Ex-soldier opens up Scots holiday home to veterans

AN 84-year-old former soldier is playing Santa to wounded and injured veterans by offering free holidays in Scotland.

Veteran Johnathan Lee with wife Dawn and children Hazel, three, and 11-month-old David. Picture: Contributed

Ex-Grenadier Philip Heard is offering his stunning west coast holiday home to veterans from all over Britain.

Originally from Devon, Philip moved up to Scotland 31 years ago and became a farmer after leaving the army.

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He has built a beautiful house next to his own home at Glenbarr, near Tarbert, with spectacular island and sea views.

He has offered it to military charities, including Help for Heroes, for use by service personnel and veterans and their families.

Philip said: “My father was left very disabled after World War One so Help for Heroes is a cause that is very close to my heart.

“I built this house for service personnel and veterans and their families to get a much-needed break.

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“I have 12 families booked in from Help for Heroes, they are coming from all over the country but I would like to see it used by more Scottish veterans as well.

“It is in a beautiful part of Scotland and would suit anyone of any age. I am keen to share the quiet, beautiful surroundings that Glenbarr has to offer.”

Philip has set up the holiday home as a charity, Island View Forces Respite Association.

He does not charge for use of the property, which sleeps eight to ten people, with the only charge being a £25 per week cleaning fee.

The house is accessible to wheelchair users downstairs and also has two bedrooms upstairs. Philip is also looking for support from a supplier or manufacturer who can donate a stairlift to allow wheelchair users to use the upstairs rooms as well.

Help for Heroes has 12 families booked into the holiday home, many of whom are having their first holiday in years.

Afghanistan veteran Johnathan Lee, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, has just enjoyed a week’s holiday with wife Dawn and children Hazel, three, and 11-month-old David.

Johnathan, who lost a leg after being caught in a roadside blast in Helmand province in 2007, said: “Glenbarr is a beautiful place and what a very nice gentleman Philip Heard is to give us this offer.

“We had a brilliant time, there is no phone signal and internet in the accommodation so it was total peace and quiet.

“There were lots of lovely places to visit nearby and the children particularly enjoyed the beautiful beaches.”

Alison Richmond, of Help for Heroes, said: “We are so grateful to Mr Heard for his generosity in donating his lovely holiday home so our wounded, injured and sick veterans and their families can enjoy a holiday in such peaceful and scenic surroundings.

“For some, it could be their first holiday in years and will allow them to spend much-needed quality time with their families.”

Help for Heroes is calling for the public to join Philip in showing the Christmas spirit by sending a message of support to our heroes this Christmas by visiting www.h4hchristmas.org/ourheroes

Help for Heroes organises coffee mornings throughout Scotland, as well as a fortnightly drop-in centre in Edinburgh called Veterans Café which is extremely popular and provides tai chi, yoga and free drinks and snacks.

Anyone who served in the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines or Royal Air Force who needs the support of Help for Heroes Phoenix House Recovery Centre can self-refer by calling 01748 834148.