Our ‘Forest Forces’ programme is designed to support local Veterans to lead a more healthy and connected life. We aim to tackle social isolation by providing a variety of regular activities and events that brings veterans together from different backgrounds and armed forces constituents. From coffee mornings, comedy nights and day trips, we work with our veterans to come up with different initiatives that everyone will enjoy.
Bart Lockhurst, Ex-Chief Technician in the RAF, has been a part of our Forest Forces since the beginning so we caught up with him to get his thoughts on the programme so far…
Why did you first come to Forest Forces?
“I was told about a coffee morning down at The City Ground for veterans and it seemed like a nice idea, so I went down to see what it was like. I wanted to see if I could see anyone I recognised from back in the day and to try and make new friends because we’re all of the same ilk and it’s easy to mix with those who you’ve shared that lifestyle with.”
Did you see anyone you knew from your time in the armed forces?
“I haven’t actually seen anyone from my days in the RAF but there’s been lots of veterans on the programme that have and it’s amazing to see them all reconnect and go over old ground again.”
What sort of things have you enjoyed the most?
“Nottingham Forest Community Trust have been so good to us; they’ve organised so many different events for us, we’ve had coffee mornings, quiz nights, comedy nights, day trips including one to visit Derby County’s ground were we met some of their veterans, there’s been such a fun variety. We actually got to take a penalty at The Trent End, kitted out with our own kit and balls with a referee, linesman and goalkeeper, how about that! It was an enormous treat and such an incredible and exciting thing to do that not many people will get to say they have done in their lifetime. That’s definitely a lasting memory.”
How has it been during Lockdown for you, not being able to do our usual events/activities?
“It has been difficult with lockdown for me and for a lot of us, but the community staff have been in touch regularly with me, with phone calls and messages asking us how we were and if we needed anything and coming up with things to keep us occupied. One day I got a call saying they would like to bring me a present, so I said yes, and they came and gave me my very own Forest shirt with my name on the back! They then took a photo of me which was part of another surprise because the next time I saw that photo it was in the stadium as a cardboard cut-out with my other Forest Forces mates, we all got a great bit of pleasure from that, what a nice thing to do out of the blue.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“I’d just love to see even more people getting involved in what the Community Trust are doing because it`s such a good programme. You get to do things you could never even imagine getting to do and I’ve made such good friends from it and get a great deal of fun and pleasure from the activities and sessions we do.”
If you would like to get involved in our Forest Forces programme or our Tackling Loneliness activities contact email@example.com or call us on 01159 824318.