Veterans Support Group



On Friday 1 March, Victoria Prentis MP welcomed Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP to North Oxfordshire for the day.

During his visit – which followed on from an invitation extended by Victoria during Oral Questions last year – the Defence Secretary met the local support group for forces Veterans, reservists and their families, the Heyford and Bicester Veterans Group. The group was set up by a veteran living in the area and meet in Upper Heyford Community Centre. The monthly get togethers give veterans a chance to chat, catch up with friends, get help with form filling and seek advice and confidential support from services, charities including the NHS, Royal British Legion and SEAP Advocacy.

Founding member of Heyford and Bicester Veterans, Ian Ridley, said: “It was a great pleasure, privilege and an enormous amount of pride that the group, after two years of hard graft, commitment and dedication welcomed the Secretary of Defence Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP.

The group appreciated the opportunity to share with the Defence Secretary our success in such a short period of time and our visions for the future. It’s so important to continue to raise awareness for the need of these veterans support groups across the country. Small support hubs like ours find it so difficult to raise funds and awareness and if the Defence Secretary is mindful of this need, then hopefully things might assist other groups like ours in the future.”

After the meeting the group, the Secretary of State visited Bicester-based company, Barrus, to find out more about their work. Barrus, who employ over 190 local people, hold a number of MOD contracts, supplying outboard motors and inboard engines. The visit was a great opportunity to showcase the work of such an important local company.

Following the visits, Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson commented: “Veterans groups, such as the one I had the pleasure to visit in Heyford and Bicester, are a really important forum for ex-service personnel to get together and discuss shared experiences. The sense of belonging veterans gain from these groups is absolutely vital. So I am delighted that local services and charities in Oxfordshire are present to provide this excellent support.”

Victoria Prentis MP added: “I was absolutely delighted that the Defence Secretary managed to find time in his busy schedule to visit North Oxfordshire and meet the Heyford and Bicester Veterans group. He has always expressed an interest in the work they are doing with veterans and their families and seemed very impressed during his visit. The support group provide an invaluable service to all those who use it so I was very proud to show off all that they are doing. I am looking forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

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