Forgotten Veterans UK charity opens two new yurts at Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth and dedications made to D-Day veteran
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Charity Forgotten Veterans UK (FVUK), in Eastney, provides support to those in need at the basher camp – aiming to improve the facility every year.
One of the yurts is dedicated to Arthur Bailey, 97, a paratrooper who survived the bloody invasion of Normandy, on June 6, 1944.
Bill Butcher, media and public relations manager for FVUK, said the turnout in excess of 100 people was excellent.
He told The News: ‘It was fantastic that so many people turned up.
‘Given the fact it was bitterly cold as well, everybody stayed and joined in with the event.
‘They could see the reasons behind what we’re doing here.’
The two Mongolian style yurts will provide all-weather and all-year round accommodation for veterans.
After months of discussions with Historic England in 2020, FVUK have them ready for use.
Lady Mayoress Joy Maddox cut the ribbon to officially open the facility.
The Fort Cumberland Guard, a group of re-enactors, also fired a musket volley during proceedings.
Ceremonial colours were also lowered at the unveiling.
FVUK provide extensive peer to peer support for military veterans, including mental health counselling.
People are also sign posted to other support services.
Mr Butcher said the charity offers ‘as much guidance and support to people as we can’, and the ceremony showed people the work they do.
He added: ‘As people learn more about us by word of mouth, they realise we can be trusted implicitly to help people and work with them.
‘We are person centred, they are the focus of the support and we work with them to do what they feel they need.’
FVUK has seen a sharp increase in demand over the last year.
In 2021, the number of visitors to Fort Cumberland was 3,530, an increase of 65 per cent.
Of that number, 70 per cent of them were veterans seeking help from the charity.
They have also faced a surge in suicidal people coming forward, with the organisation’s head, Gary Weaving, saying two veterans supported by the charity took their own lives.
Mr Butcher said the repeated Covid lockdowns and the Afghan withdrawal may have caused the spike, and the charity is always there to help.
He added: ‘PTSD, whether someone has been diagnosed with it, is an insidious mental health situation.
‘It creeps up on you after a number of years and a lot of people, particularly male and army based, are too macho to admit there is a problem.
‘It takes them a while to realise that they are having an issue, then longer to realise they need to ask for help and accept the fact that they need it.’
D-Day hero Arthur Bailey is one of the people now working with FVUK, arriving at the unveiling despite being unwell.
Mr Butcher said: ‘We have been working with Arthur for a while.
‘Being a bloody-minded senior veteran, he didn’t want help from anybody, but Gary has a way of communicating with people and I think Arthur respected that.
‘He knew we wouldn’t do anything to interfere with his independence, we just wanted to help him.
‘His support is something we all appreciate.’