'If I hadn't come here, I wouldn't be here myself': Falklands vet on the charity that saved his life

  • ITV News Anglia's Emily Knight speaks to the veterans who say they have been given a 'lifeline'

Falklands War veteran Paul 'Frostie' Frost, is a regular at The Bridge For Heroes drop-in centre - a charity that he credits for having saved his life.

Mr Frost, 72, came across the Bridge in King's Lynn through a friend. "The door was open and he literally threw me through the door," he recollects.

"I love it here," he says of the place he comes up to four times a week and where he now also volunteers.

"That was four years ago and I’ve been here ever since and if I hadn’t have come here then I wouldn’t be here myself," he says.

Paul "Frostie" Frost served in the Falklands in 1982 Credit: Paul Frost

Mr Frost broke his back while in the forces and lost his partner of 31 years more than a decade ago.

"I’ve been on my own ever since," he said.

"But I’m not on my own anymore because I’m with my brothers."

Mr Frost has formed friendships with two other veterans, all of whom have been united in the grief of losing their wives, and regularly meet up for conversation.

Peter Martin (L) Alan Moss and Paul "Frostie" Frost (R) Credit: ITV News Anglia

Alan Moss, 79, a veteran of the Royal Engineers, lost his wife a year ago and visits the Bridge up to four times a week.

”I was probably at my lowest point this time last year," he admitted.

Now he gets comfort from knowing there will be a welcoming smile from the staff and a cup of tea with his friends.

Peter Martin is another regular at the charity, who served 22 years in the Army.

"You’ve only got to open that door and you know you’re with friends. It means a lot to me because I am on my own completely," he added.

The Bridge For Heroes gets most of its core funding from the Army Benevolent Fund which turns 80 years old this year.

Decades on, the core aim of the national charity for the British Army remains the same - to give independence, dignity and stop hardship.

Kerry Allison, a former Army nurse, now works for the Bridge.

”So many of our beneficiaries have said things like it’s a lifeline," she said.

"We have caught people at the lowest time of their lives, we’ve been able to bring them in, offer them a warm meal. For us it’s very much about engaging with people and the practical support we can offer.”

Anne Johnson, 80, founding volunteer member at The Bridge For Heroes Credit: ITV News Anglia

Anne Johnson, 80, loves to crochet and knit - making blankets and key rings to sell for The Bridge For Heroes.

"I try to pay back by making the key rings and the blankets and hopefully passing my skills on to other people as well.”

Mrs Johnson and her late husband Roy were among the founding volunteer members of The Bridge For Heroes in 2011.

Now more recently, she has needed support herself after losing her husband - who was a veteran himself - to Alzheimer's and vascular dementia.

Anne and Roy Johnson on their wedding day. Credit: Anne Johnson

"Things were difficult at times, there was always someone to turn to talk to. It was lovely to see Roy relaxed and happy because it became his happy place," she added.

"I honestly don’t know how I would have coped.

"When we see the guys that we have helped, I wonder what would have happened to them if we weren’t there to help them and certainly I would be lost without the Bridge.”

Olympic rower James Cracknell will be leading the Army Benevolent Fund team at the Maldon Mud race. Credit: PA

The Army Benevolent Fund is one of the charities being supported by the Maldon Mud Race, Essex on 2 June.

Organisers are inviting teams of serving military personnel to sign up for the race.

Olympic rower James Cracknell will be leading the Army Benevolent Fund team.

"I'm not sure it's like anything I've done before," he said.

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