YORKSHIRE servicemen and women injured while fighting for their country can finally remain within the region for state-of-the-art treatment with the launch of a multi-million pound recovery facility in Catterick Garrison.
The centre, called Phoenix House and now opened at Cambrai Barracks in Europe’s largest Army base in North Yorkshire, is the newest of a raft of personnel recovery and assessment facilities planned across the country as part of a £100m programme to address the growing numbers of battle casualties coming home from Afghanistan.
Nearly 40 recovering Armed Forces personnel have moved in to the interim facility this month, which will provide support to wounded, injured and sick soldiers and their families, and is part of a permanent rehabilitation centre planned to be built at the garrison by 2013 in a combined £12m scheme.
A support hub of welfare agencies and service charities is also to be established alongside it.
Previously, injured Yorkshire soldiers have had to travel to rehabilitation centres in other parts of the country, despite being one of the biggest recruitment areas for the Armed Forces.
Welcoming the opening of the interim centre, which is a partnership between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Armed Forces charities, Bryn Parry, CEO and co-founder of Help For Heroes, said: “When you look at the level of conflict, we are not hearing about it every day.
“It is either Libya or the economy on the front pages, but this fight is still going on.
“All the other recovery centres around the country are now full.
“Yorkshire and the North-East is the biggest recruiting area for the Army and therefore it is very important that Catterick is the hub for the support of soldiers.
“We’re delighted that Phoenix House in Catterick is now available in the North where our wounded and their families can access a comprehensive support network and prepare for life outside of the services.”
Corporal Andy Garthwaite, 24, from the Catterick-based Queens Royal Lancers, who lost his right arm in a rocket propelled grenade attack while on patrol in Afghanistan last year, said his rehabilitation has led to him being forced to drive across the country including regular trips to the defence medical rehabilitation centre at Headley Court in Surrey.
He will start a series of education classes at Phoenix House this month.
“It will be a wonderful addition to Catterick Garrison,” he said.
“When you are in that environment with other soldiers they are all in the same boat and it really helps.
“You have got other people to speak to and people who have been through the same thing you have. To have this centre in the area now is just great.
“The centre and staff will provide great support to wounded, injured and sick service personnel who are on the road to recovery and to those who may be leaving the services.”
The interim recovery centre boasts temporary residential accommodation, classrooms and catering facilities, training facilities and a new state-of-the-art gym.
The unit will be paid for by Help For Heroes, with the Royal British Legion contributing £8.5m towards running costs – estimated to be £11m over the first 10 years.
It will fit into part of a wider Defence Recovery Capability programme for soldiers who have lost limbs, gone blind or are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, which is supported by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, among others.
Other personnel recovery centres are to be delivered in Edinburgh, Colchester, Tidworth and Plymouth.