New cafe offers helping hand to our town’s heroes

nrhn 201011 Helping hands: Iona Brooks and friend Iris Synnott take up paint brushes in getting the new Heroes Cafe ready for opening day in November.

nrhn 201011 Helping hands: Iona Brooks and friend Iris Synnott take up paint brushes in getting the new Heroes Cafe ready for opening day in November.

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A HEANOR cafe is to reopen as a one-stop help hotspot for the town’s ex-servicemen and women.

It marks another positive step for the town, days after the News and the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce has called on Heanor folk to attend a public meeting at the Wilmot Street Centre on Wednesday, November 30 to try and get the town back on its feet.

Details of the meeting, which is set to run between 6pm and 7pm, are now available via the chamber’s website www.dncc.co.uk.

The former Cafe No.1 on Market street is set to open in mid - November offering a range of rehabilitation and training courses for former military personnel.

The cafe project is being set up by Chesterfield based charity, Gamelea Countryside Training Trust and will also see two new half-way homes open on Whysall Street for homeless people who have served in the forces.

Founder of the trust, Elizabeth Hill, says the new Heroes Cafe will help bring the Heanor community together. She said: “We understand that Heanor has quite a high population of people recruited into the services. We have had lots of interested people wanting to volunteer for the project already.

“We are also hoping a cafe will help in the regeneration of Heanor’s high street.”

Elizabeth said the trust was looking into funding the initial cost of setting up the service - but hopes the money generated by the cafe would keep the centre running. Ex-servicemen and women will be able to drop into the cafe for advice, enrol on occupational therapy courses or take part in skills workshops to help them get back into work.

The project will also see two people employed by the Gamelea Countryside and Training Trust, in both the cafe and the halfway home. Six people are already volunteering at the cafe.

One such volunteer, Iona Brooks, 70, from Flamstead Avenue in Loscoe served in the Women’s Royal Army Corps at Liphook, Hampshire in the 1950s. She said: “There’s been nothing like this in all the time I have lived here except for the British Legion. I think it will be great when it’s open.”

A fundraising ball is set to take place at Shottle Hall on November 26 to gain further funds for the project. Tickets can be bought by calling Elizabeth on 01246 568206.