VIPs Brett Squires Travelled to Burnley on Wednesday 8th April 2014 to visit some local Veterans charities. Here he describes how it went.
20 QUID, 20 QUID for a return ticket to Barnsley or was it Burnley? Wherever it is that’s daylight robbery. Emily had to remind me it was Burnley and off I went.
Sue gave me £2:50 for my bus fare but I walked so I could get something to eat, 2 pies from the pound bakery, something proper healthy for breakfast!
We set off on time, got comfy and reading my free Metro paper. Ate one of my pies and bottle of water and was admiring the view when to my amazement we came to a station which was a REQUEST STOP! Never heard of it but apparently you have to put your hand out to stop the train like you do with the bus.
Belinda, from military veterans IAPT met me at Burnley central and we set off for a charity called Salute. Inside we were made to feel very welcome, I was introduced to everybody and met a woman called Aleen Hutchinson who along with her husband was very keen to help veterans.
I was told how they help from the minute they walk through the door with any problems that the veteran is having, be it homelessness, addiction, mental health issues or just for some company and a brew, (or back in Liverpool we call it saving on your own gas and leccy). Got a tour of the building, which is very nice and I got a real sense people liked being there. Thanked everybody and off we went to our next location Veterans in Communities in Haslingden.
On the way there all I could think about was my pie which was in Belinda’s boot (of her car, not the one on her foot).I was proper starving, however I had a job to do the pie could wait. Again I was given a warm welcome, this time by a lady called Suzanne Preston. Suzanne told me how VIC operates and some of the projects that they are doing at the moment. On the day I went they had some veterans on a dry stone wall course preparing them for next week where they will be helping some of the local community rebuild the local war memorial. Excellent work I think. I also met Steve who was one of the veterans and who now works there part time and like myself is sponsored by the poppy factory. He also is very passionate about helping veterans and gave up most of his Christmas along with others to get the building ready in time for opening in the New Year.
Back in the car I could only think of one thing, the sweaty pie in my day sack in the boot of the car. Belinda took me on the scenic route back, but really I think she was lost. Got to Accrington train station at 15:30 and it was shut, I had a half hour wait so we went for a brew in Tesco’s café, where the pie was released and I threw it in the microwave.
On the train journey home I was reflecting on my day in Burnley and the charities Salute and Veterans in communities, both operate very differently but both have one common purpose, and that is to help veterans young and old to which I say thank you, you should be very proud