Plan for Plymouth's own 'Chelsea Pensioners' care unit revealed
PLYMOUTH is poised to get its own equivalent of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, giving care and companionship to the city and region's military veterans.
Plymouth University is looking to team up with the city's medical school to provide accommodation and health services for retired service personnel.
Comparisons have been drawn with the well-established facility in central London, made famous by the Chelsea Pensioners in their distinctive scarlet coats.
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren the Royal Hospital Chelsea was founded in 1682 by King Charles II to provide soldiers with a fitting home in their retirement.
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The university says the plans for the community care development, which are still in their early stages, would build on its commitment "to those who have risked their lives for Queen and Country".
Continuing frontline demands placed on the military in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade have served to increase awareness of the armed forces and veterans' welfare.
Plymouth is home to almost 7,000 troops, many of whom have seen combat.
The contribution and sacrifice made by former personnel was recently highlighted with the 30th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict.
Speaking in a debate on Armed Forces Day, which is being hosted this year in Plymouth on Saturday, Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Oliver Colvile said: "Over the past month or so, I have been in discussions with the Minister. Plymouth University is looking at a way to create something similar to the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, and provide accommodation and a home for some of our veterans.
"The idea is to ensure that students at the medical school can buddy up with some of those veterans who have to live without accommodation, and it is a very good thing to do."
A university spokesman said: "We can confirm that Plymouth University is in the early planning stages of creating a community care facility for the city and region's veterans.
"The proposed partnership with our new medical school will seek to provide additional accommodation, healthcare and companionship to retired servicemen.
"We are already proud to support the city and region's distinguished military history through our education provision at Britannia Royal Naval College. This proposed development will see us use our expertise to further build on our commitment to those who have risked their lives for Queen and Country."
Plymouth is already home to Hasler Company, based at Devonport Naval Base.
This helps aid the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of seriously-injured and ill Royal Marines and Navy personnel by giving them tailored support.
Paying tribute at Westminster to members of the Armed Forces, Defence Minister Andrew Robathan said: "They deserve our support and recognition because of their outstanding contribution to this country.
"They make personal sacrifices to defend the United Kingdom and its interests, and they contribute to international peace and security."
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