A SUPPORT project for armed forces veterans in the Helensburgh and Lomond area has celebrated its first birthday as a registered charity - by handing out cakes to members in lockdown.

The Garelochhead Station Trust (GST) launched in 2018 and recently marked one year since it gained official charity status.

The trust provides information, support, training and social opportunities for veterans and their families and throughout the recent lockdown trustees have been helping with the delivery of prescriptions and other essentials to those in shielding.

With the regular schedule of brunch club meet-ups, activities and outings still on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, organisers welcomed the anniversary by delivering a tasty treat to each of the near-100 members.

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Project coordinator Morevain Martin said it has been "exceptionally important" for veterans to maintain the support network offered by the GST whilst social events have been postponed or cancelled.

"We haven't been able to hold any events or run our weekly brunch club, but we have adapted," Morevain told the Advertiser.

"All our members get an email every week with information and guidance. Others who are not online get letters through the post.

"We sent out cards at Easter, we sent out instructions on how to make bunting for VE Day and we've sent out positivity cards as well.

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"We are still very much a proactive organisation supporting our members and we feel as though, even in these very difficult circumstances, our members feel engaged and supported. We are looking forward to delivering services face-to-face when we're allowed to.

"During lockdown it's been about sending out cards, birthday cakes, information - adapting rather than stopping our support.

"We have been really lucky in that we are one of the organisations involved with Argyll and Bute Council's Caring for People scheme, so we've been delivering prescriptions and food packages. I can't say thanks enough to those trustees who stepped forward and assisted."

Morevain said the trust is still in negotiations to take over the lease of the disuse Garelochhead railway station building and although the process has been delayed by the events of the last few months, plans are once again being drawn up for the future.

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She said: "We have draft plans for activities restarting. We've applied for funding for the brunch club to ensure we have all the correct measures in place for social distancing, PPE and hand sanitising when it resumes.

"We have pencilled in trips, events and training for later this year but nothing is set in stone yet, everything could still change.

"You have to be positive and if you don't plan it, it won't happen.

"It's very much the case that the project has gone from strength to strength over this first year as a registered charity and we've got aspirations to continue delivering the services that our members require."

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