Littlehampton Veterans Breakfast Club celebrates first birthday

Littlehampton Armed Forces Veterans Breakfast Club celebrated its first anniversary with a gathering at least seven times the size of the launch meeting.

Having started on February 10, 2018, with six veterans, the club now has more than 40 members.

They were joined by the organising committee and well-wishers from the Forgotten Veterans UK charity, based in Portsmouth, for a celebratory breakfast at Café 72 in High Street, Littlehampton, on Saturday.

Bill Butcher, from Forgotten Veterans, said: “The veterans, mainly elderly and some disabled, meet up at the Café 72 bistro and bar for a hearty meal, a cuppa or two and the opportunity to chat with other veterans from the area.

Celebrating the first birthday, vice-chairman Ian Buckland, left, and chairman Ian Neville with the cake, and Cafe 72 owner Gary Hughesdon with his wife Ruth, behind

“As well as giving them an opportunity to have a good hot meal, the breakfast club gives many of them a reason to get out and about, which has been shown to be of great benefit to those that may be suffering from depression or mental health issues.”

Chairman Ian Neville, a former Royal Engineer, started the breakfast club with assistance from former Littlehampton mayor Ian Buckland, who served in the Queen’s Regiment, and café owner Gary Hughesdon.

The aim was to provide a comfortable and central location for the veterans to meet up.

The anniversary gathering included an additional birthday celebration for ‘Pitbull’, a former Royal Marine. Ruth Hughesdon, Gary’s wife, presented him with a cake to celebrate his 76th birthday.

Veterans enjoying a celebratory breakfast at Cafe 72 in Littlehampton

One of the ways ‘Pitbull’ keeps fit is by running 10km every morning, complete with a fully-loaded Bergen on his back – once a Royal Marine, always a Royal Marine, he says.

The club meets every Saturday and Wednesday, with a regular attendance of more than 30 veterans each day.