Published: 06:00, 14 October 2019
| Updated: 06:58, 14 October 2019
A military charity's fundraising efforts for a new village to support hundreds of ex-service personnel has received a huge boost.
The Aylesford-based Royal British Legion Industries is aiming to build a Centenary Village to celebrate 100 years of employment, training, accommodation, care and support for veterans.
First formed in 1919 to provide support to sick and wounded soldiers returning from the First World War, it launched a £22 million appeal to build the village and support families through new adapted homes, nursing care, mental health support and access to the RBLI's on-site employability services.
Now, the charity is three-quarters of the way to meeting its target, thanks to a £2m donation from Greenwich Hospital.
It mean work will begin later this year on the development which will include 22 apartments, each designed to be fully accessible and house single veterans in urgent need, 16 new family homes, and a further 24 assisted-living apartments.
At the heart of the new development, which will sit alongside RBLI’s existing village, care homes and manufacturing facility, will be a state-of-the-art community centre with accessible gym.
Greenwich Hospital, which traces its history back to 1694, is one of the oldest military charities in the country and supports serving and retired Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their dependants with benevolence support, educational bursaries, sheltered housing schemes and vital outreach projects across the UK.
In recognition of its donation, the assisted living building at the new Centenary Village will be named‘Greenwich House.
John Gamp, Greenwich Hospital’s charity operations director, said: “Providing a better life for veterans of our Armed Forces – of both young and older generations – is one of the most important issues for society. We can do much more to help people with disabilities and health conditions continue to thrive.
"RBLI’s Centenary Village, which will offer a truly intergenerational veteran community, is leading the way in tackling this pressing issue.
“We are delighted to be partnering with RBLI to deliver these amazing facilities and excellent care services.
"It is RBLI’s 100 years’ experience and commitment that has created a true community where vulnerable older people can thrive and enjoy independent and busy lives, and where they can mix with veterans of working age, who are also overcoming health issues and gaining marketable skills.
“We can’t wait for Greenwich House to open its doors and create a new home for veterans of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, and all other areas of the Armed Forces, who need more support to live independently.”
Lisa Farmer, RBLI’s director of strategic development, added: “More adapted homes for veterans of all ages from all three services are urgently needed and the Centenary Village will be a place to call home for veterans from all four corners of the UK. We are incredibly grateful for this donation from Greenwich Hospital.
“This substantial contribution means we are able to start building this year, and highlights the success that can be achieved in collaboration, and the enduring bonds between military charities that support former service personnel. This bond will be forever commemorated by the creation of Greenwich House.”
The KM is helping the RBLI raise another £2m for the project and says that if every one of the 1.1 million adults currently living across Kent were to donate just £2, this crucial project would be fully-funded - with change to spare for the charity's other worthy causes.
That’s why the KM is running its ‘Not 2 Much 2 Ask’ campaign - to encourage everyone to donate £2 by the end of the year and ensure this fantastic scheme, for our 2019 Charity of the Year, reaches its potential.
To donate £2, text ‘HOME’ to 70660* or visit rbli.co.uk/not2much2ask.
*Messages will be charged at £2 plus your standard network rate. You must be 16 years old and have the bill payer’s consent.
More by this authorTom Pyman