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Veterans visit the HMS Queen Elizabeth

The Joining Forces programme has now ended

Joining Forces was an Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust supported programme in partnership with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. It was delivered by 12 local projects across England by local Age UKs and SSAFA branches. After 3 successful years, the programme has now ended. Many of the pages in this section will still be useful for information and advice. Alternatively, you can look at the relevant sections of the Age UK website.

Joining Forces provides some unique opportunities. Just recently, for example, veterans from Age UK Portsmouth Joining Forces were recently invited for a tour of HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy. You can share the experience by watching our video.

An impressive scale

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers, which also includes HMS Prince of Wales – the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.

“She’s more than 280 metres long, which is longer than the Houses of Parliament, and 56 metres high, which is taller than Nelson’s Column,” explained Petty Officer Neil Dyer, who gave the veterans a detailed tour of the ship’s many decks. This included a stop for tea and biscuits on the bridge, which provided an impressive elevated view over Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard – as well as an opportunity for everyone to swap stories.

Intergenerational experiences

“It’s really nice for veterans to see how things have advanced, in terms of the technology and ways of operating, in the years since these veterans served,” says Kandy Lucas, Socialisation Manager at Age UK Portsmouth. “Even with all those changes, however, there are still things that everyone, whatever their age, will have in common, so this is also a great opportunity for the veterans to discuss their experiences with the serving personnel, and vice versa.”

A useful coincidence

“It was always an idea of ours to bring the veterans to see the Queen Elizabeth,” explains Kandy of how this unique opportunity came to pass. “I later received an application from Samantha Spencer, one of the personnel serving on the ship who very kindly arranged this trip and put it together for us. It’s been a wonderful day for everyone.”

Joining Forces Portsmouth

Joining Forces Portsmouth offers free befriending support and a range of social activities for older veterans, including a Breakfast Club and Coffee Club.

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Last updated: Jun 16 2020

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