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Latest news from our Armed Forces Advocate

Veterans Coffee morning gets Jeep visit

Members of the LOuise Hamilton Centre team and those who support our Veterans Coffee Mornings pose with the Jeeps and their owners outside the Centre. Nine people are pictured standing in front of the Jeeps - two of which are green and the 1942 Jeep is sandy in colour.

Visitors to our Veterans Coffee Morning on Wednesday 26 June were greeted by the sight of three military Jeeps outside the Louise Hamilton Centre – with the vehicles including one made in the United States, in 1942, which saw service in north Africa with the Desert Rats, and the early days of the SAS.

To read more about the Jeeps and the visit please click here.


Flag raised for Armed Forces Day

The group of cadets salute as the flag is raised to the top of the flagpole outside the front of our hospital.

It’s Armed Forces Week and yesterday, Monday 24, members of the 901 Troop Marine Cadets, TS Fearless, visited our hospital to help us raise our flag ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 29 June.

Armed Forces Week is a chance to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community, from serving troops to Service families, veterans and cadets.

The Marine Cadets, based in Winterton, have previously supported the James Paget by working on our safe garden – a courtyard at our hospital which was specifically created for veterans, and those with learning disabilities, autism or dementia, to use as a quiet and calm space. One of the Troop instructors Jo-anne Brown, who works at our hospital, has set up links between the Cadets and our team.

Our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth, who had a 23-year career with the British Army before joining our hospital team, was among those at the flag raising. He currently works to support veterans – both patients and staff – who come to the James Paget, with his work including the setting up of regular Veterans Coffee Mornings, open to all those who have served with any branch of the UK Armed Services.  The next of these events is being held tomorrow, Wednesday, 26 June, in the Louise Hamilton Centre, on our hospital site, between 11am and 2pm.


Marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day

Chris Blyth lights the lamp in our Safe Garden. A small group of four individuals are pcitured looking on as the lamp is lit. Behind the group two boards of poppies are visible, as well as the 'lest we forget' mural painted on the wall.  

James Paget Hospital joined organisations nationwide in remembering the tens of thousands of people who gave service on D-Day 80 years ago at special ceremonies held at our hospital.

On Thursday 6 June lamps were lit to mark the anniversary of the operation conducted by allied forces that brought about the liberation of north-west Europe from Nazi occupation, helping secure the peace we enjoy today.

At 9.15pm, Hospital Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth lit the lamp at a ceremony in our Safe Garden, while James Paget Corporate Lead Nurse Tracie Bitters read the International Tribute, written especially for the anniversary, which remembered all those involved in D-Day, including the brave doctors and nurses who cared for the wounded.

Another lamp was lit on the hospital site at the Louise Hamilton Centre, at a ceremony attended by service veterans in the local community, where Louise Hamilton Centre Manager Sue Francis had prepared refreshments and a special D-Day display.

Some of the veterans and dignitaries gathered at the Louise Hamilton Centre lamp lighting, including centre manager Sue Francis.

Thanks following latest successful coffee morning

On the 27th March the Trust held another very successful coffee event with over 60 local veterans and family members attending.

The event, hosted by our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth, included presentations from The Royal British Legion Great Yarmouth Branch Chairman and Blind Veterans, and individuals attended from the RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Naval Association and Veterans Support Services to talk to attendees about the support they provide.

Chris said; "On behalf of everyone that attended I would like to say a big thank you to Fiona and the Project Search students and Sue Francis who gave up their time to organise and prepare all the food for the event which was greatly appreciated by everyone who attended."

Three of the guests at our Vaterans Coffee Morning in March sit listening to one of the speakers.

Above - Guests at the coffee morning; Below - Fiona, Sue and the Project Search team with the buffet. 

Fee and Sue and two of the Project Search students stand in front of the buffet tables with sandwiches and strawberry scones on them.

Organisations support veterans coffee mornings

The James Paget would like to say a big thank you to two organisations that have made donations to support our Veterans Coffee and Information Mornings.

The coffee morning events are held roughly every two months in the Louise Hamilton Centre on our hospital site and the funding of £500 from the Great Yarmouth Branch of the Royal British Legion and £300 from Bus Industrial Tools, based on South Beach Parade in Great Yarmouth, means events in 2024 can continue to be well supported.  

Our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth says; “These Coffee morning have proven very important to our local Veteran community with the last two events each seeing over 60 veterans and family members attend. These kind donations help provide food and hot drinks for all attendees and ensure these events can continue throughout 2024. We currently have five more events planned this year with the next one taking place on Wednesday 27th March.

“A number of organisations also attend the events including RBL, SSAFA, WWTW, RAFB, RNA and Op Courage to provide information and support to these who need it.”

Thank you to Bus Industrial Tools and the team at the Royal British Legion in Great Yarmouth for your support – it is much appreciated.

A thank you graphic which has a royal blue background with white writing on it. It says Thank you at the top and then has the name and logo of the two organisations who have donated - The Great Yarmouth Branch of the Royal British Legion and Bus Industrial Tools.


Veterans HABIT survey

The Veterans' Habit Study is a UK Veterans research project that aims to discover the destructive attitudes and behaviours leading to dysfunction and addictions, primarily gambling addiction. The study is focusing on understanding patterns and cause to develop future preventative or intervention measures within the British Armed Force and MOD.

If you are a veteran or know someone who is struggling with addiction you are invited to find out more by visiting the study website;  

To complete the survey, please click on the image below for a PDF version of the poster, which has an active link to take you to the survey.

Veterans HABIT Survey poster, which features a photo of a man in uniform and a woman with blonde hair wearing a blue denim jacket and holding a dark umbrella hugging. Neither of their faces is visible. The background is a red brick wall.



Coffee morning sees large attendance & poppy presentation

A room full of people at our coffee mrning event, held in the Louise Hamitlon Centre.

Our latest Veterans Coffee Morning has proved a huge success, with perhaps the biggest attendance since the events started a year ago.

The event, yesterday, also saw the handover of a beautiful new addition to our hospital safe garden – two trellises covered in knitted poppies. This has been created by Jean Sherwood, from Hemsby, who knitted 365 poppies, one for each day of the year, as a tribute to a friend. The two trellises, which were constructed by Jean’s other half David and Terry Byrne, will now be positioned in the safe garden, which was created in one of our hospital courtyards to provide a safe open space for veteran patients and those living with dementia, autism and learning disabilities, and their families.

Jean and Chris with the two trellises, which are about 6ft tall and covered in knitted red poppies.

Jean is pictured here with our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth with the trellises.

Chris has now organised more dates for coffee morning events in 2024 and anyone who has served is welcome to attend any of these dates; 17 January, 27 March, 15 May, 26 June, 18 September and 13 November.

As usual, these will be held on a Wednesday between 11am and 2pm and will include light buffet refreshments.

We’d like to thank all those who have attended events during 2023 and also thank our Project Search team, who have supported the serving of refreshments at the coffee mornings, and Top Body Gym in Gorleston and Great Yarmouth Borough Council who have funded the events.

Some of the Project Search team stand behind a table with paper cups on it. All face the camera smiling.


Paget receives Gold Award recognition

Our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth and our Chief Nurse Paul Morris are pictured receiving a framed Gold Award ceritifcate from a gentleman in a red and black jacket with military medals and insignia on. Both Paul and Chris wear black dinner jackets, black bow ties and white shirts.

On 28th September our Chief Nurse Paul Morris and Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth were invited to the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold awards evening to accept the Gold award on behalf of the Trust.

The evening took place at the Churchill War rooms in London and included all 11 Gold Award  organisations in East Anglia.

Chris said; “This award recognises the Trust’s ongoing support to the local Armed Forces community, something which we are very proud of and will continue to build on in the future.”

You can read more about the award here;


Veterans Aware best practice conference

On Wednesday 20th September 2023 our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth attended the Veterans Aware best practice conference in London.

The aim was to celebrate what has been achieved together, and develop, share and drive the implementation of best practice that will improve our Armed Forces Community healthcare, while at the same discussing new ideas.

Guest speakers including Rt Hon Johnny Mercer MP (Minister for Veterans affairs) and Katie Davies CBE (NHS England) spoke about challenges that face veterans in the NHS and areas of best practice that had been identified to overcome these.

Chris said; “It was a really good event and interesting to find out new services that are available to support our veterans.”

Chris Blyth and a woman stand with a white board with a square cut out in the middle. The board resembles a Tweet which says NHS Veteran Aware at the top and then 'Have you or a family member served in the UK Armed Forces #NHSVeteranAware'. Both Chris and the lady in the photo wear white tops.

Ejiro and Katie take part in military leadership exercise

As a supportive employer of the Reserve Forces, the Trust was offered the exclusive opportunity to have two employees attend a one-day military leadership exercise – Future Leader.

On 13 July two members of staff - Discharge Pharmacist & Clinical Pharmacist Ejiro and Anatomical Pathology Technologist Katie - were selected to attend Exercise Future Leader 2023. The aim of the day was to introduce attendees the way the Army teaches leadership with a focus on theory and practical application.

Taking place at the Royal Norfolk Showground, both members of staff had a fantastic day and really enjoyed the experience.

Future Leader Course

Paget secures prestigious Gold Award

The James Paget has been awarded a prestigious Gold Award in the 2023 Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme – one of just 11 employers in East Anglia to win a Gold Award.

You can read more about this by clicking here.


Coffee morning success

The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund stand at the coffee morning event. Two women, one wearing a white T-shirt with the RAF Benevolent Fund logo on, the other wearing a black T-shirt with a smaller logo on, stand to the side of a table covered in a navy blue table cloth with the same logo. Information is on the table, along with pens. Behind both women is a pull-up banner with RAF branding on.

Continuing with our celebrations in Armed Forces week, another successful veterans coffee morning was held on Wednesday, 21 June, run by our Armed Forces Advocate, Chris Blyth.

Thank you to all the organisations that attended and offered support and information, and all those who helped with running the event.

We would also like to thank everyone that attended the event, and hope to see you at the next veterans coffee morning on Wednesday 13th September.

A group of six men and women at the coffee morning - three are seated and three stand behind them, with one leaning on the backs of two of the chairs. The group are outside and the yellow wall and doors to the Louise Hamilton Centre are visible behind them.

Safe garden opens

Great Yarmouth Mayor Penny Carpenter cuts a blue ribbon to mark the formal opening of the garden.  Penny wears a pink and black dress with a floral design and a pink jacket. The ribbon has been tied between two white posts, one with a bus stopp sign on, the other with a red post box mounted on it. In front of the ribbon and the posts is a small wooden bench with the slats of the seat brightly painted - one pink, one yellow and one green. Our Chief Executive Jo Segasby stands watching the ribbon cutting, along with a man in a Morgan Sindall fluorescent jacket. Part of the garden including bushes and planters are visible around the photo.

Our safe garden was formally opened on Monday 19 June by Great Yarmouth Mayor Penny Carpenter.

To read more about the opening please click here.

The remembrance bench, which is black metal with an intricate design on the back. The top reads 'Lest we forget' and has two poppies on, the middle has a cut-out design featuring six standing soldiers, three on each side of a cross, and one on horseback. This also has a plan and a poppy on it. At the bottom there are the words 'At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them'. Behind the bench 'Lest we forget' is painted on wall with two poppies, a cross and a soldier design.  A tree and bushes are visible around the bench.

Armed Forces Week 2023

Chris Blyth and a number of colleagues stand outside, near the main flagpole at the road entrance to the hospital, holding the Armed Forces Day flag, which is the top half of a red, white and blue Union Jack with Armed Forces Day in blue writing underneath, a blue line under the words and then 'Show Your Support' in red writing. The eight individuals with the flag include three nurses - one in a navy blue uniform and two in black uniforms with red belts, and four in smart civilian clothing. Chris wears his green polo top, which identifies him as our Armed Forces Advocate.  A number of green bushes and trees are visible behind the group.

This morning, Monday 19 June, we began our celebrations of Armed Forces Week by raising our flag in front of the hospital. Our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth raised the flag with some of our colleagues including those who have served.

As part of the week, our next Veterans Coffee Morning is being held on Wednesday, 21 June, and anyone who has served with any branch of our Armed Services is invited along. The coffee morning will be held in the Louise Hamilton Centre, on our hospital site, between 11am and 2pm.

The event will include tea/coffee and a buffet, and representatives from organisations that support veterans, including the Royal British Legion, RAFA, RAFB, RNA and Op Courage are also expected to attend. You’ll be able to chat to them and hear more about their work.

This coffee morning and others planned for later in the year, on Wednesday 13 September and Wednesday 15 November, have all been kindly funded by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

You can find out more about the work of our Armed Forces Advocate, including information about the support available, on our website here:

Chris attaches the Armed Forces Flag to our flagpole at the front entrance to our hospital. He is watched by the other individuals in the first photograph.

The Armed Forces flag, at the top of the flag pole, flutters in the wind. It is pictured with a bright blue sky behind it.

Work on Safe Garden gets underwayChris Blyth, wearing a white T-shirt and dark trousers, is pictured holding a shovel and moving gravel between raised flower beds in the courtyard. Plants are visible in the bed and the hospital building can be seen in the background.

Work on a new ‘Safe Garden’ has got underway in one of our hospital courtyards, with landscaping and design work in progress.

The Safe Garden project aims to create a safe open space for veteran patients and those living with dementia, autism and learning disabilities, and their families, and work has now started on the project, with our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth, Dementia Care Lead Ali Thayne and other members of our safeguarding team rolling up their sleeves to clear the area and start developing it.

The garden has been funded partly by Chris’s fundraising marathon run, which raised over £1,200, and by generous support from businesses including Morgan Sindall, who have supplied workers to help the project and funded items for the garden, and ATD (Attention to Detail) Gardening and Landscaping Services.  Melvin Hilsden from ATD is working on the wall design featuring a soldier.

Chris said the aim was to create a safe space for patients and their families so those that are able to can go outside and enjoy some fresh air during their hospital stay.

“The garden will feature a number of themed areas including one dedicated to our Armed Forces community and an interactive area for our patients with dementia, learning disabilities and autism. We’d like to thank everyone involved in the project and we look forward to officially unveiling the garden next month, once work has been completed.”

The work will include things like a bus stop, a post box, and garden beds featuring different fragrant and tactile plants.  

You can see some more photographs of the ongoing work by clicking here. 

Melvin paints the silhouette of a First World War soldier on the side of our hospital building which is a pale cream/ pink colour. The black outline shows a soldier with a back pack and rifle. Melvin stands on a blue tarpaulin with a can of black paint on. He is bent over painting in the soldier's legs.


More than £1,200 raised for safe garden project

Chris is pictured running, with the Big Ben clock tower behind him. He has his arms outstretched with palms up towards the camera as if waving. A large group of runners are visible behind him.

More than £1,200 has been raised for a safe garden project at the James Paget after our Armed Forces Advocate completed the 2023 London Marathon.

Chris Blyth competed in the event on Sunday 23 April and finished the 26-mile course in the time of 4 hours 12 minutes and 6 seconds. Through sponsorship he has raised hundreds of pounds to create a new safe garden at the hospital.

The Safe Garden project aims to create a safe open space for veteran patients and those living with dementia, autism and learning disabilities, and their families, and Chris more than doubled his initial fundraising target of £500.

Chris said; “It was a truly great experience and I really enjoyed the day – it was a privilege to take part in the event and raise money for something that will help our patients in the future.

“I was supported by my wife and son, who were able to see me at two different points, and I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported our project. All being well we will be starting work on the Safe Garden on 16th May.”


AFA works with EAAA

Chris with a representative from the East Anglian Air Ambulance stand in front of one of the their bright yellow helicopters.

Our Armed Forces Advocate has been working with the East Anglian Air Ambulance service to support them with work to become more Armed Forces community aware.

The service heard about the positive work Chris has been doing at the James Paget and the support he has been able to get many Armed Forces community people, not only in the hospital but also the local community.

The EAAA would like to be Veteran aware accredited and identify those who may need support. Chris, our Armed Forces Advocate, has been asked to advise and support where possible. While visting, Chris was given a tour of the organisation, and shown round the helicopter.


Chris's marathon run to raise funds for safe garden

Our Armed Forces Advocate Chris Blyth will be running the London Marathon in April to raise money to fund a ‘safe garden’ at our hospital.

The Safe Garden project aims to create a safe open space for veteran patients and those living with dementia, autism and learning disabilities, and their families.

Chris is aiming to raise £500 for our hospital charity to support work on the garden - which will be created in one of our courtyard areas - by running the London marathon on Sunday 23 April.

Chris said; “We want to create a safe garden area for patients and their families so those that are able to can go outside and enjoy some fresh air in a safe space. The money collected will be used to help fund the project and create themed areas, including one dedicated to our Armed Forces community and an interactive area for our patients with dementia, learning disabilities and autism.”

To support Chris’s fundraising please visit;   


Thank you to Top Body gym after £400 donation

Scott and our Armed Forces Advocate Chris stand inside the Top Body gym in Gorleston. The two men are fist bumping. Behind them is a large mural depicting a war battlefield, with cannon, and at the base of the mural a number of poppy wreaths have been laid. On either side of Scott and Chris there are various items of gym equipment, including, to the right, a number of weights on a rack.

We’d like to say a big thank you to Scott and the team at the Top Body gym in Gorleston who have handed over £400 to support the work of our Armed Forces Advocate.

In the run up to Remembrance Day in November Scott hosted a number of different events to raise money to support local veterans and he recently handed over £400 to Chris Blyth, the James Paget’s Armed Forces Advocate, to support his work with veterans at the hospital.

Scott himself is a veteran and his generosity will now help fund support for former service personnel, including another Veterans Coffee Morning event.

Chris said; “We’d like to thank Scott for his hard work and support and thank everyone who contributed to his fundraising. The money will go towards helping local veterans who visit our hospital and some will be used to support the next Veterans Coffee Morning, which will be held in the Louise Hamilton Centre in the New Year.”