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11 February 2010, 13:27 | Updated: 11 February 2010, 13:32
The head of the Army announced today a new centre for injured servicemen and women will open in Colchester next year.
General Sir David Richards, Chief of the General Staff, announced the Army Recovery Capability, a new process to improve the level of support for sick, wounded and injured personnel. One of the cornerstones is the construction of new Personnel Recovery Centres, the first of which will be built at Colchester Garrison.
The facility will be built on a vacant plot of MOD land on Berechurch Road, between the Corporal Bryan Budd VC Gymnasium and the Garrison Medical Centre.
The centre will have room for up to 20 full-time residents and 40 day visitors. It will also have two family en suite rooms, each catering for two adults and up to three children. The building costs of the centre will be funded by Help for Heroes and run jointly by The Royal British Legion and the Army.
Colonel Tom Fleetwood, Commander of Colchester Garrison, said: "As one of the largest Garrisons in the country with more than 3300 troops, and the home of 16 Air Assault Brigade, it is entirely appropriate that Colchester has been chosen as the first location for one of the new Personnel Recovery Centres.
"This will be an extremely valuable facility for both the soldiers based here and those from across the Army. Over the next year we will be working closely with Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion to design and build the best possible facility for our sick and wounded servicemen and women.
"This centre, when complete, will provide an environment in which our soldiers can recover either returning to duty or leaving the Army and returning to civilian life with the appropriate support and skills.
"We are in the process of appointing a project manager for the Centre and the design process will commence in earnest later this month.
"As with any project of this size and nature it is likely to be a lengthy process incorporating the design, planning and construction phases. However, it is our aspiration to have the Centre fully operational by 2011."
Marianne West, the Help for Heroes Volunteer County Co-ordinator for Essex, said: "I am overjoyed at hearing the announcement that the Personnel Recovery Centre project has at last been given the go-ahead. Ever since first learning of the plans for these centres more than a year ago, when they were aptly described as "Launch Pads for Life", I have been longing for the action to start because they will provide a facility for the wounded to learn new skills for their future, whether continuing in the Services or returning to civilian life. It will be just marvellous actually to see the proof of the public's generosity taking shape before our eyes in Colchester."
Hear more on this story on Heart this afternoon.