Transformed Retreat going from strength to strength
By hardingsimon | Monday, September 09, 2013, 14:57
Military charity Afghan Heroes has moved its office operation from
Military charity Afghan Heroes celebrates its fourth anniversary this weekend at the Somerset Retreat
Evercreech to Ashcott next to the recently refurbished Somerset Retreat.
The move follows an extensive overhaul of the facilities both inside and
outside which has seen the bars, restaurant and skittle alley transformed.
It is now providing a home for five former service personnel.
Afghan Heroes founder Denise Harris said work on the outside of the
Somerset Retreat had been completed just in time for this weekend's fourth
Eight months on since launching the first Retreat Denise said: "We are
continuing to work 24/7 finding stable homes for these lads, providing a
new start for former services personnel finding it difficult to re-adjust to
life away from the armed forces."
The original Somerset Retreat is full while work continues at the
second, the Smuggled Retreat in Blue Anchor near Minehead, in readiness for a
planned intake of soldiers in the Autumn.
The two Somerset locations will become the templates for a series of up
to a dozen Retreats the charity is planning around the country.
Denise said: "We now have five lads staying at the Somerset
Retreat and have already supported two others. We are hoping to have
another five rooms on stream at the Smuggled Retreat by the end of the year
with further Retreats coming online early in 2014."
All proceeds from the bar and restaurant operations downstairs go
towards supporting the young men and women putting their lives back on track
The unique concept has proved tremendously popular with customers from
all over Somerset - as well as the former military personnel the charity was
determined to help.
The charity's administrative base has also been switched to Ashcott along
with a new telephone number – 01458 211167.
Denise said: "We are thrilled everything has finally come together at
Ashcott as it enables us to concentrate on finding answers for some of these
lads staying with us. But there are hundreds of other former servicemen still
living in dire conditions we need to contact.
"The last lad we took on was literally living on the streets and
couldn't believe his ears when we invited him to take a room at the Somerset
"He couldn't grasp he would have his own bed and his own TV and have the
chance to relax with fellow servicemen who share and appreciate his
difficulties and know where he is coming from."
Denise and husband Andy are already looking at a number
of potential Retreats as far afield as the North West, South Shields,
Scotland, Wales and Wiltshire.
In the meantime the extra manpower on hand has enabled the charity to
completely transform the Somerset Retreat from rundown country pub to go-to
Former services personnel have helped transform the overgrown gardens
and cleared two paddocks at the Ashcott facility. Tons of topsoil has been
levelled and the vegetable garden is already providing produce for the
busy Somerset Retreat chefs.
Retreat residents have been working alongside teams of workers and
volunteers drafted in to upgrade the exterior paintwork, fittings and
restore the run-down skittle alley to its former glory in time for the
charity's Third Anniversary Ball on Saturday September 14.
Denise said: "We wanted to make sure all the grounds were in tip-top
condition before we set up the marquees."
Popstar Kavana will top the bill with sixties crooner Tony
Christie at the black tie event alongside popular Somerset
singer Tim Pitman.
Tickets for the black tie event at £75 each are available by
contacting www.trueheroes.org.uk or the Somerset Retreat
Issued on behalf of Afghan Heroes by Empica. For further
information contact Laurence Phillips or Simon Harding on 01275