Newcastle-under-Lyme veterans' building saved as £85k pledged

Geoff Harriman
Geoff Harriman has been left delighted after the building was saved

A military veterans' charity that was facing losing its home has a secure future after a major fundraising drive.

Volunteers in Newcastle-under-Lyme had been told they would have to move out unless they raised £85,000 to buy it.

But now the centre used by Tri Services and Veterans Support Centre has been saved from being sold by the council.

The charity, which has been running for eight years, attracted the support of billionaire and local mobile phone entrepreneur John Caudwell.

It brings 18 months of uncertainty for the charity to an end, Staffordshire County Council said.

John Caudwell
John Caudwell had previously supported the fundraising effort

Mr Caudwell said in January he would match public donations to help the charity buy the Hassell Street building.

"The veterans are obviously people who have dedicated their life to protecting ours and for them to come out of the forces and then be in a devastating situation for whatever reason is not acceptable," Mr Caudwell said at the time.

Leroy Francis
Leroy Francis, who served in the RAF for 26 years and has multiple sclerosis, said the service was vital

Leroy Francis, who served in the RAF for 26 years and lives with multiple sclerosis, previously told the BBC the service helped him get out of his home.

"It has given that sense of belonging and that sense of independence," he explained.

Mark Deaville, county council cabinet member for commercial, said the charity would take formal ownership this week.

'Monumental step forward'

"Owning the building instead of leasing it will allow them to invest in the centre and give them more certainty about their future," he said.

Geoff Harriman, the charity's chairman, said it was a "monumental step forward" for the charity.

"This will give us the security we need to continue the great work in providing help and support to veterans and their families," he added.

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