day Challenge

A Denholm-based army veteran is on a mission to help those who served in the armed forces and emergency services get back on their feet by raising £2,000 in a gruelling 15 mile run. Garry Booth is being helped to recover from his frontline experiences by the charity FirstLight Trust who run a support hub in Hawick for veterans.

“I want to conquer the three peaks of the Eildon Hills on Saturday 29 June, Armed Forces Day,” Garry explains. “I’ll be carrying an 80lb pack across 15 miles of uneven terrain. I won’t be training for the event or researching the route. This replicates how it would be on operations where you can’t predict what’s going to happen.”

Garry served in the military for 23 years in the regular army and reserves. He was posted on operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falklands. He now works for a local scaffolding company, while still serving with 4 Paras, a Territorial Army unit based in Edinburgh.

“Garry is one of around 30 local veterans we see regularly at our FirstLight Trust hub in Hawick,” explains the charity’s Scottish Regional Coordinator David Murray. “Many have adjustment issues as they have known nothing other than the military as adults.

“We are so proud of Garry for arranging this challenge. We hope people will support his efforts. He’s not just raising funds but also in raising awareness of the issues facing veterans here in the Borders and further afield.”

The Hawick hub was the charity’s first Scottish hub, opening in July 2018. It includes a coffee bar area to give veterans a place to relax, have a chat or get some support in an informal environment. It is also open to the public who can enjoy home-made cakes and hot drinks and treats. There are five more in England, and the charity hope to open more hubs in Scotland.

“I want to raise as much money as I can for FirstLight Trust who have been so supportive in the last few months.” Garry says. “After the hardships of army life, the rolling Eildon Hills will hopefully be like a walk in the park!”

Donations can be made to Garry’s fundraising campaign in person at the FirstLight Trust at 1-3 High Street, Hawick, at the Borders Pharmacy in Burnfoot or online at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/garry-booth

Scarborough veterans hub FirstLight Trust

National Lottery windfall to transform lives of Scarborough veterans

A charity helping former members of the armed forces and emergency services get back on their feet has just been awarded £350,000 by The National Lottery Community Fund. This organisation distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK.

“We’re over the moon to have been awarded this grant,” said Dorinda Wolfe Murray from FirstLight Trust. “Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to offer even more activities in Scarborough over the next three years. Healthy living and cooking demonstrations can take place in a new upstairs kitchen workshop in our hub. Plus our disused courtyard in Newborough can finally be transformed into a space for veterans and their families to learn more about gardening and food.”

Some of the new activities planned for Scarborough veterans will include walking groups, money management and computing courses plus crafting for all the family sessions. Additional activities will be delivered with the help of local organisations such as Stepney Hill Farm, Adult Learning and Skills Service, Everyone Active, Montessori School and Scarborough Council. A therapeutic service delivered through qualified clinicians will provide support and guidance.

The Sharpe’s café area is already popular with ex-service and emergency service personnel as well as the general public. It provides a quiet, Wifi-free place to chat and relax, with no distracting background music. By developing the courtyard, FirstLight Trust hopes to offer and outdoor space with tables and chairs to encourage more veterans and their children to visit.

“We hope the changes will allow at least 300 Scarborough veterans will feel less isolated and improve their physical and mental health,” Dorinda explains “For some this will mean they may even gain enough confidence and marketable skills to volunteer or return to work. This money will change lives.”

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About The National Lottery Community Fund

The largest community funder in the UK award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, they have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects benefitting millions of people.  

They say “We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.”

National Lottery links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagram

Royal to visit Lancaster veterans

Royal to visit Lancaster veterans

Excitement is mounting for one Lancaster charity in anticipation of a special visit to its veterans’ hub in June. On 5 June His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent will meet former members of the armed forces and emergency services supported by FirstLight Trust. They include regulars who attend fortnightly meet-ups at Sharpe’s on Market Street. The Duke will also meet with those who raised sponsorship funds through running last year’s Bay Gateway, Morecambe 10km, Pilling 10km and members of Team Flight who raced 30 miles while carrying a 30lb pack through Exmoor during Storm Callum.

“It’s a real honour to have the highest-ranking officer of the British Army, the Field Marshal himself, come to find out more about our work,” explains hub support coordinator Gary Parish and Team Flight’s leader. “Lancaster was the third hub to be set up by FirstLight Trust but it’s the first to receive a royal visit. It’s also great for the local community’s support to be recognised in this way. We couldn’t have achieved half of what we have without the help of organisations and businesses such as Burnley F.C., Strawberry Gardens Pub, The Market Cobbler, R. Preston’s Quality Butcher and countless others.”

The Duke of Kent graduated from Sandhurst and served as a second lieutenant and then a captain in the Royal Scots Greys. He was stationed in Hong Kong and Cyprus. His Royal Highness is also the Honorary Air Chief Marshal for the RAF. As well as coming to Lancaster, he will also be visiting Dig-In North West, Ashton Park Walled Garden, Rococo Café and the British Commercial Motor Museum in Leyland.

“We’re really interested in speaking to His Royal Highness about veteran care and support,” says Dorinda Wolfe Murray the founder of FirstLight Trust. “Here in Lancaster we provide a safe, welcoming space for veterans to ask advice, get support or just have some banter. We know he has a busy day, but we hope he will have room for a slice of one of our delicious home-made cakes and a cup of our coffee!”

Coronation Street star writes veterans play

Coronation Street star shines spotlight on veterans in new play

Actor Christine Mackie is used to walking the cobbles of Coronation Street or wearing period costume in Downton Abbey. However taking on the part of a playwright for real was a new departure. The result is Best Girl, which draws from her experience of losing her soldier father to suicide when she was a child. It was written for and now stars her daughter, actor Lois Mackie.

“My dad’s experience in WWII lead to PTSD (Post Traumatic Disorder) which just wasn’t talked about then,” explains Christine. “When I lost dad, I lost the belief in myself as being someone you’d stick around for, someone worthwhile. As a family we were left to get over his suicide with very little help. I’m really interested in how the children of veterans suffer from the trauma of conflict. That’s the starting point of my positive and hopeful play.”

The one-woman show follows twenty-something Annie in modern-day Manchester. Smart and funny, she still struggles with life until she finds love and the strength to seek out the help she needs through the NHS. A percentage of the play’s profits will go to FirstLight Trust, a charity helping those who served in the armed forces and emergency services and are struggling with civilian life.

“Best Girl absolutely underpins the work we want to do around secondary trauma, families and children,” says FirstLight Trust founder Dorinda Wolfe Murray. “The high suicide rate in veterans is unacceptable, with its impact shuddering through subsequent generations. We are so grateful to the Mackies for bringing this issue into the spotlight in such a moving and ultimately uplifting way.”

Oliver Award-nominated playwright April de Angelis calls Best Girl “a sharply written, moving, wise and witty play”. It will be performed at the Hope Aria Theatre at the Greater Manchester Fringe in July, before moving to the Edinburgh Fringe in August. The play was a finalist 2019 LET AWARDS and the team are now crowd funding for their Edinburgh run.

Lois Mackie adds: “Taking part in my first one-woman show is emotional and challenging in itself. The subject matter and family connection mean Best Girl is something really unique. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

Charity cycle ride in Gosport for D-Day anniversary

Clocking up the D-Day miles in Gosport

A plucky team of charity cyclists from Gosport are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings by cycling 75 miles. Jodie, Riah and Sam from the town’s FirstLight Trust veterans’ hub will be taking turns to ride 75 miles to raise as much money as possible for those who served.

“We pride ourselves on staging fun events and thinking up original ways to raise funds,” explains hub coordinator Riah. “We’ve held vintage afternoon teas, card-making sessions with schoolchildren and veterans and even jam-making. Such an iconic event as D-Day needed something special, which is why we’re doing this bike ride.”

The ride starts from the FirstLight Trust Gosport hub at 68 High Street at 9.45am on 26 May 2019. The women will ride to Stokes Bay and back as many times as is necessary to clock up 75 miles between them. Halfords in Gosport generously provided a free safety check for all the bikes involved to make sure they’re in tip-top condition. Meanwhile local firm Love Emma Design have donated high-visibility clothing to the team for free.

“We are so proud of our Gosport team,” says Dorinda Wolfe Murray, the founder of FirstLight Trust. “They always approach everything with such energy so we have every hope they’ll conquer this challenge too. Every penny raised will go towards helping former members of the armed forces and emergency services with issues such as mental health, debt, loneliness and more. Cycling 75 miles is literally going the extra mile to help our charity and we couldn’t be more grateful!”

Members of the public are encouraged to come along on Sunday 26 May to cheer the team on. There is also a static exercise bike in hub on Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 May from 9am to 10am for anyone who would like to keep fit for a good cause, kindly lent by Anytime Fitness Gosport. Donations can be made at the hub on Gosport High Street or online at:

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/firstlighttrustbikeride

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Notes to Editors

Gosport’s FirstLight Trust hub is open Monday to Saturday 9am – 5pm at 68 High Street, Gosport PO12 1DR. It contains Sharpe’s coffee bar serving hot drinks and home-made cakes.

Half Marathon for veterans - Buckingham Palace credit RB Create

Revving up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon to help veterans

Bromley resident Rose Bradbury is picking up pace for mental health awareness by running the Royal Parks Half Marathon, presented by Royal Bank of Canada, on 13 October. Having taken part in the Great North Run and the Bath Half, she aims to beat her personal best this autumn to raise funds for FirstLight Trust. This is the charity she works for which supports former members of the armed forces and emergency services in civilian life.

Rose has always admired those serving in the armed forces and emergency services, and particularly the risk they take every day to protect others. She also realises that, although the importance of good mental health is slowly gaining more awareness, there is still a great deal of stigma attached to mental health issues. In particular for men.

“Poor mental health is something I have personally struggled with in the past,” Rose explains. “I found that running became an invaluable tool for me and a form of relief from anxiety and stress. It seems fitting to use running to potentially help others gain support and improve their mental health too.”

FirstLight Trust offers a variety of services to help those who have served in the armed forces or emergency services and suffer from depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Street Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues. They provide a warm welcome for veterans who have struggled to find support elsewhere. Their six hubs across the UK provide a space to socialise, enjoy a coffee and a cake, as well as receive help and advice.

“We are really lucky to have someone as dedicated as Rose as part of our team,” says Dorinda Wolfe Murray, the founder of FirstLight Trust. “The Half Marathon takes place just a fortnight before our Stress Down Day on 25 October which promotes well-being across the population, not just veterans. We look forward to cheering her across the finish line!”

The 13.1 mile route of the Royal Parks Half Marathon takes in London’s world-famous landmarks and four of London’s eight Royal Parks. Approximately 16,000 runners taking part. Rose will post updates of her training on Instagram @firstlight_trust. Donations can be made online at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rosebradburyrpfhm201934781

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Notes to Editors

The charity FirstLight Trust runs hubs in Hawick, Hereford, Gosport, Lancaster, Redcar and Scarborough.

For more information, please email FirstLight Trust founder Dorinda Wolfe Murray at enquiries@firstlighttrust.co.uk or call 07464 828 049

For more details about The Royal Parks Half Marathon please look at https://royalparkshalf.com/

Loch Lomond - seen on hike to help Hawick veterans - copyright Katja S Verhoeven from Pixabay

Caroline’s hike to help Hawick veterans

Hawick’s Caroline Brown is heading for the hills later this month to support a hub for veterans in the town. She’s taking on the West Highland Way to raise funds for FirstLight Trust, a charity helping former members of the armed forces and emergency services adjust to civilian life.

“I joined FirstLight Trust last year as their hub co-ordinator,” says Caroline. “I’ve seen first-hand the amazing difference we make. Veterans have said to me that we make their lives easier, that they’re glad we’re here. We never turn anyone away, we’re there for the long haul and there is no time limit on our support.”

The first hub in Scotland, Hawick is one of the charity’s six hubs across the UK offering support to veterans. No appointment is needed and the hubs are open every day except Sundays. The double as a café for the public and veterans alike. Trained staff help with issues such as dealing with red tape, form filling and debt management. They also offer deeper support with settling back in to civilian life after service, addiction, depression, anxiety and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

“Caroline has been such an inspiration for our Hawick veterans,” says Dorinda Wolfe Murray, the founder of FirstLight Trust. “She’s helped set up crafts fairs, stalls at the Trinity Gardens Christmas market, Remembrance Sunday commemorations and a Burns Lunch. Walking 96 miles really is above and beyond her job description, but we’re proud to support her every step of the way!”

The West Highland Way stretches 96 miles (154 km) from Milngavie to Fort William. Its terrain ranges from loch shores to steep mountains. Caroline will start walking the week-long route on 25 April with her friend Sonja and fellow walkers are welcome to join them, even if it’s just for part of the walk. Donations can be made online at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/caroline-brown59 or in person at the hub on Hawick High Street.

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Notes to Editors

Hawick’s FirstLight Trust hub is open Monday to Saturday 9am – 5pm at 1-3 High Street, Hawick TD9 9BZ. It contains Sharpe’s coffee bar serving hot drinks and home-made cakes.

You can find out more about this iconic Scottish trail on the West Highland Way website.

Header image is of Loch Lomond on West Highland Way by Katja S. Verhoeven from Pixabay

Scarborough D-Day - memorial seat overlooking harboour

A+ for Scarborough school’s D-Day initiative for veterans

To mark the 75th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings in June, a Scarborough school has teamed up with a local veterans’ charity. St. Augustine’s encouraged pupils, parents and staff to donate a carrier bag each of items to help raise money for those who served in the armed forces and emergency services.

“We wanted to demonstrate our support and respect for our local armed forces and emergency services veterans,” explains teacher Mark Winspear. “So we asked our school community to bring in unwanted clothing, bric-a-brac, books, CDs, DVDs and toys that could be sold in FirstLight Trust’s shop on Newborough. The response has been amazing with more than 60 bags and £85 being donated.”

FirstLight Trust offers support for veterans and their families. They help with accommodation, food, training, gaining access to appropriate medical treatment or simply a chance to talk things through. Next door to the charity shop is the hub, containing Sharpe’s coffee bar serving hot drinks and home-made cakes. Here veterans and the public alike are welcome to relax.

“There are around 2,700 former armed forces personnel living in the Scarborough area alone,” explains charity founder Dorinda Wolfe Murray. “So we are really grateful to St. Augustine’s for their astounding initiative. It’s so also important for the next generation to be aware of the sacrifices made by those who have gone before them. We hope some of the students will pop by to visit us on Newborough and our stand at Armed Forces Day on 29 June.”

Scarborough was the charity’s first UK hub, opening in 2015. Since then similar hubs have been launched in Gosport, Hawick, Hereford, Lancaster and Redcar. The coffee bars contained within the hubs are named after Major Richard Sharpe, the fictional soldier played on TV by Yorkshire actor Sean Bean. Permission to use the iconic name was granted by the charity’s patron, author Bernard Cornwell.

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Notes to Editors

The FirstLight Trust hub and shop are at 63 and 64 Newborough, Scarborough.

More details about FirstLight Trust are available at www.firstlighttrust.co.uk

More details about St. Augustine’s can be found at staugs.co.uk

For more information, please email FirstLight Trust founder Dorinda Wolfe Murray at enquiries@firstlighttrust.co.uk or call 07464 828 049

House plans - to illustrate Annington donation press release

Veterans’ charity builds for the future

A leading veterans’ charity is hiring their first ever Operations Manager thanks to the help of Annington, the company who owns the Ministry of Defence’s Married Quarters Estate.

FirstLight Trust runs six coffee bar hubs, open to veterans and the public alike, in Gosport, Lancaster, Hawick, Hereford, Redcar and Scarborough. They offer a place for veterans and their families to socialise and seek support in an informal atmosphere. Sales of hot drinks and home-made cakes help raise funds for the charity. The charity’s hubs also organise events and activities for veterans, ranging from Remembrance Day lunches to regular gardening sessions.

“With so many hubs across the UK, it’s more important than ever to have the infrastructure in place to support them,” explains FirstLight Trust’s founder Dorinda Wolfe Murray. “A full-time Operations Manager is crucial to our continued success. Annington’s help means we can employ a talented individual to deliver projects, work with partnership organisations and recruit, nurture and develop our close-knit team of colleagues to provide the best possible help for our veterans.”

Annington has supported FirstLight Trust, a charity for former members of the emergency services and armed forces, since 2016. A team from the company raised money walking the 25 km-long Thames Bridges Trek. Now the company are enabling the charity to add the key role of Operations Manager to their team.

“Our staff are genuinely interested in the work FirstLight Trust does supporting veterans at grass-roots level. The charity’s high street cafes help provide on-the-ground immediate support that has been life-saving,” says Helen Liddell, Chair of Annington. “We are delighted that our donation will enable such a vital appointment. It will help the charity build on the great work they are doing amongst the veteran community, supporting those who have served.”

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Notes to Editors

For more details about FirstLight Trust, please email Dorinda Wolfe Murray at enquiries@firstlighttrust.co.uk, call 07464 828 049 or go online at www.firstlighttrust.co.uk

Annington

Annington is one of the largest private owners of residential property in the UK with over 40,000 homes across England and Wales. To date, they have helped over 17,000 people purchase their own home, many of whom were first time buyers, service personnel and key workers.

Annington’s portfolio is unique in the private rental sector. While their homes range in style and size from one-bedroom apartments through to eight-bedroom houses, the majority of their properties are detached, semi-detached and terraced family homes with gardens. Annington’s developments are often set in much more open space than you might find elsewhere, especially when compared to modern developments.

Annington has more than 20 years’ experience as a private landlord and specialises in truly affordable family homes. They are one of the few private sector organisations with experience at scale in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and believe that their model can play an important role in addressing the UK’s current housing shortage. Annington was formed in 1996 with the purchase of 57,434 homes from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and properties leased to the MoD to house military families continue to represent a large proportion of their portfolio.

More details about Annington’s charitable activity can be found at: www.annington.co.uk/corporate-responsibility/annington-group-charitable-activity

Hereford veterans charity skydive

Lynne’s leap for Hereford veterans

Hereford’s Lynne Gladwin is reaching for the skies to support a new hub for veterans in the city. After seeing the Northern Lights in January, skydiving was next on Lynne’s bucket list. She’s performing her first ever tandem skydive to raise funds for FirstLight Trust, a charity helping former members of the armed forces and emergency services adjust to civilian life.

Lynne herself served in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps. Her eldest son is in the Rifles and she already runs two Armed Forces and Veteran Breakfast Clubs in Leominster and Hereford. For the past two years she’s volunteered with veterans, signposting them to the best support on offer. Lynne now joins FirstLight Trust as a support worker in their forthcoming Hereford hub.

“When the job opportunity came up with FirstLight Trust, it seemed a natural choice for me,” says Lynne. “I get to help blue light and service veterans full time in a job I’m passionate about. Not many people can say they love going to work. I’m very fortunate.”

The Hereford veterans’ hub will combine a community space and coffee bar for veterans and the public alike. It is the charity’s sixth UK hub, joining other Sharpe’s establishments in Gosport, Hawick, Lancaster, Redcar and Scarborough. They aim to serve hot drinks and home-made cakes at reasonable prices in a friendly atmosphere where veterans can chat. The coffee bars are named after Major Richard Sharpe, the fictional soldier famously played on TV by Hollywood actor Sean Bean. Permission to use the iconic name has been granted by the charity’s patron, author Bernard Cornwell.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have someone as experienced as Lynne to join our Hereford team,” says Dorinda Wolfe Murray, the founder of FirstLight Trust. “The fact that she is a veteran herself means she already understands the culture of the armed forces in a way no civilian can. Jumping out of a plane wasn’t in her job description, but we are very grateful for her sponsorship!”

During the freefall section, Lynne will reach speeds of 120 mph, or one thousand feet every five seconds. Once the parachute is deployed, she will slow to one thousand feet per minute. Lynne’s leap is scheduled for Sunday 3 March over Swindon. Update: bad weather means it will now take place in the middle of May, weather permitting.

Donations can be made online at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Lynne-gladwin1