Veterans and armed service personnel can now come together and support each other with bacon butties, brews and banter.
On Saturday, the newest Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club opened in New Mills and more than 50 people came out to support the event.
The meeting was held at The Pride of the Peaks, on Market Street. Landlady Shelley Hagen said: “It was busier than I thought it would be which means it must be needed around here.
“It was a lovely morning and everyone was chatting about where they had served. There was a great mix of young and old all together, and a real sense of community.”
To celebrate the launch, all the breakfasts were served-up free of charge with support from Booker’s.
Shelley said: “They heard about what we were doing and contacted us. They said they wanted to help make a difference and offered to foot the bill, which was just lovely.”
The breakfast meetings are now popping up all over the country, with the first being launched in Hull by Dereck Hardman.
Speaking about the New Mills launch, he said: “When you leave the Armed Forces you lose not just a job, your income, your home, your work clothes; usually around 1,500 friends and you lose your identity in many respects. In short, your entire way of life has to change.
“When men and women leave the Armed Forces, the reality is, other than their own families in their home towns, there really isn’t anyone physically there for them.
“They are alone, and the isolation is something they never really experienced in the forces. They were always part of a team.
“In my experience, the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, are minimalised during service, because of the mutual support of those in your unit, but after your service is over, the isolation the veterans tend to feel magnifies underlying psychological issues like Combat PTSD.
“The Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs are life-changing for many. We have many, many examples of veterans who have said that it has radically changed their lives for the better. This network is becoming a real physical safety net, which simply did not exist before, to catch those that have left the Armed Forces.
High Peak MP Ruth George attended the New Mills launch and met with veterans and serving armed forces personnel.
She said: “This is a great initiative bringing people together who understand and support each other.
“I have dealt with a few cases of service personnel coming to me with specialist issues who cannot access the right support through their GPs. Whether it is someone who has suffered the physical injuries of serving, or someone dealing with the mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, these are not problems their normal doctors see on a regular basis.
“It is the wonderful work of charities such as Combat Stress, working with the North Derbyshire CCG, which has recently recommitted to the armed forces covenant, which can provide help and support to those serving or veterans. The breakfast is a great starting point to provide support not just for them but their families and partners too, and I hope it continues.”
n The New Mills Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club meets on the third Saturday of every month at The Pride of the Peaks from 10am. No booking is required.