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D-Day and Veteran Aware celebrations at Cornish hospital

Sergeant James Bashford; Sue Greenwood, Matron of Camborne Redruth Community Hospital; Debbie Richards, Chief Executive of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; and Iain Henderson from The Veterans Charity standing below the new Veteran Aware plaque.

Camborne Redruth Community Hospital has helped to send a unique poppy wreath on a special journey from Cornwall to France, to mark the anniversary of the D-Day landings.

On 6 June 2024, it will be 80 years since more than 150,000 British, Canadian and American troops landed in a combined assault on Nazi-occupied France.

The commemorative wreath began its journey on Armed Forces Day in Falmouth last year. Camborne Redruth is one of the many sites it has travelled to across the Duchy. It will finish in Normandy on Thursday, where it will be laid alongside seven other similar wreaths from across the UK, NATO and Commonwealth countries.

Staff from Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, serving personnel and veterans outside Camborne Redruth Community Hospital with a D-Day poppy wreath

The wreath arrived in the hands of Iain Henderson, Trustee of The Veterans Charity. He explains why it means so much to so many people:

"Remembrance is any and every day for veterans. There are so many anniversaries that we remember, both locally and nationally. It helps many of us with a sense of purpose and duty still.

"For example, my own uncle landed on D-Day. This wreath will take a trip down the canal to Pegasus Bridge, which is exactly what he did shortly after D-Day. As they passed the bridge, they came under heavy machine gun fire and had to return to the safety of Allied lines. Thankfully, my uncle survived. However, we should remember the many amazing stories and individuals of D-Day and other campaigns.

"Cornwall is packed with its own, often hidden history of the build up to D-D-Day. Some are obvious but perhaps overlooked. You can still see the ramps in Falmouth and Trebah Gardens where the landing craft were loaded, whereas there are very few signs of the huge D-Day storage areas around Shortlanesend.

"We need to keep remembrance alive before the history is lost. This wreath visiting groups and venues hopefully plays its part in this endeavour".

The wreath was also part of celebrations to mark Camborne Redruth becoming the second hospital within the Trust to achieve Veteran Aware status.

Debbie Richards, Chief Executive and Sue Greenwood, Matron unveiled the special plaque just inside the main entrance. Sue said:

"We are immensely proud of our ongoing work to ensure we recognise veterans, their families and our staff who have served.

"The D-Day celebrations ensure we remember what our Armed Services have done in the past. This award demonstrates that we wish to do more to support future generations of our serving personnel and veterans, of which many are our own staff.

"Before the plaque was unveiled, I had the privilege to have a coffee and catch up with the many veterans and serving Army personnel to reminisce about past experiences. This made the event mean something very special for hospital".

Debbie Richards, Chief Executive of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Sue Greenwood, Matron of Camborne Redruth Community Hospital standing below the Veteran Aware plaque

What does Veteran Aware status mean?

The Veteran Aware accreditation means the site has demonstrated that it can offer a range of care services for the local Armed Forces community.

The status comes from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance, which is a group of NHS providers. It includes acute, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts. The Alliance encourages providers to identify those patients with an Armed Forces background.

By doing this, the Trust can offer access to specific veterans' health services. These include mental health, hearing loss, limb amputation and wheelchairs.

Debbie Richards says the hospital and Trust have worked hard to achieve this, adding that it states our ambition to do even more to best support veterans and their families.

"This is an acknowledgement of all of our Armed Forces, their service and some of the unique challenges faced by all those who have served and their families.

"It is a demonstrable commitment to patients, staff and families that we truly care about veterans and that we value their service".

Camborne Redruth joins Helston Community Hospital as the first within the Trust to receive the status. The plaques at both sites are also among the first to include the King's crown.

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