Turf was cut today (Tuesday 6th June) at Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) Centenary Village at Hermitage Lane in Aylesford to mark the construction of new welfare facilities and housing at the largest housing development for Armed Forces veterans in the UK.
The spade, last used by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, was put in the ground by Barney Haugh CBE, Director of Grants & Welfare at ABF The Soldiers’ Charity with Lisa Farmer, Chief Executive of RBLI and RBLI’s Armed Forces veterans Callum McCloskey, Ashley Morgan and Falklands veteran and RBLI Ambassador Steve Hammond.
The turf cutting marked the commencement of construction on the next stage of development to build a community centre that will become the central welfare hub of RBLI’s Centenary Village. Once completed the building will include a state-of-the-art accessible gym, café, and IT learning suite.
The building will also provide a base where RBLI’s welfare staff will work with veterans and their families. Meeting rooms there will provide a central space for RBLI’s training staff to deliver its award winning Lifeworks employment support programme that helps veterans and their families into meaningful employment. The turf cutting also marked the start of construction on a house of multiple occupancy and more move on apartments for homeless veterans.
Lisa Farmer, Chief Executive of RBLI said, “We’re delighted to mark this exciting step in the construction of our Centenary Village and would like to thank the organisations that so generously donated to make this latest stage of construction a reality. Our Centenary Village is already a thriving community, but the ABF Community Centre will provide a central hub and welfare base to bring everyone together for support, health, and fitness. RBLI’s founding principle is to provide practical help to veterans who have served their country and are in need, and the Centenary Village supports that belief.”
The organisations that made donations for the construction of RBLI’s Centenary Village are Kent based The Lawson Trust, Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, and Crabtree. Donations came from national organisations ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Michael Uren, Veterans’ Foundation, and The Gosling Foundation, and internationally from Oak Foundation.
Falklands veteran and RBLI Ambassador Steve Hammond said, “RBLI’s Centenary Village is so much more than bricks and mortar as it provides veterans and their families with a home and a second chance. When you leave the Armed Forces, it can be hard to find your way, and some veterans may feel it’s easier to navigate their way through a combat zone than civvy street. RBLI has been on the ground helping veterans and their families to transform their lives for more than 100 years. The facilities at Centenary Village will enable us to help even more veterans to deal with the daily challenges they experience as they make the transition to a new and unknown life after service.”
For further information about RBLI and Centenary Village go to https://rbli.co.uk/centenaryvillage/