A scheme to publicly show support for armed forces personnel is being launched in Middlesbrough.
Heroes Welcome gives businesses the opportunity to indicate a warm welcome, special acknowledgement or discount to serving or former armed services personnel and their families.
Middlesbrough’s elected Mayor Ray Mallon decided to introduce the scheme in the town as part of a year long partnership between Middlesbrough Council and the Yorkshire Regiment.
So far more than 50 towns and cities have joined the Heroes Welcome scheme across the UK. Middlesbrough is the first in the Teesside area to sign up.
John Senior, from Scarborough, is the national co-ordinator for Heroes Welcome and created the scheme in 2008 after he saw a spate of news articles showing a disconnect between the armed forces and the rest of Britain.
He placed a hand drawn poster in the window of one of his restaurants in Scarborough and support grew from there. Mr Senior will be helping to launch the scheme in Middlesbrough on Tuesday.
Mr Senior, delighted that Heroes Welcome is coming to Middlesbrough, said: “It’s a great pleasure to be able to extend a warm welcome to the people of Middlesbrough.
“The commitment and support shown to members of the Armed Forces by the Mayor and council is much appreciated by all in the service.”
Mayor Ray Mallon said: “We owe members and former members of the armed forces a huge debt of gratitude.
“The Heroes Welcome scheme is a simple but effective way of showing that gratitude and how we appreciate all they do and have done for the country.
“I really hope businesses in Middlesbrough will join the scheme and show their support.”
Around 450 businesses in the town centre will this week be sent a window sticker and letter explaining the scheme so they can take part in the scheme if they choose to.
Any other businesses which want to take part in the scheme simply have to contact the Council to be sent a sticker.
White’s café in Middlesbrough town centre is the first business to sign up and are offering a 20% discount to service personnel.
Julie Volans, owner of White’s Café, said: “Our armed forces personnel are a tribute to the country and put their lives on the line day after day for our ultimate benefit.
“It’s an honour to be able to support them and to say thank you when they are home. They are true heroes.”
Lt Col David O’Kelly, the Regimental Secretary of the Yorkshire Regiment said, “The importance of the Heroes Welcome scheme cannot be over stated.
“It is a tremendous way for the local community to show its support for servicemen and women in general and the Yorkshire Regiment in particular.
“The scheme places no great demands on individual businesses but it does have a great impact on the soldier and his family because of the recognition and gratitude it shows them.
“I am sure that the Middlesbrough community will be pleased and proud to adopt the Heroes Welcome”.
Lt Col Toby Gray CG Vice President of the Coldstream Guards Association (Middlesbrough), said: “My soldiers and I really appreciate the special welcome given and thank the people of Middlesborugh for their support.”
Middlesbrough Council is taking part in the scheme with a 10% discount at its leisure facilities for military personnel and up to six family members including leisure centres, Middlesbrough Golf Centre and Newham Grange Country Farm.
The Yorkshire Regiment is the ‘local’ regiment for Middlesbrough and recruits heavily from the town and the Teesside area.
The year long partnership between Middlesbrough Council and the Yorkshire Regiment aims to highlight the pride the town has in the regiment and raise funds for its charity arm the Yorkshire Regiment Benevolent Fund.
So far money has been raised with collection boxes around council buildings, a Yorkshire Regiment team ran in the 5k road race and the regiment will be present at council events throughout the summer and later in the year.
To take part in the Heroes Welcome in Middlesbrough scheme contact Susie Joscelyne on 01642 729645 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“To encourage British cities, towns and organisations to join Heroes Welcome UK, in order to give support, quiet recognition and a little hospitality to Armed Forces Personnel and their families.”
By way of proof to access the scheme all service personnel carry a clearly marked Military ID card.
Any discount or upgrade offered is entirely up to the discretion of the business.