Welfare hub for marines takes shape at Lympstone

Work has begun on a £2.4m welfare hub for Royal Marines and their families to help them overcome the physical and mental strains of military life and combat.

Five years in the planning, when it opens at the beginning of next year, the support hub at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone is intended to help around 1,500 marines and their families every year.

On tap in the hub will be a wide range of welfare support and workshops to help marines switch back to civvy street when their careers end, while the facilities and rooms will be open for use by cadet groups, families and for social activities.

Although at present the Corps is not involved in front-line combat, for most of the past two decades it has been heavily engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan – and not just the fighting units, but logisticians, engineers, musicians (in their secondary, medical role).

Anyone struggling mentally may find it hard to step inside the boundary, but this will be somewhere people can come and start to feel more at ease.

Royal Marines veteran Mark Ormrod

Even in peace, like now, marines are heavily in demand, protecting the nuclear deterrent, supporting D-Day commemorations or deployed with the amphibious task group on the Baltic Protector deployment.

With demands for treatment to combat mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and pressures on Forces families increasing, the RM community decided a hub was needed, building on similar welfare services provided for other parts of the military.

Although located in the commandos’ spiritual home, the facility will be open for use by the entire Corps – and families – with an estimated 50,000 serving personnel expected to take advantage of its services and facilities over the centre’s 30-year lifespan.                                                                                                   

The centre – built on the site of a former sports pitch just outside the main base – is being funded entirely by the Royal Marines Association-The Royal Marines Charity which has so far raised £1.9m towards its target.

Helping to break ground and get construction under way, the charity chief executive Jonathan Ball said the new centre would act as a “one-stop shop that epitomises what the charity is about: comradeship, compassion, collaboration and commemoration. We haven’t had anywhere we can focus on all these things until now.

“The Commando Training Centre is at the heart of the Royal Marines Corps; the journey of every Royal Marine starts at Lympstone and they will all return here throughout their careers.”

Royal Marines veteran Mark Ormrod, from Plymouth, lost both legs and his right arm to an IED in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 2007.

Since then he has become an inspirational figure, motivational speaker, Invictus Games athlete and, most importantly, husband and father.

“The fact that the hub is located outside of camp is hugely significant,” he said. “Anyone struggling mentally may find it hard to step inside the boundary, but this will be somewhere people can come and start to feel more at ease.

“Families can come under a lot of strain, particularly during deployments and months-long exercises, so having a place they can go is a big deal. We’re one big family and the hub is integral to that.”

 

Donations to the hub project can be made at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/theroyalmarinescharity/appeal