Tommy's Lounge: Crowdfunder launched to save Yorkshire cafe which provides lifeline to veterans

As a safe space for veterans Tommy's Lounge has already proved a lifeline to those it supports.

But then the energy bills arrived, totalling £800 for less than a month. A crowdfunding campaign has now raised more than £3,500 but more help is needed for it to survive.

The Huddersfield cafe, launched in September, is open to all but particularly aimed at veterans and those who are struggling with the transition to civilian life.

For owner Jennie Thorn, it's a lifeline to those that use it.

Jennie Thorn and Sue Longbottom with some of their customers at Tommy's Lounge in HuddersfieldJennie Thorn and Sue Longbottom with some of their customers at Tommy's Lounge in Huddersfield
Jennie Thorn and Sue Longbottom with some of their customers at Tommy's Lounge in Huddersfield

She said: "This is the first of its kind - there's nothing like this in the UK. It's open to everybody. As a safe space, a warm space.

"People feel they can relax and be themselves, with other people who have that same understanding of a shared experience. Who have been through what they've been through."

The team helps veterans with advice and guidance, linking them with mental health counselling, food banks, housing and benefits.

It's a close knit group, with a certain camaraderie. When the veterans had their festive meal in the lounge on Christmas Eve they saved two empty chairs.

Tommy's Lounge in Huddersfield.Tommy's Lounge in Huddersfield.
Tommy's Lounge in Huddersfield.

Two regulars had died just before Christmas, Ray Williams, 85, who had flown Lancasters and Vulcans in the RAF and John Tracey who served in the army.

At Tommy's, there are dominos games and cards, and there is a scheme where people can donate to buy a veteran a soft drink or a meal. The walls are lined with maps, tunics, uniforms, berets and military memorabilia.

One uniform was donated by Guardsman Alex Harrison, injured in Afghanistan in 2007. Shot in the head, he lost an eye while raiding a Taliban compound with the Grenadier Guards.

Another veteran, named only as Beno, served 17 years in the Parachute Regiment.

“Without Tommy’s Lounge I wouldn’t be here today," he said. "I wouldn’t have the state of mind I’ve got now - which is looking positive for the future. If I ever feel down I come here for support and ease of mind you don’t find anywhere else."

Crowdfunding campaigns, on GoFundMe, have now raised £3,673 to keep the cafe open. Miss Thorn was blown away - some of the donations top £500 from veterans’ groups.

"We weren't expecting it," she said. “We thought people might donate a pound or two here or there. It means we've been able to chip away, keep the doors open."

Miss Thorn's partner Mick Riley, a former Regimental Sergeant Major, was having to fund a large part from his work as a lorry driver.

Miss Thorne ran a community interest company in Mirfield called Behind the Heroes before she launched Tommy's Lounge with the support of her mum Sue Longbottom.

"To those who have donated - a massive thank you," she said. "It helps the community of the armed forces, and the community of Huddersfield. It’s one of a kind, the first of a kind and, hopefully, not the last of its kind."

To support the fundraising campaign visit