Centre holding out helping hand to forces veterans PHOTOS

The opening of the Ryde Veterans' Hub lounge.
The opening of the Ryde Veterans' Hub lounge.

The granddaughter of Second World War forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn alongside a D-Day veteran cut the ribbon to open a new facility for veterans in Ryde.

The Veterans’ Lounge in Ryde opened its doors in December last year — the first centre of its kind on the Isle of Wight — and has now expanded with a first floor refurbished with veteran well-being in mind.

Cutting the ribbon were Tesni Jones, Dame Vera Lynn’s granddaughter; and Roy Hayward, D-day veteran.

Michael Lilley, mayor of Ryde, also attended.

Isle of Wight County Press: Cllr Michael Lilley, mayor of Ryde.
Isle of Wight County Press: Cllr Michael Lilley, mayor of Ryde.

Cllr Michael Lilley, mayor of Ryde.

Founder Dale Hillier and manager Mick O’Leary both made speeches, thanking their many supporters.

Upstairs at the hub there is now a room for counselling or speaking with a veteran in confidence, plus a room with massage chairs to boost morale and offer a relaxation area.

Mr Hillier said: "We are very proud to be welcoming so many ex servicemen and women today.

"This project has become a real passion for Mick and I, and we are delighted to share our new space with everyone today."

Mr O’Leary said: "We do have a great bit of banter here, and a great laugh and I think we have achieved a lot.

Isle of Wight County Press: The opening of the Veterans Lounge. . Manager Mick O’Leary; Dame Vera Lynn’s granddaughter, Tesni Jones ; D-day veteran, Roy Hayward; Founder and Patron, Dale Hillier .
Isle of Wight County Press: The opening of the Veterans Lounge. . Manager Mick O’Leary; Dame Vera Lynn’s granddaughter, Tesni Jones ; D-day veteran, Roy Hayward; Founder and Patron, Dale Hillier .

The opening of the Veterans Lounge. . Manager Mick O’Leary; Dame Vera Lynn’s granddaughter, Tesni Jones ; D-day veteran, Roy Hayward; Founder and Patron, Dale Hillier .

"We’ve found a few veterans have been made homeless and we want to find some accommodation, so that if a veteran comes to us for help. we can find them that short-term place to stay."

Cllr Lilley said: "There are a lot of people who talk about things, and then there are do-ers.

"Dale had this vision of a normal place in the community, part of the high street, for people to feel comfortable to come to.

"I’m extremely proud Ryde Town Council has signed up to the covenant and the hub has the total support of this council and this mayor."