New Recruit for the VC Gallery

Kevin Stanley during his time with the Royal Navy

Kevin Stanley is the new project lead at the VC Gallery’s Tackling Loneliness Programme funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund for the next two years.

Though Kevin has been involved with the Pembrokeshire charity for some time, after he offered to help with maintenance work, founder Barry John and manager Steph Cross recognised his potential and saw he would be perfect in the role to support older veterans in the county.

The VC, with premises in Haverfordwest and Pembroke Dock, works with veterans and the wider community to advise and support anyone with welfare and emotional issues through a number of projects.

“My role,” said Kevin “is to offer a helping hand, to connect veterans to their community as well as dealing with a wider range of welfare issues, including form filling, housing, food, employment and debt. Part of the project will be to identify more male and female veterans within Pembrokeshire by taking our mobile museum to various residential homes, village halls etc to meet ex-Forces personnel wherever they might live.”

Kevin was born into an Army family in Bicester, Oxfordshire, but by the time he was eight weeks old he was living in Jamaica, returning to the UK when he was two. There followed the typical life of a child of the Services, with time spent growing up in Antwerp, in Belgium, then Hanover, in Germany, and other places in the UK,  finally settling on the South Coast. He joined the Royal Navy in 1972 and served for 10 years.

His life has given him a varied and interesting set of skills starting with his training as a Royal Navy electrician, working mainly on control and communications equipment and associated electrical distribution systems. Following his Navy career, he remained in the electrical industry, carrying out installation, servicing and maintenance of various types of equipment: “I have been able to pass on these skills to a variety of people, from Services personnel (both Army and Navy) to prison inmates, and individuals recovering from mental ill health.”

But it isn’t just Kevin’s practical skills that have made him so welcome at the VC Gallery. He is clearly a man who has great compassion, warmth and humour.

“I am actively involved as a VC peer mentor with visiting veterans at home, in care homes and in day centres delivering a ‘battle box’ tour, or memory box. This is a great way of introducing the VC Gallery and, where possible, to get people to come and visit one of our galleries and meet new people. A great bunch of  veteran volunteers are on hand throughout.”

It’s a busy job and Kevin has hit the ground running.

“The funding from  the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust for the Tackling Loneliness programme will allow us to offer Naafi breaks every weekday morning at our Pembroke Dock premises where there is food and drinks and help to access digital platforms. It’s an opportunity to catch up with fellow veterans and community users and make new friends. We have also revived our quiz which has been a favourite through lockdown. On the last Saturday of each month we have a veterans and their families Breakfast Club.

“By meeting with these veterans in these activities, we can help create new friendships, increasing people’s sphere of social contacts. This in turn aids with building emotional ties with like-minded veterans which will help with resilience in the face of loneliness.

To find out more about the Naafi breaks and the project in general, contact Kevin via email at kevin@thevcgallery.com or by calling 01646 685688.

Kevin is justifiably proud of bringing people together: “I have two friends who live alone, and one is ex-RN. I support these at a distance and feel good knowing that I’m there for them. I’m happy to say that we finally got them both to meet on holiday and they are now ‘an item’. In the next few months, they intend to move in together and there is talk of marriage – job done!’

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

You may also like...