Combat2Coffee shop due to open in Bury St Edmunds
- Credit: The team
The loss of a comrade has been the "driver" for three 1 Royal Anglian veterans to help open a coffee shop to support ex and current military personnel's mental health.
Former 1 Royal Anglian soldiers Major Ian Robinson, Major David Granfield and Captain Tony Buff took on a gruelling Welsh mountains challenge to support Combat2Coffee.
Founded by ex-soldier Nigel Seaman, Combat2Coffee now has two coffee shops in Ipswich and money raised by 'The Vikings' veterans will go towards opening one in Bury St Edmunds.
Maj Robinson said after the loss of Sgt Mathew Slater, known as 'Slats' - whom the mountaineers had served alongside in Afghanistan - it had "hit home to us" the continued need to de-stigmatise mental health problems.
The 53-year-old, from Kentford, near Newmarket, said: "Our particular focus is with veterans and service personnel.
"There are people out there who find some periods in their life quite challenging and if we can get them support before it gets to crisis point - and stop it getting to the most desperate stage - then that's a fantastic thing."
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The Combat2Coffee shop in Bury St Edmunds is planned to be at the Constitutional Club in the town centre and will be somewhere ex and current servicemen and women can have a chat and, if needed, be signposted to support.
General members of the public are also very welcome to come along too.
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"The idea is it's a bit of a support hub," said Maj Robinson, who is the military liaison officer for Suffolk for the Covid-19 response.
"If you just want to have a coffee and say hello you can do that. But if you feel you need more professional help possibly it's easier to ask while you are just having a coffee with someone."
Mr Seaman said: "There are a lot of veterans and serving personnel in Suffolk.
"You have Honington round the corner from Bury and Wattisham, and there are a lot of veterans and families who suffer in silence. If we help one person that's a success in itself."
The Welsh 3000s challenge saw Maj Robinson, Maj Granfield and Cap Buff tackle 15 mountains in 24 hours, starting on July 20 and finishing the next day.
They have so far raised more than £8,000, smashing their £5,000 goal, on their gofundme page.
Maj Robinson said the financial and moral support had been "fantastic," adding the cause had resonated with people.
Mr Seaman said he was "very humbled" to have the backing of his former bosses, which was testament to how well the project is doing.
Combat2Coffee has recently been announced as a finalist for the Soldiering On Awards.
The Bury coffee shop is due to open around September. Any companies that can help support the project should contact Mr Seaman on 07429 439766.