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New group welcomes armed forces veterans

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A new group will welcome armed forces veterans in Stroud.

Meeting on the first Saturday of each month, Stroud and District Veterans Breakfast Club meets at 9am at The Old Nelson in Stratford Road and veterans of all ages, gender and all military services are invited.

“We have a raffle, a quid a head, and people can bring a bottle or a book as prizes, so there are no overheads, and the money that builds up is used for things like trips to The National Memorial or to fund a Christmas dinner,” explained former submariner Shaun ‘Tug’ Wilson, one of the organisers.

Armed forces group 2 | New group welcomes armed forces veterans
The group welcomes veterans of all ages.

Veterans groups were first set up around a decade ago and have spread across the country, with a group in Gloucester regularly attracting 60-70 members.

“It gets everybody together, particularly older fellows and the older ladies, it gets them out, a bit of socialising, a bit of networking and the plan going forward we’ll probably be organising darts and pool nights, a quiz night, maybe with other groups at another pub,” said Shaun.

A previous weekday group in Stroud began with four people and quickly outgrew the venue, and the new Saturday group means ex-military people who work during the week can attend.

Armed forces group 3 | New group welcomes armed forces veterans
From left: Alan Dowdeswell, Chris Blick, Rick Rutter and Ruth Aldridge.

“I’ve only been out of the army for five years and I still miss the camaraderie, the banter and stuff like that. Work wise, no, I don’t miss that at all, but it’s basically meeting up with different cultures, different services and just getting on and having a laugh,” said Matt Dickman.

“I did 22 years in the years in the army in the Armoured Corps. I reached sergeant major and like I said, I left five years ago and I missed it – I missed the camaraderie. I went through a bit of a bad patch a couple years ago and it was guys like these here that picked me up.

“If we can help just one person then this club has achieved its aim. It’s just a question of sitting down and having a chat, but blokes being blokes don’t like to speak to doctors, but I could speak to any of the guys if I wasn’t feeling well as they’re on the same wavelength – they’d understand,” explained Matt.

The group meets at 9am for around an hour and a half, and anyone interested can just turn up on the day and enjoy a breakfast and the camaraderie.

Armed forces group 4 | New group welcomes armed forces veterans
Veterans Mick Thomas, Dave Rugman and Richard Smith.

“Depending on what’s going on, some of us might stay on afterwards and have a few drinks in the bar and just chat,” said Matt.

“Anyone who rocks up will be made more than welcome,” added Shaun.

For more details email: stroudveteransbreakfast@gmail.com

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