Inverness celebrates with Tea & Toast

17th June 2015 Fraser Bedwell

Guests were invited to a pop-up field kitchen at the Strothers Lane centre to sample a taste of Poppyscotland’s summer fundraiser, Tea & Toast, served by soldiers from 7 SCOTS (51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland). Tea & Toast comes from a military tradition of having a cup of tea and slice of toast at break times and even when away on operations, providing a comforting reminder of home.

Poppyscotland Inverness, which opened in June 2013, provides advice, information and support to serving and ex-Service people, and their families living in the north of Scotland. Since opening, the centre has received over 1,000 enquiries and, as well as offering a drop-in service, the team has worked on a one-to-one basis to support 165 people who have presented with issues including benefits, debt, employment, finances, health, housing and social isolation.  The age range of those accessing the centre is between 16 and 80 but the majority of people are aged between 35 and 59. Partnerships have been developed locally and include collaboration with Apex Scotland, Armed Services Advice Project, Highland Community Covenant Partnership, Legion Scotland, Momentum Skills, SSAFA and Veterans Welfare Service.

Attending the event was veteran Gordon Gourdie, 44, from Nairn, who served in the Royal Scots. Gordon was struggling with mental health problems as a result of events he witnessed during his time in the first Gulf War as well as family bereavements. He took time off work but a delay in sick pay exacerbated financial problems with rent and council tax arrears. Support from Poppyscotland Inverness has helped him immensely; he has developed a financial plan and has secured a war disablement pension. Today, Gordon runs a cycling club in his spare time and has raised over £700 for Poppyscotland.

Speaking at the event, Gordon said: “I owe Poppyscotland my life. The team did the best they could for me and if I had not gone to see them I would not be here now. Poppyscotland helped me get my life back on track and, through cycling, I am doing what I can to give something back.”

Poppyscotland relies on public donations to deliver its services all year round. The annual Scottish Poppy Appeal and events like Tea & Toast enable the charity to continue to be there for members of the Armed Forces community when they need it most. Thanks to the generosity of the local community, the 2014 Appeal in Inverness raised £48,921. The final forecast total for the whole of Scotland is £2.88 million.

Poppyscotland’s Welfare Services Manager for the North of Scotland Nina Semple said: “Today’s event is an opportunity for Poppyscotland to celebrate and thank beneficiaries, supporters and partners. Over the past two years we have worked hard to establish the centre in the community and we have been warmly welcomed by local organisations and individuals. Poppyscotland exists to provide support for those in the Armed Forces community at any point in their lives and we are delighted to be joined by some of the people whose lives have been changed for the better over the past two years.

“We decided to host a Tea & Toast to mark the occasion because we wanted to highlight Poppyscotland’s new fundraising event.  It’s a very simple way for groups, friends and families to get together and support the charity over the summer. Also, if it wasn’t for the generosity of the public, we wouldn’t be able to deliver our services, so it is an entirely fitting way to mark the centre’s second birthday.”

To find out more about hosting a Tea & Toast contact Marianne Craig on 0131 550 1578 or email m.craig@poppyscotland.org.uk