A former soldier who was helped back into work after a heart transplant has welcomed a commitment by Somerset Freemasons to help dozens more wounded, injured and sick veterans across the South West.
Tony Daniels, 57, who served in the Gloucestershire Regiment for five years, sought help from The Poppy Factory following the life-saving surgery in 2016. After being unemployed for 12 years he is now enjoying a new career at regional property management firm Spectrum Property Care.
Now a generous grant from Somerset Freemasons will ensure more wounded, injured and sick veterans get the support they need. The Poppy Factory has received £120,000 over two years to ensure ex-Forces men and women living with mental and physical health conditions in South West England are supported into meaningful and sustainable careers.
Tony, who was born in Frome, lives in Bristol and works across Somerset, spoke about the support he has received when he met representatives from the charity and Somerset Freemasons at his firm’s depot in Commerce Park, Frome, on Wednesday, August 15th.
Tony said: “I knew I wanted to work again after my heart transplant and four days after my operation I was surfing social media when The Poppy Factory came up, so I made contact.
“My employability consultant, Farrah, helped me with my confidence, skills, job searching and most importantly my CV, and now I’m back at work. I may have lost 12 years of my life, but now I’m mended and taking each day at a time, and I feel on top of the world.
“I want to thank Somerset Freemasons for this donation, which will help lots more veterans like me get vital support from The Poppy Factory.”
The Somerset Freemasons grant will mean at least 40 wounded, injured or sick veterans living in Somerset and the wider South West are supported back into work over the next two years by The Poppy Factory’s regional specialist employability consultants, alongside others who are already actively searching for new careers.
Since 2010, the charity has supported almost 1,000 veterans into work across the UK. Employability consultants work closely with veterans to support them into a role that suits their strengths and ambitions.
The charity also employs around 30 veterans and dependents with disabilities in its factory, making the Remembrance products for The Royal British Legion and the Royal Family, since 1922.
The grant from Somerset Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
The Poppy Factory’s Chief Executive Deirdre Mills said: “We are delighted to receive this much needed funding from Somerset Freemasons. This will enable our dedicated staff at The Poppy Factory to help restore the financial independence of even more veterans with disabilities through sustainable and rewarding employment.”
David Maddern from Somerset Freemasons said: “We’re very pleased to be able to help The Poppy Factory who do outstanding work helping veterans with disabilities get back in to work. Our service people have given a tremendous amount for us and it’s only right that we come together to give them something back in return.”