On Monday 13 March, Colonel James Phillips, the Veterans' Commissioner for Wales was visiting Ceredigion and took the opportunity to meet with Age Cymru Dyfed at their office in Aberystwyth.

Colonel James Phillips visited to explore the charity’s work with older veterans in Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Age Cymru Dyfed gave an overview of the projects they’ve organised since 2019. A number of the projects discussed were; Valuing Veterans, Veterans Never To Be Forgotten, Veterans’ Digital Life Links & Easier Access to Services, West Wales Veterans Archive and Veterans in View.

The Veterans' Commissioner was introduced to the needs of older veterans in the Dyfed area. Clips were shown from the ITV Wales, Greatest Generation film and the West Wales Veterans Archive and there was an opportunity to discuss the events that have taken place since 2021; D-Day WW2 Veterans day in Aberporth in 2021, the RAF Battle of Britain Exhibition in the National Library of Wales in 2022 and the forthcoming Gordon Prime Memorial Ride in Pembrokeshire on Sunday, 16 April 2023. 

Councillor Paul Hinge, Ceredigion County Council Members Champion for Armed Forces, said: “A heartfelt thank you to Age Cymru Dyfed for facilitating this meeting which was very informative in the light of the 2021 census figures that have been released regarding numbers of Veterans in Wales and in Ceredigion in particular. Age Cymru Dyfed were able to provide further granular evidence to a very interesting meeting. It was good to have Colonel James Phillips present and for us to have a round table discussion on many topics of concern. Age Cymru Dyfed are doing fantastic work with the Veteran Community and we as a Armed Forces Covenant Forum appreciate their willingness to engage and help us to deliver on the needs of the Veteran Community.”

Colonel James Phillips, Veterans’ Commissioner for Wales, said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet with Age Cymru Dyfed at Aberystwyth during my visit to Ceredigion. I welcomed the wide ranging discussion on issues affecting older veterans and Age Cymru Dyfed's work to support them. I was particularly struck by their initiatives to tackle loneliness and isolation and their work on recording veterans' stories for the West Wales Veterans Archive. Our older veterans have given so much during their service and it is gratifying to see Age Cymru Dyfed and other Ceredigion-based charities doing so much to assist them."

Simon Wright, CEO Age Cymru Dyfed, said: “We were delighted that Col James Phillips, Veterans’ Commissioner for Wales was able to visit the charity’s Aberystwyth office and to hear first-hand how the charity has been able to support several hundred older veterans across Dyfed during the past four years. We have delivered several support projects including some outstanding and memorable events for older veterans and are now looking forward to the Gordon Prime Memorial Ride on 16 April to raise funds towards a national memorial to Despatch Riders, of which Gordon as a D-Day veteran was one. Age Cymru Dyfed trustees and the recently expanded veterans support team – two of whom are veterans themselves – are firmly committed to continuing to support older veterans through their latest project, Veterans in View.”

Hugh Morgan OBE, Veterans Coordinator for Age Cymru Dyfed, said: “Since 2019 Age Cymru Dyfed has operated specific projects providing support to older veterans in Ceredigion and throughout Dyfed. Five projects have received funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (AFCFT), Veterans Foundation and Welsh Government. Of particular note is the nationally award-winning and ever growing West Wales Veterans Archive held on People’s Collection Wales in the National Library, Aberystwyth, featuring unique interviews with veterans throughout Dyfed, ensuring that their recollections of military service can be heard and enjoyed by schools, researchers, historians and others for decades to come. The 2022 ITV Wales film ‘Greatest Generation’ developed from the West Wales Veterans Archive.

The charity currently operates a new project called ‘Veterans in View’ which is designed to identify and provide welfare support to ‘harder to reach’ older veterans. ‘Veterans in View’ is funded by the AFCFT (2023-2025) and driven by Age Cymru Dyfed’s two Veterans Welfare Officers, Neil Davies and Owen Dobson, both of whom are keen to hear from older veterans or their families. They can be contacted on Neil.davies@agecymrudyfed.org.uk or owen.dobson@agecymrudyfed.org.uk.”

Results from the 2021 Census show that over one third of all veterans living in Wales today are aged 80yrs+. Specifically, two thirds of the several hundred veterans supported by Age Cymru Dyfed are aged 80+. For more information on Age Cymru Dyfed visit: www.ageuk.org.uk/cymru/dyfed/