Drinks Reception – Wendesday 12th March 2014

Welcome Speech by Chris Dreyfus, Chairman of Trustees:

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Naval and Military Club, The In and Out. I am Chris Dreyfus and I have the privilege of being the Chairman of Soldier On!.

It was one of those afternoons which unknowingly changed the face of veteran support. Nicholas and I shared a flat in South London and I came home from work one day to find Nicholas rolling around on the floor surrounded by scraps of paper. Those scraps contained the foundations of Soldier On!. Five years later, we have worked one to one with almost 200 medically discharged service leavers and veterans and through our various workshops we have supported many more.

With on average 2000 armed forces personnel being medically discharged each year, 200 may not seem a lot. But with each of these being given individual attention and a service tailored to their needs the impact of Soldier On’s very small team is quite remarkable.

It is the team work and dedication of Nicholas and David Royston-Lee which has been keeping our service delivery going. Between the two of them they see all of our service users and it is them who drive what Soldier On! is. David is a highly regarded and sought after Occupational Psychologist. He has dedicated so much of his personal time to Soldier On! and has guided and shaped the service we offer. David, thank you for your immense support; Soldier On! and the veteran community owe you huge thanks.

Evolution is key to survival and since we started five years ago, our service has matured and refined. Soldier On! has never been about hand outs, holidays or hero worship. It has always been about something much more fundamental: The ability to support oneself and ones family with dignity. Earning a living, being self-sufficient and developing as a person and as a professional. Having a career.

Today we are very excited to announce the next stage in our journey: our residential programme.

It is one thing guiding people through our career management pathway; it is much more powerful to teach them how to do it for themselves. This year we aim to deliver our career management pathway, as a partly-residential course which will allow us to increase the number of service leavers and veterans we can support.

Our target this year is to support 120 medically discharged service leavers and veterans. None of this will be possible without the right funding. We are immensely grateful to Philip Morris International for their huge financial support over the last year. It is a relationship which has been more than just about money with PMI providing advice, guidance and contacts and we look forward to that relationship continuing.

Our ambitious plan for 2014 won’t be achieved unless we have the budget to support it. So once the wine is drunk and the canapés devoured, I would ask that you think about how you might be able to help Soldier On! achieve its funding goal for this year, either personally, through contacts or through business.

We are very grateful to Chris Hogan and the team at The In and Out for their ongoing support of Soldier On! and hosting us this evening.

Thank you again for coming and for showing your support to Soldier On!.

It now gives me great pleasure to introduce Chris Weston, veteran and Managing Director of British Gas.”