Annette Nicholls – Rhondda Fach Veterans #VolunteersWeek

Annette created Rhondda Fach Veterans, a veterans group for the patients of Ferndale Medical Centre as a safe and friendly space to meet and share experiences. She started by contacting patients known to the surgery as veterans and worked with Katy, an Interlink Wellbeing Coordinator, at the surgery to help link Tylorstown Surgery up with the group. Katy’s role was to speak to the veterans and their families and signpost them to the group if suitable.  

At the group, Annette provides food and refreshments for the members and sits to chat with them, making sure they get support from the GPs, Wellbeing Coordinators and the Liaison Officer in RCT when needed. She makes everyone feel welcome and able to share their stories, while also helping to make the group a registered charity so they can apply for funding. Annette is hoping that with the support of the Health Board, the group can have some raised beds and a garden space at the rear of the surgery in Maerdy.  

Annette is due to attend the Armed Forces Picnic in the Park to share the great work the group is achieving: The group has recently had its 1st anniversary and has been recognised for its services to Wellbeing by being shortlisted for the Welsh Veterans Award in the Health and Wellbeing category.

Annette told us, “I have seen how much my sister helped the armed forces community and thought it would be nice for a GP Practice to provide the service as there are not that many services in this Valley (Rhondda Fach)”. Annette said she would also like to recognise and thank the continued support and contributions to the group from Practice Manager Paula Morgan and Dr. Heena Singhal who is the Clinical Veteran GP lead.

Katy, Wellbeing Coordinator at Interlink RCT:

“As a Wellbeing Coordinator for this surgery and now a friend of Annettes, I can see the immense pride she has of the members of the group and everything they have achieved. She goes into the surgery in her own time to open up, she buys ingredients with her own money to provide home-cooked food along with hot & cold drink. She sends Birthday Cards to the Veterans and has made keep sake wooden key rings for the members – The difference it has made to the members is huge. The group is approximately 15 strong now with a mix of regular and new members. Some of the members have said how nice it is to just be able to come and sit with other like-minded people ‘who just get it’. 

Some bring photos, medals, share stories and ask for advice. Some come to just sit and join in. They came up with their own name and now have a Facebook page as well.”

Exciting times are ahead for the group. Rhondda Fach Veterans have also got in touch with the Community Advice Team to receive Peer Mentoring from GGCA (Gilfach Goch Community Assosiation) to help them formalise as a charity and apply for funding to develop the group to achieve even more.


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