News of the country’s first orthopaedic centre for veterans being built in Shropshire– thanks to a £6 million charitable grant – has been heralded as a “massive breakthrough” for Armed Forces healthcare.

 Sporting and stage stars, who have lent their support to an appeal to raise funds to build the specialist healthcare facility for veterans and service personnel at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH), in Oswestry, have reacted to the Trust’s announcement, that they have received the grant from the Headley Court Charity.

Headley Court was the leading medical rehabilitation base for members of the Armed Forces before the transfer of those services to a new facility at Stanford Hall.

And, following that move, the Trustees of the Headley Court Charity, have been looking for worthy causes in keeping with their ethos and aims to support in the form of charitable grants from their reserves.

When RJAH initially launched their fundraising appeal, back in 2018, six high-profile patrons were announced, who pledged to get behind the hospital’s plans.

One of the patrons was double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, who served in the Army for 10 years before her athletics career took off. Holmes was victorious in the 800m and 1,500m at the Athens Games of 2004.

Dame Kelly said: “It’s been a real privilege to have offered my support to this very worthy appeal, and I’m absolutely thrilled to hear of the fantastic news that the hospital has secured this amazing sum of money from the Headley Court Charity, to fund the build of the country’s first Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.

“Speaking as a proud veteran, I recognise the need for a first class medical support service for our veterans, who have given so much for their country.

“The build of this facility is an exciting new era for veterans’ healthcare provision. This will be a fantastic expansion of RJAH’s already wonderful Veterans’ Orthopaedic Service, which is delivered by a medical team, who understand veteran patients’ unique care needs.”

The other patrons include Dame Vera Lynn, the Second World War forces sweetheart, who remains a passionate supporter of the Armed Forces to this day.

Dame Kelly and Dame Lynn were also joined by Garry Herbert MBE, a rowing cox who won gold at Barcelona in 1992 when he steered the British coaxed pair to victory, and Great Britain’s captain sprinter and gold medallist, Richard Kilty.

The line-up of patrons  was completed by two distinguished military men – Brigadier Kevin Beaton OBE, one of the army’s most senior medics, and Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Ian Sawers, who is one of Shropshire’s Deputy Lieutenants.

Richard Kilty added: “The news of this £6 million grant is absolutely incredible. Having the UK’s first Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre built at RJAH is a massive breakthrough in veterans’ healthcare. I know that it’s going to make a difference to so many patients.”