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Veterans' hospital meeting gets heated

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: August 03, 2012

Outside Clydach Memorial Hospital are (from left) Rob Grant from the British Leigion with Forces Aid Foundation representatives Major Mike Hooley John Morris Bill John Arfon Williams and Kevin Richards

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A WAR of words has broken out in a heated meeting over plans to turn a former Swansea Valley hospital into a hub for veterans and their families.

Members of the Forces Aid Foundation — who are heading up future plans for Clydach War Memorial Hospital — were involved in a fiery exchange with community leaders who claimed they were not told about yesterday's public meeting.

Kevin Richards, of the foundation, who is behind the scheme to set up the centre, was also placed under fire for a previous venture called the Golden Grove Appeal and was asked where the fundraising cash went when it closed.

But he said the cash was invested in treating former service personnel suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through the organisation Healing The Wounds.

The Clydach scheme also includes a museum, a community restaurant and educational centre as part of the project.

Councillor Gillian Wakeman, of Clydach Community Council, told the public meeting: "We have invited you to a public meeting and you have ignored our requests for further meetings.

"We think it's underhand you ignored us totally and you did not say this meeting was going on — it seems to me that something dodgy is going on." Despite the angry exchanges during the course of the meeting, Falklands veteran and former Welsh Guard David Graham said everyone was behind the principle of having such a veteran support centre in Wales.

There are a total of 225,000 veterans living in Wales.

Fundraiser, Mr Graham said he had read in the press that members of the Forces Aid Foundation had "accused the council of copying their ideas" and said there was "baggage and some history" that needed to be sorted out.

He said he had the £250,000 needed to cover the cost of buying the hospital but said he had "no confidence" in what was going on in the meeting.

But Mr Richards said the foundation wanted to work with community on the project.

Both Armed Forces champion for the Vale of Glamorgan Janice Charles, and Major Mike Hooley walked out of the meeting in disgust at the comments made overall.

Mrs Charles said: "This could be a jewel in the crown for Clydach, for Wales and the first of its type in the UK."

She pledged to go ahead with the scheme.


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  • trunkles3  |  August 03 2012, 9:15PM

    This document - http://tinyurl.com/7vrdfal Has been sent to local councils in the Clydach area, as well as the groups listed in the document. There has also been a previous public meeting held in Clydach, which was *advertised* on Facebook - http://tinyurl.com/d4x88e2 I reckon this entitles Clydach CC to have their views on the hospital known.

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  • MattSamms  |  August 03 2012, 6:24PM

    Repeat ... what has any of this got to do with Clydach Community Council?

  • asterix905  |  August 03 2012, 12:09PM

    Lots of representatives from ex military charities where present at this presentation, and none would support this group to lead this project forward. as is stated there is baggage £120,000 worth of it. this project will move forward with the right organisations leading it.

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  • MattSamms  |  August 03 2012, 8:48AM

    Last I heard Clydach Hospital belonged to the local health board. They are thinking of selling it on to a charity that helps rehabilitate former service men and women. This is an excellent idea in my opinion and very fitting given the origins of the building. So what on earth does any of this have to do with the Clydach Community Council? And who the hell are they to accuse others of being dodgy when they have a very dubious record of financial accountability themselves.

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