On Sunday, millions of people across the UK will come together in a momentary pause to remember the service men and women that sacrificed their lives, who’s bravery went beyond words, to protect our nation. We spoke to ex-servicemen Gavin and Peter about their time in the forces, what Remembrance Day means to them and how people can pay their respects this week.
Gavin Jones’ military journey began in 1989, and at the age of 19 he was deployed to the Gulf War. Service to HM Forces was Gavin’s dream since he was 15, yet his 8-year career was cut short after suffering a fractured skull and blood clot to the brain off-duty. 10 years of physio, speech therapy and re-education later and Gavin’s work supporting thousands of military veterans across the North-West is recognised by central and local governments alike.
“I studied 5 years of psychology, and in-doing so came to terms with my own trauma that I was holding onto for several years. Now working with Disability Stockport, I can connect with ex-servicemen and ensure they receive the right support to get back on track. For me, it's making sure that people see the person before the disability”
Gavin heads a drop-in centre twice every month with Stockport Homes at their HQ, Cornerstone. He hopes the partnership can deliver on more resources for veterans in the borough:
“Stockport Homes have been brilliant, they’re by far the best partnership I have worked with. Not only are they really supportive and proactive, but they’re on board. We're in the process of creating a series of skills for life courses here, equipping veterans with the tools to go back into the community with confidence.”
So, what does Remembrance Day mean to you?
“Remembrance Day to me is more than just one day, it’s every day. However, it’s a great way for the public to show their respects”
Peter first joined the military in 1971 with the Royal Navy, embarking on a 9-year career specialising in radar that took him across the world before his last tour on HMS Rhyll completed in 1980.
“I initially joined the forces because of the lack of opportunities for 18-year-olds at the time. It was difficult to explain to my family that I’ll be going away for a while and you can’t say for certain how long that will be, but I feel immense pride to have served.”
Peter now has an active role in the community supporting military veterans back into civilian life, particularly through his roles as chairman of a local Royal Naval Association, and committee member for the Armed Forces Covenant with Stockport Council.
“We’ve found that for ex-servicemen to open-up, they need someone they can relate to and engage with. Our work helps to break down barriers and support them through particularly bad times”
What does Remembrance Day mean to you?
“It really hits me hard. For all the friends that I lost in the Falklands, and before that. Yes, it is very, very hard. If you’ve been there and worn the t-shirt, you can see what life is like. A lot of people who attend remembrance can’t see it through our eyes.”
Paying your respects this year
Customers are welcome to attend and observe a two-minute silence on Armistice Day, Friday, 11 November. At 11am, the Mayor of Stockport, Councillor David Wilson, will observe the silence on the steps of Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, Wellington Road South, Stockport, SK3 8AB.
On Remembrance Sunday, The Mayor of Stockport will lead the borough in paying respects at the Civic Act of Remembrance. At precisely 11am, there will be a two-minute silence, beginning with the Last Post and ending with the Reveille. Following prayers, hymns and reflections, wreaths will be laid on the steps of the War Memorial. The Art Gallery will be open from 9.30am on Sunday, 13 November, for people to pay their respects. Find out more via Stockport Councils website
Armed Forces Support
We can provide advice and assistance to current and former members of the armed forces that are struggling with their tenancy, require additional housing support or are seeking employment.