Military support group sets up national HQ in Pendle

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THE military support group Veteran Association UK has set up its national headquarters in Pendle after being established by a local ex-soldier.

It aims to raise issues in support of people who have served their country, particularly helping homeless former Servicemen and women find places to live.

And they are looking for volunteers from Pendle to help run their headquarters on the Kelbrook/Sough boundary at Sough Bridge Mill, the base for the group in Lancashire, as well as across the country as a whole.

Former soldier and Colne pub landlord Mr Tony Hayes (58) - known by his former military colleagues as “Hannable” - lives in Regent Street, Nelson, and is chief executive officer of the association.

Originally from Liverpool, he joined the Royal Horse Artillery in 1972 and served in Germany. From 1976 to 1980 he was in the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve. He was landlord of the Jolly Hatters, Colne, in 2006 before having to quit because of illness.

He said: “There was very little help in finding accommodation when I left the regiment. Over the years, it has got worse.”

Helping people find homes is the association’s key issue. They work with Haig Homes and Mr Hayes said: “They do help military people to acquire properties.”

So it is a key issue, but the association does help people in other matters. That includes concerns over people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and “putting in a bit of a fight for the Gurkhas”.

Mr Hayes said: “We need people to man the phones, give people lifts and give them advice at Sough Bridge Mill.”

If you are interested in being a volunteer for VAUK or have had military service and need help, call 601564 or, from next week, on 787479, or alternatively visit

Mr Hayes said: “People having to live on the streets are one of our key issues. We would like to hear from possible volunteers - and any veterans with problems, let us know.

“The intention is to keep the office here open nine to five, five days a week and we need volunteers to do that.”

The group was launched in April and has more than 4,000 members nationally, including Surgeon Rear Admiral Ralph Curr, who was head of medical treatment at sea in Gulf War 2. There are branches from the North-East to the South of England.