THE chairman of a Garelochhead community group set up to offer advice and support to armed forces veterans says he hopes to kickstart a ‘domino effect’ of improved mental health services in the area.

The Garelochhead Station Trust was launched towards the end of 2018 through a partnership with the Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust (KSRHT), which works to try and return disused railway station buildings back into community use.

The Trust is currently operating out of the Gibson Hall and is hoping to gain charitable status later this year. It will hold regular drop-in sessions and run courses at the village’s railway station to assist former military personnel in their transition from being on duty to living everyday life.

Chairman Alan Moodie – a Falklands and Gulf War veteran himself - says preparations are already well under way and he hopes the newly-formed organisation will have an immediate and lasting impact in Garelochhead and the peninsula.

He told the Advertiser: “Going on my own experiences, I left Faslane in 2004, and when you’ve been institutionalised in the armed forces for most of your life, then, all of a sudden, they take your ID card off you, it’s as if you don’t exist.

“There’s a lot of us veterans around that found it difficult to go from the military doing everything for you to coming out and being on your own.

“We’re quite a rural community around the peninsula, but there’s loads of us about and there’s nothing for anybody to come to if you don’t want to go to a proper institution.

“When you’re in the military, it’s like a band of brothers. You rely on those people and you’d rather talk to those people because they’ve been there and done it.

“We have a saying, ‘always look after your oppo,’ and that’s the motto throughout all the services, whether it’s the RAF, army or navy, so, basically that’s what we’re trying to do, look after our oppos.”

The initial plans for the new health and wellbeing hub were revealed in the Advertiser back in December and since then, Alan says the project has gained momentum and support from the local community but admits there is still work to be done.

READ MORE: Plans unveiled for veterans hub at Garelochhead station.

He said: “Just by talking to people when I’m out and meeting other veterans, people are interested and when I tell them about it they say ‘sign me up’.

“Once the word gets out there, I think the floodgates will open and people will come and want to be involved.

“There’s people out there who want to help, but we need to find the people who want to be helped.

“When we get up and running, we want to work with the whole community and there will be a knock-on effect.

“Although we’re targeting veterans, a lot of people don’t realise that all you have to do to be classed as a veteran is having served in the forces, whether it be one day or 10 years.

“We’ll try and help anybody.

“It might only be an old lady who needs her grass cut, but we can get a couple of veterans together and get it done. A little thing can go a long way, especially in the small communities like we’ve got around the peninsula.”

By holding drop-in sessions, running a fortnightly brunch club and organising events and activities, the benefits of regular gatherings with like-minded people will be widespread for the veterans and the local community.

Primary school pupils have already been involved in designing a logo and the Trust now wants to hear the public’s views moving forward.

Alan added: “We’re trying to secure funding for the first three years, so that we’ve got a base to work from and it’s not just all up in the air after the first year.

“We all want this to happen and we’re all keen as mustard as we say in the navy!

“We’re not going to let it fail because we don’t do that. We want to hear from the people out there, we want their ideas, what do they want?

“We know what we can provide, but if there’s something that they really want then let us know.”

Follow the Trust’s progress on Facebook or contact project coordinator Morevain Martin for more information, on 07541777551 or