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Ex-army site managers install Tommy figures ahead of VE Day

More than a dozen commemorative Tommy figures have been installed in Barratt David Wilson Homes show home gardens across Wiltshire this week ahead of VE Day on Saturday 8th May. 

The leading housebuilder is the first corporate patron of the new Tommy Club, a fundraising initiative launched by the Royal British Legion Industries charity (RBLI) to raise money to support armed forces veterans. 

Assistant site manager Trevor Hopkins, who is managing the construction at Canalside, Wichelstowe on the edge of Swindon served for 23 years with the Royal Tank Regiment before joining Barratt Developments through the company's Armed Forces Transition Programme. Trevor served in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, Kosovo and Afghanistan and says it's a great honour to install the figure in their show home garden and in dozens of others across Wiltshire and the South West.

Barratt Homes has donated £100,000 to the Tommy Club and has purchased 300 Tommy figures to show their support for the charity. The Tommy Club is a membership organisation with all money raised going to help veterans of all ages to gain independence and overcome challenges including mental and physical disability.

Trevor Hopkins, assistant site manager at Canalside, the first phase of new Wichelstowe development being built by Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes in partnership with Swindon Borough Council, says

"It's a real honour to be able to put the Tommy figure in pride of place in our show home garden at Canalside, Wichelstowe and to see them going into our developments across Wiltshire and the South West. I've been very fortunate to start a new career with Barratt Developments after a long and varied career in the army, but it's not always an easy transition for everyone. The RBLI does fantastic work improving the lives of people who have given so much and we're proud to be able to support their work."

The term Tommy was coined during WWI when German soldiers would call out to ‘Tommy' across No Man's Land if they wanted to speak to a British soldier.  The Tommy figure, with head bowed, has become a universal symbol of gratitude and commemoration to all those who have served in the armed forces. 

Each garden Tommy is put together by veterans working for the RBLI's unique social enterprise; Britain's Bravest Manufacturing Company, which creates more jobs for ex-armed forces personnel and raises crucial funds for the charity. The RBLI has been providing jobs, homes, and mental health support for ex services personnel throughout the worst of the current pandemic. 

Andrea Pilgrim, sales director at Barratt Homes Bristol said:

"We're incredibly proud to be the first corporate sponsor of the Tommy Club.  We have been really moved and impressed by the amazing work the RBLI does providing rehabilitation centres, adapted apartments, nursing care, employment opportunities and emergency accommodation for homeless veterans.  This is a cause we know is important to lots of our staff, many of whom have proud military careers themselves, and to our home buyers. We hope that by installing these iconic figures in our show home gardens we can inspire more people to join Tommy Club. "

Louise Ware, sales director at David Wilson Homes South West added:

"The work the RBLI does is invaluable in helping these brave ex-service men and women lead normal lives.  When we heard about this new fundraising initiative by the RBLI we immediately wanted to be a part of the Tommy Club.  These impressive Tommy figures will not only act as a reminder of the debt of gratitude we owe these veterans but also highlight the great work the charity does."