A plan to transform a piece of military land into a community recreation facility was unveiled as Surrey County Council signed a pledge to support the armed forces.
The idea was put forward as the county council’s chairman Lavinia Sealy and Brigadier Simon Wolsey, Commanding Officer for 2 Brigade (South East), signed the Surrey Community Covenant (13 March) at a ceremony attended by a host of other dignitaries*.
If the idea goes ahead, the facility would include an all-weather football pitch, a mountain bike trail and a barbecue area for local residents and soldiers’ families on an estate close to the Army’s Pirbright training centre.
The covenant is a statement of mutual support between the county’s civilian and armed forces communities, which pledges practical help to forces personnel and their families.
It is part of a national scheme launched by the Ministry of Defence last year, which makes £30 million available to projects that improve links between the military and civilians**. More information is available on the Surrey Community Covenant website.
Britain’s military rehabilitation centre is at Headley Court, near Dorking, and other bases include the Royal Army Medical Corps regimental headquarters in Camberley and the Cadet Training Centre at Frimley Park.
It is estimated that there are around 95,000 veterans in Surrey while 2 Brigade (South East), which covers the county, currently has 5,500 troops.
Mrs Sealy said: “We all know how much we owe our armed forces for the defence of our freedoms and democracy and we must do all we can to give them the services that they and their families need and deserve in civilian life.
“Surrey is home to many military bases and signing this declaration strengthens the bond between the county’s residents and the armed forces. It also emphasises our support for the fantastic work those in the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy do.”
On behalf of all the armed forces, Brigadier Wolsey said: “The signing of this covenant is an important milestone in the relationship between the Army and the civilian community, and we are hoping it will enhance and enshrine that relationship in a tangible form. We already work well together and now we can work better.”
Mrs Sealy updates a blog about her activities as the county council’s chairman.
* Other signatories included the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Dame Sarah Goad DCVO JP, Richard Guillaume from the Surrey Chambers of Commerce, NHS Surrey vice-chairman Rodney Gritten, Carol Dunnett, of Surrey Voluntary Action, and Liz Cutter, Chairman of Surrey County Association of Parish and Town Councils. District and borough council representatives also attended the ceremony.
** Following the signing ceremony, a board made up of civilian and military members will consider issues affecting the armed forces community and help bid for cash for projects.