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91 year old granddad cycles 900 miles in 90 days

HARRY Kessler, who is from Southport, completed the incredible challenge to fundraise for the charity Guide Dogs, who has celebrated its 90th Anniversary this year. The Granddad of 6 said:- "Cycling 900 miles in 90 days for Guide Dogs was a pleasure, partly because I enjoy the exercise but mainly because it was so good to see the generosity of family, friends and complete strangers who have so far donated over ₤6,500 to this wonderful charity."

Harry has always been sympathetic for people with sight loss, has been supporting Guide Dogs by sponsoring a puppy for many years. He has also volunteered for Southport's Talking Newspaper.

The 900 miles started on 13 September and included bike rides around Hesketh Bank, Formby, Halsall and of course, Southport. Harry said:- "I accumulated miles so when the weather was really bad, I didn't need to go out on my bike."

Tracey Digby, Community Fundraising Relationship Manager for Guide Dogs, said:- "What Harry has achieved has blown my mind! He is such an inspiration and he's done so well. We can't thank him enough!"

To find out more about how you can support Guide Dogs, visit:- GuideDogs.Org.UK.

Harrys fundraising page: Harry Kessler is fundraising for Guide Dogs on:- JustGiving.Com.

A brand new Veterans Hub has opened in Southport

THE new Centre, located on Wesley Street, in Southport Town Centre, is operated by the Southport branch of the Royal British Legion and aims to be a safe space where veterans can go and meet up, enjoy a coffee with friends, and seek advice or support. The Royal British Legion will be on hand to help veterans with issues including welfare support, while also being able to signpost the best places for issues such as mental health. This will be the 1st centre in the country to use the smart new Royal British Legion logo, as the organisation celebrates its 100th Anniversary.

The RBL previously had an office on Shakespeare Street, in Southport, but organisers felt that a more central location would make the facilities much more accessible for veterans to be able to use. It is a positive step for an organisation which has seen the closures of the Byng House respite home for veterans on the Promenade and the Royal British Legion Club on West Street in recent years.

Southport Royal British Legion Chair Major Nick McEntee is keen to make the organisation more accessible to more veterans, both through the new Southport Veterans Hub, and also through some exciting new events. Major McEntee has spent over 40 years in the British Army, serving all over the world in places including:- Northern Ireland, the US, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Germany, Canada and the Baltic states. He is currently serving in the 6th UK Division.

Major McEntee told us that:- "We have got some really exciting things going on through the Royal British Legion. We are promoting the new centre as the 'Southport Veterans Hub.' We want the Hub to be the 1st port of call for the local veterans community whenever they need help and support. We want it to be available for veterans of a working age; young veterans coming out of the services, perhaps in their 20s or 30s, as well as older veterans as well. That is why the Hub will look modern, and why it will feel inviting for people. We want to have a welfare Officer available, and we will get as many of our committee through 1st Aid courses so we can signpost people to enjoy the best medical and mental health support should they need it. All of the committee members will have DBS checks and mental health training."

The new Hub will be a friendly meeting place for people to call in and meet up. There will also be lots of help available.

Major McEntee said:- "When I left Afghanistan, I needed support, but it was hard to get it. 1 veteran I spoke to the other day for example had booked a holiday but then due to his PTSD, he wanted to cancel it, but didn't know what his rights were. That is the type of issue we can help with. We will have computers available for people to use. We are looking at this as yet another positive step for Southport. The 1st thing that I did when I moved to Southport was to look for the Royal British Legion. I was surprised that there was no longer a Royal British Legion club here, because it had closed down. Byng House has sadly closed down too. I'm sure that positive things are going to come from opening the new Southport Veterans Hub. We want it to be a real 1 stop shop for people. It's extremely important that veterans and their families know that there is somewhere they can go, that is in the Town Centre and easy to get to. We want it to really stand out. The shopkeepers in Wesley Street have been fantastic, they are really behind the idea of the Southport Veterans Hub opening here. Following a soft launch that was held on Thursday, 16 December 2021, where people could come along and learn more about our plans for the future, we will be followed by an official launch on 22 January 2022. The new Hub will be officially opened by Southport MP Damien Moore, who is a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, and by Mayor of Sefton Cllr Clare Carragher, whose father was in the military. Damien Moore was very excited about our plans when we told him about them. He thinks it is a really exciting project for Southport Town Centre."

Southport MP Damien Moore said:- "I think this is a fantastic idea. The new Southport Veterans Hub will be in the Town Centre and will be more accessible to those who need support the most, local veterans and their families. I'm incredibly proud of the work that the Royal British Legion does. The Royal British Legion has been around for a long time, it is good to see them occupying a more central location now. It is a proper hub. I look forward to the support that our veterans will be able to enjoy here. For more details please contact Southport Royal British legion on:- 01704651947."


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