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Colchester: England rugby star Matt Dawson visits Colchester Garrison

PUBLISHED: 16:20 04 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:20 04 September 2014

Soldiers at Colchester Garrison are getting high-quality meals that will help them stay fighting fit and put money back into their pockets thanks to new dining facilities.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), working with industry partners RMPA and Sodexo Defence, has delivered two new pay as you dinerestaurants at Merville Barracks, which were officially opened today (Thursday September4). 

It was opened by former England rugby international and BBC Question of Sport star Matt Dawson, Sodexo's health and wellbeing ambassador.

Soldiers at Colchester Garrison are getting high-quality meals that will help them stay fighting fit and put money back into their pockets thanks to new dining facilities. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), working with industry partners RMPA and Sodexo Defence, has delivered two new pay as you dinerestaurants at Merville Barracks, which were officially opened today (Thursday September4). It was opened by former England rugby international and BBC Question of Sport star Matt Dawson, Sodexo's health and wellbeing ambassador.

Crown Copyright 2014: This image may be used for current news purposes only.

A former England rugby star ran a joint coaching session with Colchester-based soldiers for local school children during a visit to the town’s garrison.

Former England rugby international and BBC ˜Question of Sport star Matt Dawson, Sodexo's health and wellbeing ambassador, hosted a rugby coaching session for children from Mongomery Junior School on Thursday September 4 Former England rugby international and BBC ˜Question of Sport star Matt Dawson, Sodexo's health and wellbeing ambassador, hosted a rugby coaching session for children from Mongomery Junior School on Thursday September 4

Matt Dawson, also a team captain on BBC’s Question of Sport, was at Merville Barracks yesterday to open a new community cafe.

He was visiting in his role as health and wellbeing ambassador for Sodexo, one of the partners in a Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) project to improve dining facilities on base, and donned a pinny to serve up fresh food in a new dining hall.

Mr Dawson opened the Eagles Rock Cafe. Funded by the Colchester Garrison Welfare Committee, the new cafe allows armed forces’ families to enjoy a drink or lunch with friends at their community centre, in Fallowfield Road.

Before opening the dining facilities Mr Dawson joined soldiers from 12 Air Assault Support Regiment the Royal Logistic Corps as they demonstrated rugby and military fitness to children from Montgomery Junior and Infant schools, which have a majority of children from military families.

Two other new dining halls were opened by Maj Gen Mark Armstrong, of DIO, who said: “As a former commanding officer in 16 Air Assault Brigade with soldiers based in Colchester it is a delight to see the introduction of such a modern dining opportunity.”

Merville Barracks is the latest Army base to implement Pay As You Dine, allowing military personnel to only pay for what they eat instead of the previous system where a flat rate was paid per month for food even if they did not eat three meals a day.

Colonel Gary Wilkinson, Commander of Colchester Garrison, said: “We are committed to providing the best facilities possible across Colchester Garrison for both soldiers and their families.

“At Merville Barracks the new dining facilities will provide troops with better choice and control over what they eat, while the Eagle’s Rock Café represents a significant improvement to the facilities for our families in Colchester and is based on what they have asked us to provide. We hope the cafe will quickly become the heart of the garrison community.”

Fewer vulnerable people across the region will go hungry thanks to the opening of a new food distribution hub in Ipswich.

Essex County Council is set to put its element of tax bills up by almost 5% from April as it prepares for the day when financial help from the government ceases.

The University of Suffolk has announced Professor Helen Langton will succeed Richard Lister OBE as vice-chancellor this summer.

The amount paid out due to medical blunders at the region’s mental health trust has increased five-fold in five years, new figures reveal.

A father-of-three suffering severe walking problems has spoken of his gratitude to surgeons at Ipswich Hospital after becoming the first patient in the east of England to receive a pioneering knee operation.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said it is “inconceivable” that the Copdock Mill interchange between the A14 and A12 south of Ipswich will not be rebuilt over the medium term.

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