25th July 2011 back to news

Official opening of new houses for veterans

Two new houses for veterans were officially opened today (22 July) in Airdrie, providing modern accommodation to meet the needs of ex-Service people with disabilities.

David Ross, Partner at Graham + Sibbald comments: “We have been extremely honoured to have been involved in a project of this nature, providing both in-house architectural  related services and project management duties.”

The Henry Smith Cottage and The Watson Cottage have been built next to two existing cottages at Aitchison Street, which have been extensively refurbished throughout. Each of the four cottages has two/three bedrooms with full wheelchair access.  All have wet room showers, parking and share communal gardens.

The development is part of a project being run by The Scottish Veterans’ Garden City Association (SVGCA), a charity that provides and maintains housing for veterans with disabilities.  The Airdrie cottages were built as part of a £6 million programme to build 60 new houses across Scotland.  The project, launched in April 2008, under the title of Houses for Heroes, aims to ensure that more veterans from past and, increasingly, current conflicts are able to be supported in suitable accommodation tailored to their needs.  So far £3.3 million has been raised and 22 houses have been completed.

The former Chairman of SVGCA, Colonel Robert Watson OBE, said: “SVGCA met the challenge in 1915 and today, as the largest disabled ex-Service housing charity in the UK, continues to do so with these new houses for the young veterans of recent and current wars and their families.

The new Chairman of SVGCA, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Callander OBE TD, added: “We are proud to say that we are the only charity at present whose remit is to meet the housing challenges faced by Servicemen and women who have been injured and suffer disabilities. This is demonstrated through our work with the military’s Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU), in which we have supported 41 individuals who have been prioritised for housing.   The next phase of the programme will be the building of eight new houses in Milton of Leys, Inverness.  This phase of will cost £1.2 million, of which we have raised £400,000, and we are actively seeking to raise the remaining £800,000.”

At the opening ceremony of the cottages a plaque was unveiled in recognition of the benefactors, The Henry Smith Charity, Poppyscotland, Scottish War Blinded and The Beatrice Laing Trust.

Poppyscotland has contributed £1 million to the Houses for Heroes appeal.

One of the tenants of the refurbished cottages, Christopher Stawarz, who served for six and a half years in 2nd battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers before losing his leg in a training accident, commented: “Getting this house is a huge relief and is somewhere that is suitable for my needs and provides security for me and my family.”

Also attending the ceremony were the Provost of North Lanarkshire, Tom Curley, builders Ross & Laidlaw from Glasgow, surveyors Graham + Sibbald, local SVGCA tenants and Lt Col Mark Steed, Commanding Officer of the Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU) based at the Army HQ in Edinburgh.  SVGCA works very closely with the PRU to provide housing support to young disabled veterans who have to be discharged from the Services.

Group Photo Caption: Representatives from all parties involved with the new homes for veterans. Left to right: Colonel Robert Watson (SVGCA), Lt Col Steed (Personnel Recovery Unit), Lt Col Richard Callandar (SVGCA), Mary Sweeney, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, Douglas Osler, Tom Curley (Provost of North Lanarkshire), Jan McLaughlin-Mack (Deputy Lord Lieutenant), Fraser Bedwell (Poppyscotland).