Love in the Army
The sun had just come up at the camp in Afghanistan and the lads of the unit were starting to get up to start another day in the desert. Robbo, Gary, and Harvey left the camp and headed off on patrol. Harvey was driving the vehicle. Robbo was looking out of the window when there was a huge bang and the vehicle left the road. Harvey managed to get the vehicle to a halt.
Gary looked over and saw Robbo had blood running down his face and shouted, “Harvey, Robbo is hurt!”
Harvey managed to get out of the vehicle and ran round to the back. He opened the door and saw the cut on Robbo’s head. Just then, the Taliban opened fire and Harvey and Gary were soon firing back. Robbo managed to get himself out of the vehicle and crawled to the front, and in between firing, he got to the radio. The radio wasn’t working at first but after fiddling with it for a few minutes it fired up. “Unit 2, unit 2, this is mobile 1. Assistance urgently required!!” Robbo shouted.
“Mobile 1, message received. Please confirm your message,” the message receiver replied.
Robbo picked up the radio but then felt a huge pain and collapsed onto the ground. Gary spotted Robbo and shouted, “fuck!” and tried to reach his friend.
The radio operator contacted Matt, who immediately dispatched two further units and a medical officer out.
Matt picked up the radio and said, “mobile 1, come in please, mobile 1 this is unit 2, come in please.”
Gary finally got over and picked up the radio and shouted, “unit 2, unit 2, this is mobile 1, one man down, urgent assistance required! I repeat, we are under fire and need urgent assistance!”
“Message received. Assistance already dispatched, mobile 1,” Matthew replied.
Gary then attended to Robbo, as Harvey fought the firing from the Taliban. Harvey took over looking after Robbo, and Gary started to fire his gun.
After around an hour, the lads sighed a sigh of relief, as two further mobile units arrived at the scene. Jason was among the unit and immediately headed to his mates and said, “everyone ok?”
“No mate, Robbo’s hurt,” Gary replied.
Jason checked Robbo over with the medical officer, who spotted that he had been hit by glass on his head, but then saw that he had been shot in the back.
The medical officer looked at Jason and said, “he needs to be uplifted fast, mate!” Jason walked over to the radio and shouted, “unit 2, unit 2, this is mobile 3. We need a medical uplift. One man injured with gunshot wounds to back and glass injuries to head, over.”
“Ok mobile 3, message received,” Matthew replied.
Matthew could tell by Jason’s voice that the injured was either Harvey or Robbo, as the lads were really close since the court marshal. As he had spoken to Gary on the last message call, he knew it wasn’t him.
Matthew had the helicopter scrambled to the coordinates he was given and then said, “mobile 3, this is unit 2. Medical uplift dispatched. Can you confirm who is injured, over?”
“It’s Robbo, over,” Jason replied.
“Thank you Jason, over,” Matt said.
Matt was upset that Robbo was injured. He knew that this was going to be a big blow to the unit.
Gary was now sat with Robbo, as the others fought the firing. He took hold of his friend's hand and said, “please mate, don’t give up! I love you and I can’t imagine you not being in my life! So please don’t leave me!”
Gary then heard the approaching Apache helicopter and said, “mate, here’s your lift. Now please look after yourself and I will see you soon. Ok?” Gary then kissed Robbo on the forehead and left, leaving the medical officer to get him ready for the uplift.
The Apache helicopter landed near to the unit and collected Robbo. They flew him to the hospital at Camp Bastian, where he was assessed and it was decided to airlift Robbo to the UK.
The units returned to camp later and Matt called the unit to attention. He said, “guys, we have suffered a huge blow today. And I can now confirm that Robbo has been assessed at the hospital, and it has been decided that his injuries warrant an airlift back to the UK. As a result, he is on his way to Selly Oak, as we speak. I have to let the family support unit know to inform his family at home. I know that it is going to be hard for all of us to continue on, but we have no choice but to carry on.”
Matt saw Gary was struggling and said, “Gary,” pointing toward his tent.
Gary followed Matt and Matt said, “Gary, I know this is going to be hard for you in particular, but as soon as I know more, I will keep you informed. Ok?”
“Thanks Matt,” Gary replied.
“That’s ok mate. We are a tight knit team, and I know once he gets to Selly Oak, he will be looked after well,” Matt said.
“Yeah, they are great there,” Gary replied.
“We have all suffered a great blow today mate, but you in particular, as Robbo is your best friend. So if there is anything I can do, let me know. Ok?”
“Ok, thanks Matt. I have Jason and Harvey to help me through this, so I should be ok, and I will see him soon,” Gary said.
Matt then sent the email to the family support unit, informing them of Robbo’s injuries and his airlift to the UK.
The file landed on the desk of Major Tanya Jenkins and she started to read the file. Tanya asked her assistant, private Tom Reed, to come along with her.
Tanya drove up the road towards Paula’s house. Jackie Monk had been visiting a friend who lives in the same street. She noticed the Army car pull up and stop outside Paula’s house. She watched as two Army personnel got out and headed to Paula’s door.
Paula was sat watching TV with James, and her son Joe, when there was a knock at the door. Joe stood up and said, “I’ll go,” and headed to the door. Joe opened the door and saw the two Army people standing there and said, “what’s happened?”
Paula heard her son and said, “who is it Joe?” and stopped dead when she saw the people at the door and said, “oh hell, is Robbo ok?”
“Mrs. Jamieson, may we come in please?” Tanya asked.
“Yeah. of course sorry,” Joe said.
Joe followed the two Army people into the room, and James was looking at them scared.
“Mrs. Jamieson, sorry to have to meet you like this, but your son Robert has been badly injured in an attack this morning,” Tanya said.
“Oh fuck, is he dead?” Paula said with tears rolling down her eyes.
“No, he is injured and is due to be airlifted to Selly Oak within the next few hours” Tom replied.
James let out a huge sigh of relief and said, “can we see him?”
“Absolutely. As soon as he is in the UK, we will take you to see him,” Tanya replied.
Just then, there was a knock on the door.
Tom went to the door and answered it.
Jackie said, “hi, is everything ok?”
Paula heard Jackie and got up and went to the hall and said, “Tom, let her in please.”
Tom smiled and said, “ok” and let Jackie in.
Jackie spotted that James and Joe were crying, and that Paula had been crying.
“Is Robbo ok?”Jackie asked.
“Well, he is alive but we're not sure about the extent of his injuries yet,” James said.
“I am sorry, Paula. You know where I am if you need me. We military families have to stick together,” Jackie said.
Tom smiled and said, “oh, you have family in the military as well?”
“Yeah, my son is a Lance Corporal in the same unit as Robbo, and is his best friend. So I know he will be really upset about what happened,” Jackie replied.
“Yeah, they are the terrible twins. We used to call them,” Paula said smiling.
Gavin was sat in Dean’s room at Coldbrooke, with Dean watching TV. Dean leaned over and kissed Gavin and the two lovers headed over to the bed area. Dean soon had Gavin’s top off and was running his tongue down Gavin’s body. Gavin was moaning as Dean moved down further and then started to undo Gavin’s trousers. Dean looked up at Gavin and smiled as he took out Gavin’s cock and started to run his tongue up and down the shaft. Gavin was trying to keep his moans quiet. Dean was soon sucking Gavin’s cock faster and faster. Gavin felt his cock throb and soon was sending a huge load of hot sticky cum into Dean’s mouth. Dean smiled as he swallowed as much as he could, but some was running down the side of his mouth.
Gavin pulled Dean up and kissed him and said, “wow babes, I love you so much.”
Dean laughed and said, “yeah, I love you too.”
Gavin looked at the clock and said, “shit babe, visiting time in nearly over. I will return the favour tomorrow. I promise.”
Dean laughed and said, “I will hold you to that babe.”
Gavin laughed and kissed Dean.
Gavin got dressed and Dean walked out with him.
Dean stood at the door and waved, as Gavin left Coldbrooke in his Morris minor, heading home to his new house.
Charge nurse, Rhys Taylor, was working a night shift at Selly Oak, when he was informed of incoming patients. Twenty military personnel from Afghanistan were due within the next hour. Rhys knew they didn’t have enough staff on duty to handle this amount, so he put the emergency plan into action. This requires off duty staff to come in, and his husband, Shaun, was one of the people on call tonight.
Rhys contacted the phone company and said, “good evening, this is Selly Oak hospital Army medical unit. We have a code red situation, and need all on call personnel to report within the hour. Thank you.”.
Shaun was getting ready for bed, when his mobile buzzed. Shaun picked it up and saw the message, “code red, Selly Oak hosp. All personnel to report in.”
Shaun said, “fucking great,” and grabbed his clean uniform and headed off to the hospital.
Shaun arrived at the hospital and spotted that newly qualified staff nurse, Jon Taylor, had just arrived and he shouted, “Jon wait up.”
Shaun said, “what’s going on?”
“No idea. I received the code red message, as I am on call tonight,” Jon said.
“What about Greg, isn’t he on call?” Shaun asked.
“No, lucky swine was on call up until last night, and he is off now until Wednesday,” Jon said.
“Well, let’s find out what’s going on,” Shaun said.
Shaun and Jon reported to the nurse’s desk, and Shaun was handed a red vest and told to report to Rhys. Jon was also handed a red vest and told to go and see charge nurse Taylor.
Rhys briefed all the nursing team of the incoming patients and said, “right, what we need to do is to organise into separate groups, six groups of three nurses each, headed by a charge nurse.”
Rhys handed the six charge nurses a blue vest and said, “all other nursing staff will wear the red vests.”
Shaun put on his blue vest, and made sure that Jon joined his group.
Rhys then handed the files of each patient they were to deal with, to each charge nurse.
Rhys had already read through them. He had already picked out Robbo’s for him to deal with, as he saw he was from Matt’s unit.
Soon Selly Oak hospital resembled a war zone as the patients arrived in a convoy of ambulances. The emergency plan worked great and soon all twenty patients had been assessed and their care plans decided.
Jon found it amazing how well Shaun dealt with each case. He found it hard to deal with all three cases as quickly as the other two nurses did. Shaun could tell that Jon was a bit overwhelmed. He took him to one side and said, “Jon, you're doing fine mate, so don’t worry about not being as quick as me and Helen. We have been at it a long time and we're used to it, but we both had to start somewhere. That is why I put you on my group, so you can learn from me and Helen, because all the training in the world can't prepare you for the experience on the ward, like this tonight.”
Jon was in a room with a patient and a doctor. The doctor asked Jon something, and Jon didn’t respond as quickly as the doctor expected, and he said, “come on nurse, wake up for god's sake.”
Jon did what the doctor asked and left the room in tears. Helen had heard what the doctor had said, and went into the room and stayed there until the doctor had finished with the patient. She then went outside and said, “by the way doctor, I don’t appreciate you speaking to nurses the way you spoke to Jon. He is doing his best and, considering this is his first call out duty, I think he is doing really well, unlike you on your first call out, if I remember correctly.”
Helen left the doctor standing there gobsmacked and left to look for Jon.
Jon was with a different doctor with another patient, and was dealing with what the doctor had asked. Dr Griffiths smiled and said “you ok young man?”
“Yes thanks,” Jon replied.
“Well, don’t let Doctor Harris get to you. He is always the same. He doesn’t like being called out,” Dr. Griffiths said.
“Yeah, he is a pain, to be honest,” Helen said smiling.
Rhys was in the room, when he realised he recognised Robbo as one of the lads who were at Matt’s wedding and stag do.
Rhys went over and said, “hi, Robert. You are in Selly Oak hospital and I am charge nurse Taylor. I will be your primary nurse for your stay here.”
Robbo was really quiet and then said, “I have met you somewhere before.”
“Yeah Robert, I am Captain Taylor's dad,” Rhys replied.
“Oh yeah, that’s right. I remember, he said you worked here,” Robbo replied.
“Now Robert, you will be going down shortly for an operation to remove the bullet from your back. We need to give you some drugs to put you out. When you come back, you will be under my care, ok?” Rhys said.
“Yeah thanks, and call me Robbo. Everyone else does,” Robbo replied.
Rhys smiled and said, “that’s right, I remember that from Blackpool and the wedding, mate.”
“Are my family here?” Robbo asked.
“Yes they are. Do you want to see them before you go down?” Rhys asked.
“Yes please,” Robbo replied.
Rhys replied, “Ok, I’ll go and get them for you.”
Rhys went into the waiting room and spotted several families and officers from Army family support sat there. He walked in and said, “Jamieson family?”
Paula smiled and said, “that’s us,”
Rhys walked over and sat down and said, “I am charge nurse Rhys Taylor. I am dealing with Robbo’s case. Robbo is awake and has asked to see you, but before I take you in, I must warn you he is in a lot of pain. So be aware that he might scream out. He will be going into surgery shortly, and that will hopefully relieve the pain.”
“Ok, thank you nurse Taylor,” Paula said.
“So, if you like to come with me,” Rhys said.
Paula and Joe stood up, but James stayed seated. Paula said, “come on, he will want to see you.” James said, “I don’t want to intrude. It’s a family reunion.”
Paula went to say something, but Joe said, “and you are family, so get up.”
James stood and followed behind the group, as they went into the room.
Robbo smiled and said, “hey guys.”
Paula smiled back and said, “you will do anything to get to see us wont you?”
Robbo noticed James and said, “babe, come here.”
James walked over and Robbo hugged him, but then screamed in pain.
James stood back and said, “sorry babe.”
“Hey, you didn’t hurt me. That was the Taliban, and I am determined not to let them win,” Robbo said.
Robbo then said, “you ok scamp?”
Joe laughed and said, “yeah, I am now. You are ok, but you gave us all a shock when those guys from the Army came knocking.”
Robbo said with tears in his eyes,“Yeah, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you all.”
“Hey, not to worry. The main thing is, that we as a family stick together, and that includes you, James,” Paula said.
“Ok thanks, mam Paula,” James said smiling.
Robbo laughed and said, “got him well trained.”
“Have you heard anything from Gary? The last time I saw him, they were still fighting the idiots,” Robbo asked.
“No, but Jackie called round while the Army guys were there, so she is aware that you have been injured. I am sure Gary will be ok, so don’t worry about him. Get yourself fit,” Paula replied.
“Ok mum,” Robbo said.
Just then a doctor and Rhys came in and the doctor said, “ok young man, we need to get you ready for surgery.”
“Ok doc, gives me a minute,” Robbo said.
“Ok young man,” the doctor replied.
Robbo then said, “ok, you know I love you all. I will see you all soon, ok?”
Paula walked over and kissed Robbo and said, “love you, son.”
Joe walked over and hugged his brother and Paula and Joe walked out together leaving Robbo and James together.
James walked over and kissed Robbo and said, “I love you so much.”
Robbo blushed and said, “and I love you too, babe.”
Just then the doctor came back in and said, “ok, let’s get you down to the operating theatre and get this bullet out, before it does more damage.”
A couple of hours later
The family were now sat in the surgical relatives room, when the doctor came in and said, “Mrs. Jamieson?”
“Yes doctor,” Paula replied.
“Ok, the procedure went really well and we managed to remove the bullet without it causing further damage. Luckily it missed his spinal cord and all his vital organs. There is no reason why Robert won’t make a full recovery, with the right care plan. However, at this moment he hasn’t regained consciousness,” Doctor Thomas said.
“So, when will he regain consciousness? Joe asked.
“Well, he should have regained consciousness by now, and we are really not sure why he hasn’t,” Dr Thomas said.
“Oh,” Paula said.
“Well, all we can do at the moment, is to keep him comfortable and hope he comes round, as we are at a loss why he hasn’t,” Dr Thomas said.
“So, what you are saying is, that there is no actual medical reason why he hasn’t come round?” James asked.
“Yeah, we will have to check for brain damage, but as he was talking and was ok before he went into the theatre, we are sure that isn’t the cause,” Dr. Thomas said.
“So, is he in intensive care?” Paula asked.
“Well no, he is breathing on his own, so he doesn’t really need intensive care. We have moved him to a general ward with nursing care.” Dr. Thomas said.
“Oh ok, can we see him?” James said.
“Yeah, I think that might be a good idea. Maybe hearing your voices might help him,” Dr Thomas said.
The family headed to the ward and asked at the desk which room he was in.
Staff nurse Greg Bonner was on duty and he smiled and said, “Robbo is in room 2. It’s this way,” and showed them to the room.
Greg left the family to reunite and went back to the desk.
James walked in and saw Robbo lying there looking peaceful asleep. He walked over, took hold of his hand, and kissed it. Joe and Paula sat on the other side and Paula leant over and kissed Robbo on the cheek. Joe took hold of his brother's other hand and held it.
Paula was in tears and held her sons hand.
The next morning
There was still no change in Robbo’s condition. The family and doctors were getting increasingly worried about his health.
Gary was getting more and more worried, as he hadn’t heard anything back from Matt. Matt had tried to contact the family support unit earlier, without much luck.
Major Tanya Jenkins left Selly Oak and headed back to the barracks.
She sent an email to Matt telling him about Robbo’s condition.
Gary was out on patrol with Harvey and Justin, another member of their unit, and said “you know Harvey, I am getting worried about Robbo. I thought we would have heard something by now.”
“Well. I guess as they say, no news is good news mate. Don’t worry. As soon as Matt hears anything, we know he will let you know,” Harvey said.
“I can’t help worrying mate. He has been a rock to me all these past years, and can’t imagine what I would do without him,” Gary said.
“Stop fearing the worst, mate,” Justin said.
“I know I am being pessimistic,” Gary said.
The lad’s arrived back and Gary went to find Matt.
“Still haven’t heard anything mate,” Matt said.
“I suppose no news is good news,” Gary said.
“Let’s hope so, as soon as I get any news, I will find you mate,” Matt said.
“Thanks Matt” Gary replied and left to join his mates in the mess tent.
Matthew received the email later in the day. He saw that Robbo was now in a coma. He knew this was bad, and immediately that he would need to send Gary home to be with his friend.
Matthew arranged the paperwork before telling Gary. He called his assistant Darren, to ask Gary to come to his tent.
Gary had been trying unsuccessfully, to contact his mum, to see if she had heard anything. He was coming back to his tent when Darren walked up and said, “Matt wants to see you, mate.”
Gary looked at Darren and said, “oh,ok thanks.”He was fearing the worst.
Gary arrived at the tent and said, “you wanted to see me Matt?”
Matt said, “Yeah Gary, sit down please.”
Gary looked at Matt and said, “what’s happened?”
“Well, I have had an email from the Army F.S.U. telling me that Robbo hasn’t regained consciousness from an operation. As you can understand, the family are really worried about him,” Matthew said.
Gary had tears in his eyes and said, “oh fucking hell.”
Matt said, “Well Gary, I need you to pack your stuff. I have arranged for you to go home and be with Robbo and his family.”
“Oh wow,” Gary said.
“Gary, I know you are a close friend of Robbo's, and I know you need to be there with him.”
“Thanks Matt,” Gary said.
“Now, go and get packed. The flight is in two hours, so shift it,” Matt said.
“Yes sir,” Gary said.
Gary was soon landing at RAF Brize Norton.
It was late in the day, and Gary stayed at the base overnight. Gary left the base early next morning.
Gary managed to get a train to London, and quickly changed to a train heading through Birmingham New Street.
Gary was sat watching the scenery going by, as the train guard announced, “next station stop is Birmingham new street.”
Gary grabbed his kit bag and left the train.
Gary found a taxi and headed to his house. Gary was talking to the taxi driver.
The taxi pulled outside his house.
Jackie was in her kitchen, and looked out as a taxi pulled up. Jackie gasped, as she spotted her son, Gary getting out of the car.
Jackie went over to the door, and stood there smiling.
Gary offered the driver his fare, but the guy said, “no, young man, I will not charge you.”
“Why?” Gary asked.
“Well, my son is in the Army, and I know what you guys have to do, so please take it as a freebie,” the taxi driver replied.
“Well, thank you,” Gary said shaking the drivers’ hand.
He picked up his kit bag and turned round to see his mum standing at the door.
“So, what are you doing home?” Jackie asked.
“Captain Taylor sent me home because of Robbo.”
“Yeah, he is in a bad way, son,” Jackie said.
“Yeah, I want to get to Selly Oak and see him.”
“Might be a good idea, son,” Jackie said.
Gary had a quick shower and changed out of his uniform. He borrowed his mum’s car and headed to the hospital.
Gary arrived at the hospital and went to the information desk.
“Can I help?” the young woman behind the counter said.
“Oh yes. I was wondering if you could tell me what ward a patient is in please?” Gary asked.
“Ok, so what’s the patients’ name?” the woman asked.
“Robbo, I mean Robert Jamieson,” Gary said.
“Ok,” the young woman tapped the name into the computer but nothing came up.
The young woman said,“Sorry sir, nothing has come up on the main computer. Are you sure he is in this hospital?”
“Well yeah, this is the hospital that deals with the military casualties?” Gary asked.
“Oh hold on, is he a military patient?” the young woman asked.
“Yes, why?” Gary asked.
“Well, I didn’t check the military unit. Sorry,” the young woman said.
She said,“Ok, Corporal Robert Jamieson is in ward 2, sir. That’s first floor.”
“Thank you,” Gary said.
Gary went up the stairs, instead of using the lift, as he needed time to think. He arrived at the first floor and went along the corridor and saw the sign ward 2. He walked through the door, and all of a sudden there was a gasp, and “oh my god, Gary!” as Paula ran to him.
Gary hugged Paula and said, “how is he?”
“No change. Still in a coma, like he has been for the last two days,” Paula said.
“Can I see him?” Gary asked.
“Of course you can, he is in there.”
“Thanks,” Gary said as he took a deep breath and walked through the door. He smiled when he saw James sat there holding Robbo’s hand.
James smiled and said, “hi Gary, nice to see you.
“Thanks James,” Gary said.
Gary walked over and kissed Robbo on the forehead. He took hold of his hand and then said, “you know shithead, you will do anything to skive.”
James smiled and said, “yeah, he will.”
“So how did you get to come home then?” James asked.
“Well, Captain Taylor organised it.”
“I am glad he did,” James said.
“Yeah, it is good to be home. I still remember watching Robbo collapsing,” Gary said.
“Yeah, but all he really needs is some bed rest and a course of rehab, that is if he ever wakes up,” James said with tears running down his face.
Gary stood up and went over and grabbed James and said, “you know he loves you.”
“Yeah, and I love him,” James said.
“Yeah, and he needs you to be strong.”
Robbo remained in a coma for a few days. Everyone was getting worried that he might have suffered brain damage. Gary was sat there with the family throughout.
Robbo started to wake up and smiled as he saw his sexy boyfriend, James, sitting there smiling. “Hey babe,” James said.
“Hi sexy,” Robbo said.
Paula coughed and Robbo blushed and said, “hey mum.”
“Don’t you hey mum me. You have had us worried,” Paula said.
Robbo then spotted Gary sat there and said, “fuck, what you doing here?”
Gary laughed and said, “I fly home thousands of miles and have to catch two trains, and that is the welcome I get?”
“Sorry. I am just surprised to see you, that’s all,” Robbo said.
“Captain Taylor organised me some leave.”
Robbo smiled and then said, “well I am glad to see you, mate.”
Paula then pressed for a nurse.
Greg responded to the call and walked in and smiled and said, “hello Robbo, nice to see you again.”
Greg then said, “how you feeling?”
“A bit sore, and my throat is dry,” Robbo said.
“Well that’s understandable. You have been out of it for nearly 4 days,” Greg replied.
“Wow, really?” Robbo responded.
Greg then said, “ok, let me go and call Dr. Thomas to come and see you. I will get you some ice chips for your throat.”
“Ok thanks,” Robbo replied.
Dr. Thomas assessed Robbo, and much to the relief of his family and friends, said that there wasn’t any long term worries about his health.
Dr. Thomas also discussed the physio therapy course that Robbo would have to have, and also told him that he thought that maybe it would be better for him to go to Coldbrooke Hall.
Robbo was taken aback, that he would be going into Coldbrooke as an inpatient.
Tom Rees arrived at Coninton barracks to meet up with Corporal Patrick McKenna. Tom had been in touch with Patrick, and had decided that he needed to give him the information about his half brother Dean. Tom met up with old friend, Andrew Brenton, and discussed the case before seeing Patrick.
Andrew agreed with Tom, that Patrick needed to know about this.
Patrick arrived at Major Brenton office and smiled when he saw Tom sat there.
“Come in Patrick, and have a seat,” Tom said.
“Well, Patrick, I have been going through your file and I have some information I need to tell you about your biological father,” Tom said.
“Oh, what about him? I haven’t seen him in years,” Patrick asked.
Tom asked, “Well Patrick, what do you remember about him?”
“Well, not a lot, to be honest. Umm, I haven’t seen him in years. Mum remarried and we moved away and we lost touch,” Patrick replied.
Tom asked, “What was his name?”
“His name is Andrew Alexandra. Why do you want to know that?” Patrick asked.
“Well, Patrick Andrew Alexandra remarried, and they had a son. Sadly, Andrew and his wife perished in a car crash and the son was brought up by his mum's parents. Well Dean was, until recently, in the Army and is a case I am currently dealing with,” Tom said.
“Oh wow. I have a half brother?” Patrick said.
“Yeah, it sure looks like it. So would you like to meet Dean?” Tom asked.
Patrick said,“Actually Tom, I would.”
“Ok well, we can go to Coldbrooke Hall now, if you like. Major Brenton has been briefed, so he knows what is going on,” Tom said.
Tom and Patrick left the barracks, and they arrived at Coldbrooke Hall a short time later. There was a lot of activity going on at Coldbrooke, as the Legion built the new laundry building, and Tom struggled to find a parking space.
“Wow, this place is busy,” Patrick said.
“Yeah, we are doing a refit to part of the building, which burnt down last year. That building is going to be a new laundry, to replace the original one, which caused the fire,” Tom said.
Tom noticed that Ben’s space was empty, and parked in it.
Patrick saw the sign saying, head physiotherapist, and said, “umm, I don’t think the head physio will be very happy if he or she comes in.”
Tom laughed and said, “well, unless they have called him in, I have it on good authority that he is off today.”
“Oh ok,” Patrick replied.
Tom and Patrick walked into Coldbrooke, and headed to the east wing. Tom spotted Dean sat there reading a book, and walked over to him and said, “hi, Dean. I have someone to see you.”
Dean smiled and looked up and went, “oh shit.”
“Patrick, this is Dean Alexandra, your half brother,” Tom said.
“Dean, I want you to meet Patrick McKenna,” Tom said smiling.
Dean held out his hand, and a nervous Patrick shook it. Dean then pulled Patrick into a hug and said, “wow, you look so much like dad.”
Tom smiled and said, “I am going leave you two to get to know each other for a while. I want to speak to Dr. Bonner about something.”
“Thanks Tom,” Patrick said.
Tom went off, leaving the two lads talking.
Tom knocked on Alice’s door.
“Hi Tom, what can I do for you?” Said Alice.
“Not a lot, really, just giving Patrick and Dean some time alone,” Tom said.
“Oh, who’s Patrick?” Alice asked.
“Well, he is Corporal Patrick McKenna and he is Dean Alexandra’s half brother, who he has never met,” Tom said.
“Oh wow,” Alice said.
Alice said, “I won’t be too surprised when you go back. Gavin is there with them.”
“Oh, does he come every day to see Dean then?” Tom asked.
“Yeah, well, he works here now, so he sees him all the time,” Alice said.
Tom asked, “Oh, I didn’t know he had a job here. What's he doing?”
“Well, we were having an issue with the catering company that ran the dining room for us. We terminated their contract. It worked out cheaper for us to take it in house instead and we started to recruit staff. Gavin applied for a kitchen hand job,” Alice said.
“Well that's good. I am sure he will be good at that.”
“Well the thing is, after he started to work as a kitchen hand, he started to help the cook with preparing the food. Now he is our second cook, and he is a real good cook. What we didn’t know, was that Gavin used to cook for his younger brother when their mum was in work, so he knew his way round the kitchen,” Alice said.
“No, I didn’t know that either. I knew his mum used to work, before she met her current boyfriend, but I didn’t know he had to cook for Richie,” Tom said.
Alice said, “well, he is damn good chef. He has just passed his level 1 hygiene nvq, and Julie our head cook, said the other day that she doubts the kitchens would be able to function without him.”
“Well, that’s good. I am glad he has found a job,” Tom said.
“He is a valued member of our team now.”
Tom walked into the lounge around an hour later, and spotted that Alice was right. Sitting there, in his blue uniform, was Gavin.
Tom walked over and said, “hi guys.”
Gavin smiled and said, “hi Tom, long time no see.”
Tom said, “Yeah, sorry mate. I have been really busy, and with Ben being sick as well.”
“That’s ok. Jon Dunnet has said it has been mental recently,” Gavin said.
“Sure has, with the fire here as well, we have been run off our feet,” Tom said.
“We are getting back to normal, now though here.”
“Yeah, I have heard about the new deputy chef,” Tom said smiling.
Gavin blushed and said, “yeah, I cannot believe it though, never thought I would be working in a kitchen, and definitely not in this place.”
Tom said, “Well, I have heard that the kitchen would struggle without you.”
“I am sure they would cope, and anyway, Dean Richie and I are off to Sydney in three months, for a month. So they will have to cope,” Gavin said.
Patrick smiled and said, “wow, why Sydney?”
Gavin replied, “My brother and his wife and son live over there.”
“Oh, ok so a family reunion then,” Patrick said.
“Yeah, just like today,” Dean said.
Tom then said, “well, Patrick, time we headed back mate.”
Patrick hugged Dean and said, “I will be back to see you soon, and keep in touch.”
Dean smiled and said, “I will, and you keep safe.”
Patrick smiled and said, “hey, you won’t get rid of me that easy.”
Patrick then shook Gavin’s hand and said, “look after him, wont you?”
“Don’t worry mate. I will,” Gavin said.
Tom knew that 4th company was due to redeploy, and to take over from Matt’s unit shortly. He guessed that Patrick had told Dean that.
A few days later, Patrick and his mates in 4th company, left the UK for Afghanistan.
Colonel Alex Mills was sat in his office, filling out more paperwork. Alex felt that he was sinking under the ever growing bits of paper. The more he did, the more seemed to be coming in. Alex was more of a hand on, than a hand off person. He felt more and more frustrated that he was spending time stuck in his office, than out on the ground with his fellow officers. Todd was great at doing most of the admin, but a lot of the paperwork needed Alex’s approval. Alex finally called it a day, and left his office at 8pm, and headed home to Cheedam.
Alex sat watching something on the TV, when his wife Lisa said, “you ok love, you seem very quiet tonight?”
“Yeah I am ok, but I am getting fed up with being stuck in the office doing paperwork. I want to be on the ground, not stuck filling out crap forms,” Alex said.
“Well maybe it’s time to move on babe?” Lisa replied.
“Yeah maybe you are right,” Alex said kissing Lisa.
The next morning
Tom was sat in his office, when his boss, Lady Jayne Dobson arrived at the office.
“Morning Jayne,” Tom said.
“Morning Tom. I need to speak to you,” Jayne replied.
“Come in,” Tom said.
“So what can I do for you?” Tom asked.
“Well, actually, I have to speak to you about Jon Dunnet,” Jayne said.
“Oh, what about Jon?” Tom asked.
“Well, the rbl is setting up a new unit for amputee soldiers, and we want to have a amputee ex soldier to head the unit. We are wondering if Jon would like the opportunity to run it,” Jayne said.
“Well, that’s up to Jon, but I couldn’t think of a better choice, to be honest.”
“Is he in, or is he out and about today?” Jayne asked.
“Well, he is due here for our weekly case review later today,” Tom said.
Jayne smiled and said, “ok, I will hang around and speak to him then.”
“So, will I get a replacement for Jon, if he takes the job?” Tom asked.
“Absolutely, but this new unit will still come under the control of the military support service. So officially, he will still be working under you, but he will have day to day control of the new unit,” Jayne said.
“Oh ok, that sounds ok,” Tom said.
Jon arrived at the office a short while later, and was joined by the other officers for the weekly meeting. Jayne spotted Jon and said, “Jon, can I have a quick word please?”
“Yeah no problem.”
“Take a seat for a minute Jon,” Jayne said.
“I spoke to Tom earlier. The R.B.L. have realised, recently, that we don’t necessarily give amputee soldiers the proper help they need to adjust to their new lives. As a result, the R.B.L. has decided to set up a dedicated amputee support service, which will run a separate unit, but will still be answerable to the military support service. Now, we want to get the best people we have in this unit, and we also need someone to head the unit. That is the job I want to offer you. Would that be something you would be interested in doing?”Jayne asked.
Jon was shocked and said, “wow, yes I would love to head the unit, but on one condition, that it doesn’t leave Tom and this unit short.”
“That’s not a problem. We will recruit a replacement for you in this unit,” Jayne said.
“That’s ok then,” Jon said.
“Now, how this unit will work is that all the officers who head the local units will be answerable to you, and you will be answerable to Tom,” Jayne said.
“That’s fine, and Tom is ok with this?”
“Yeah, he is and he is really happy that you have been chosen to head this unit,” Jayne said.
Jon smiled and said, “yeah, it will be strange not working alongside Tom, to be honest.”
A couple of days later
Colonel Alex Mills, and his wife Lisa, were both getting fed up with military life. Lisa has been looking at ways of getting away from the barracks life. She was looking at moving back to her native Cumbria, and maybe running a guest house or a restaurant.
Alex loved the idea and said, “let’s do it.”
Over the next few days, they trawled the internet for businesses for sale, in Cumbria, and found three potential properties. Alex and Lisa went up and visited the three. They fell in love with an old rectory, in a lake side village, which had been converted to a bed and breakfast, and also had a separate cafe, which also brought in extra income.
Alex made an offer on the property when they returned home.
Alex’s offer was accepted and he immediately put his house in Cheddam on the market.
Alex arrived at the barracks, and decided that with his new adventure all set up, it was time to do the deed and phone General Harris to resign.
“Yes, Alex?” Todd asked.
“Can you get General Harris on the phone for me please?” Alex asked.
“Of course, Alex,” Todd replied.
Todd buzzed Alex a couple of minutes later.
“Yes, Todd?” Alex asked.
“General Harris on line 1, Alex,” Todd replied.
“Thanks Todd,” Alex said.
“Good afternoon, General,” Alex said.
“Good afternoon, Alex. What can I do for you?”
“Well sir, as you know, I informed you that I was thinking of setting up my own business with my wife. Well, I have decided to go ahead and do it, sir. So therefore, I am formally tending my resignation as the head of the Army family support unit, with immediate effect,” Alex said.
“Oh ok. Well, that is a big blow for the unit, Alex. You have been a long standing officer, and on behalf of myself, I will really be sorry to see you go. Now, I know you have around three weeks leave to take, so I take it you would like to leave at the end of next week?” General Harris asked.
Alex said. “Well if I can sir, that would be good, but would I be able to start my new venture straight away or would I still be in the Army?”
“No, you will leave the Army next week, but the leave accrued would be taken into account as your notice period,” General Harris said.
“Oh ok, thank you General Harris, for all the support you have given me over the last few years,” Alex said.
“That’s ok. That’s what I am here for. Now, we need to talk replacement, any suggestions?” General Harris asked.
“Well, for me it would have to be Lt. Colonel Nicholas Green. He's been my sidekick for so long, and would be a fantastic commanding officer.”
“Ok, leave that with me. I will contact Nick and get him in for a formal interview,” General Harris said.
“Ok, well I am going to call all the unit commanders, for a meeting here tomorrow, and inform them of my decision sir,” Alex said.
“Yeah, I think it would be better coming from you, and maybe brief Nick and Philip beforehand,” General Harris said.
“Yeah, I will do sir,” Alex said.
Alex rang off and picked up the phone and rang both Nick and Philip's offices, requesting them to come to his office ASAP for a meeting.
Nicholas and Philip arrived at Alex’s office a short while later, and Nicholas said, “what’s happening?”
Todd said, “no idea, but I have been asked to come into the meeting as well.”
“Oh ok,” Philip said.
Alex smiled as Philip Nicholas and Todd came in. “Right guys, I won’t keep you long, but what I am about to tell you needs to stay within these four walls, for today, but will become general knowledge tomorrow. Ok?”
The three guys all nodded.
Alex took a deep breath and said, “right, as from next Friday, I will no longer be in command of this unit, and also I will leave the Army at the same time. It has become a frustrating job for me, and I need a new challenge. My wife and I are setting up a restaurant and guest house together. I want to thank each of you for sticking with me, and for making my job a hell of a lot easier over the last few years. Now, tomorrow afternoon I have called all the unit commanders into a meeting, where I will make it public that I am leaving, but I wanted you guys to know beforehand.”
Nicholas spoke first and said, “wow, I can’t believe you actually leaving us, but I know on behalf of all of us in this unit you, will be sorely missed. I will definitely miss you.”
Philip then said, “when I joined this unit, you and Tom both supported me when other people wrote me off, so I will miss you and I wish you luck in whatever you do in the future.”
Todd smiled and said, “I have seen two commanding officers, since joining this unit, and both have been fantastic. But I have got to know you really well, since you took over from Tom, and I will miss you.”
“Thanks guys, and I will miss you as well,” Alex replied.
The next day
Alex walked into the meeting room, at Weston barracks, and the commanders all stood.
Alex smiled and said, “at ease, ladies and gentlemen.”
Nicholas and Philip followed behind.
Alex then stood in front of the unit commanders and said, “the reason I called you all here today, is that yesterday afternoon I tendered my resignation to General Harris. I will be leaving this unit, and the Army, on Friday next week. I wanted to thank each and every one of you for all the hard work and dedication you put into this unit day in day out. I spoke to General Harris this morning, and it is with great pleasure, that I am in a position to announce, that my successor is newly promoted, Colonel Nicholas Green.”
Nicholas smiled and Philip shook his hand.
“I know Nick is the right man for the job, and I also know, with Philip alongside, that the new appointment of another Lt. Colonel shortly, he will get the support of each of you guys, just like I have over the last few years,” Alex said.
Todd was getting worried that he might be moved, as Nicholas had his own administrator, Jess, and was thinking maybe Nicholas might want to keep her. Nicholas, however, knew that Jess wasn’t a patch on Todd, and hoped he would be able to keep Todd in place.
Nicholas arrived at Alex’s office, and saw Todd filing some paperwork. He walked over and said, “Todd, can I have a quick word?”
“Sure sir,” Todd replied.
“Todd, I was wondering what you were planning to do when Alex leaves. Are you going to stay on, or are you planning a move elsewhere?” Nicholas asked.
“Well sir, to be honest, I was expecting to be moved on, as you already have an administrator, so I am surplus,” Todd said.
“Yes, I do have an administrator, and she is ok, but can I be honest? I don’t think she would be suitable to be a commanding officers administrative assistant,” Nicholas said.
“Oh ok,” Todd said.
“So Todd, I would like you to stay. Jess will remain as admin to whomever replaces me,” Nick said.
“Oh wow, yes I would like to stay,” Todd said smiling.
Alex had heard some of the conversation, and was happy, as he had worried that Todd would be moved into a less high ranking role.
Alex, like Tom did previously, have all his men and women called to the barracks, and had them out on the parade ground.
“Attention,” called out the Sergeant, as Alex, Nicholas, Philip, and newly appointed Lieutenant Colonel Jayne Thomas, walked out.
General Harris also walked out behind the group.
Alex walked over to the podium, and looked around the parade ground, and spotted his wife and children standing there. He then spotted Tom and Ben that were also there, and smiled.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been a great honour to head up this unit over the last few years. It is with a hard heart, that I announce today that as from tomorrow at 4pm, I will stand down as the unit commander of this unit. I will then, on Friday, leave the Army. When I took over the unit from my predecessor, Tom, I inherited a fantastic unit, and I want to thank my Lieutenant Colonels Nicholas Green and Philip Trent, for their huge support, and Corporal Todd Matthews, for his continued support. But most of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for all the hard work you do day in day out. I want you to know I will miss each and every one of you. Thank you guys. And now I ask your new commanding officer, Colonel Nicholas Green, to say a few words”.
Nick walked up and said, “when I joined the then Family Liaison Ops unit, Tom Rees was in charge, and Alex and I were Majors running our own units. It came as a complete shock, when the unit was re launched as the Family Support, that I would become a Lieutenant Colonel working at first alongside Alex. In the time we worked alongside each other I realised that he was an Army guy through and through, despite the fact he was injured in training. When Tom left and Alex took over, the unit carried on the same way, and me and Alex continued to support each other. I was surprised to be asked by General Harris to replace Alex, and I am dreading to step into the big shoes. Guys, I ask you to give a huge round of applause for Colonel Alex Mills”.
The whole unit clapped.
Alex then said, “thank you guys, and now I want to welcome newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel Jayne Green to the unit, and I hope you all support her as much you have Nicholas.”
Jayne walked up and smiled and said, “thank you, Colonel.”
General Harris walked up and then said, “when Alex announced to me that he was leaving this unit, I was saddened. I know that Alex was shocked, when he was offered the role when Tom Rees quit, but he has proved to be a worthy successor. I will miss our regular chats, but I also know that Nicholas will be a worthy successor. So Alex good luck, and remember you will be missed.”
Alex walked back to the podium and said,
“thank you all for the fantastic words, but remember this, I
wouldn’t be able to
do the job if it wasn’t for each and every one of you guys
behind me supporting
me. Thanks guys, and I will miss you all.” Alex and Nick walked back into the
and Alex was holding back his tears. Alex later joined Nick and Philip
officers’ mess for a farewell drink.
Alex and Nick walked back into the
and Alex was holding back his tears. Alex later joined Nick and Philip
officers’ mess for a farewell drink.
Two days later
Alex walked out of his office at Weston barracks for the last time, and shook Todd’s hand and said, “look after yourself, Todd, and thanks for everything.”
Todd smiled and said, “you too mate.”
Nicholas was standing there as he walked out. Alex smiled and said, “well mate, it’s all yours.”
Nicholas laughed and said, “thanks mate, and good luck in your new venture, mate.”
“Thanks, “Alex said.
Alex drove home.
A few days later
Alex and Lisa were busy packing up their home, as they moved to the new bigger place, where they were going to run their guest house and restaurant. They were remembering the good times they have had at the house, since buying it from Tom.
Tom had been visiting Cheedam barracks and went past and spotted the removal van parked outside his old home. He pulled up in front of the van, and got out and walked in. Lisa spotted Tom and wavedm “hi guys” Tom said smiling,
“Hi mate,” Alex said.
“So Mr. Mills, this is it then, leaving for Cumbria and leaving behind this place,” Tom said smiling.
“Yeah, time to move on mate, but you know we will never forget this place,” Alex said.
“So you managed to sell it then?” Tom asked.
“Yeah, and you know the funny thing?” Alex asked.
“What?” Tom asked.
“It’s going to stay as a military home. I sold it to Colonel Nick Green and his wife Kathryn,” Alex said.
“Oh wow,” Tom said.
“He needed a place nearer to the barracks, and this place was ideal,” Alex said.
“By the way, have you heard anything about changes taking place? I heard a few rumblings yesterday,” Tom said.
“Well nothing huge, I don’t think,” Alex said.
“Well, the Legion was a buzz of gossip about big changes coming, so I don’t know. I just hope that crap about scrapping the unit is not back on the cards, especially now that General Smith has retired,” Tom said.
“Let’s hope not,” Alex said.
“Yeah let’s hope,” Tom said.
“Anyway mate, good luck and when you got the place open, expect a visit from Ben and me,” Tom said smiling.
“Ok mate, I’ll let you know when it is open.”
Tom hugged Alex and said, “take care mate, and I will see you soon.”
Tom walked over to Lisa and gave her a kiss and said, “enjoy your new adventure, and I will see you very soon.”
“Yes, you and Ben will have to come up when we are open,” Lisa said.
“Yeah, we will. Any excuse to get away from the mad house for a few days,” Tom said.
Lisa laughed and said, “yeah.”
Tom left and headed back to his office.
Tom arrived at the office to be met by Lady Jayne.
“Hi Jayne, wasn’t expecting to see you today,” Tom said.
“No, I wasn’t supposed to be here today, but I wanted to speak to you myself, before the news breaks,” Jayne said.
“Oh, what news is this about all these rumours I have been hearing?” Tom asked.
“Well, the M.O.D has decided that they are top heavy with too many duplicated units. So they have come up with another of their hair brain ideas. They are going to merge all three support units into one, headed by one Colonel,” Jayne said.
“That would never work. That is worse than the last hair brain idea they came up with,” Tom said.
“Yeah, well General Taylor disagrees. It is his baby, and he had no qualms in telling me that if the Legion didn’t like the idea, well tough,” Jayne said.
“Oh hell, he is one of those types,” Tom said.
“Yeah, which is a shame because as much as General Smith could be a pain, this one is a prize prat,” Jayne said.
Tom laughed and said, “oh? I can’t wait to meet this idiot.”
“But that’s not all of the changes he is planning. He is planning huge changes on the way the injured troops are dealt with, and has said that he is planning to put rehabilitation service up for tender, and wants just one contractor, which is a disaster for the Legion if we lose that work. Well that would spell the end of Coldbrooke and several other sites,” Jayne said.
“Oh for god sake. We all know if it goes out for tender, it will be a cheapened service and the soldiers won’t get the best care,” Tom said.
“Yeah and haven't I have always said if it is not broken, don’t try and fix it,” Jayne said.
“Yeah exactly,” Tom said.
Tom was reeling from this news.
Later that day
Ben had just come on duty at Coldbrooke Hall, and like Tom, was shell shocked at the decision of the M.O.D. Alice had already been briefed earlier and was equally shocked. She decided she needed to inform her team, and called a staff meeting.
The whole Coldbrooke team were assembled in the dining room.
“Ladies and gents, I will keep this as brief as possible, but I need to give you some information which was briefed to me earlier by the trustees of Coldbrooke. The ministry of defence has decided to reorganise the way it deals with the rehabilitation of its injured personnel, and has a result General Taylor has decided to terminate all current contracts, and is planning on putting the whole service as a one operator contract out to tender. Now, the Legion will bid for this tender, but there is no guarantee that they will win the contract. So I need to warn you that we might lose the contract, which will result in Coldbrooke and several other sites across the UK closing. As you can imagine, the whole Royal British Legion military support services is devastated by this decision, but we need to stay positive, as we are in a good position to hopefully keep the service going,” Alice said.
Several of the staff were shaking their heads and Ben spoke up and said, “guys, we have the whole RBL behind us. Tom and his team were briefed earlier and were equally shell shocked, but we need to stay positive because we have those guys out there who need our help and support. And despite what the ministry are planning, we have to give those guys the care and support they have come to expect from us at Coldbrooke.”
The meeting ended and Ben was talking to Ryan Huggins.
“So, what do you think our chances are?” Ben asked.
“To be brutally honest, not in cats in hell chance every “care” company will be bidding, and they will undercut everyone and it will be run on a cheap budget. The care will be shit, and to be honest, if that is what the MOD wants for its injured personnel, well I will be glad to be well out of it. I will stay here till the last patient has gone, mate,” Ryan said.
“Yeah, I feel the same. Hundreds of good people chucked on the scrap heap for some big pocket company to line their profits, and not care about the patients. All they want is their pound of flesh, but like you, I am staying until the last patient has gone,” Ben said.
The Defence Secretary stood up in the House of Commons, and made his defence announcement. “Our plans for the future, with fewer troops, means we need to make cost savings in other areas. One of these areas is support units, as a result of a review, General Taylor has come up with a radical revamp of the three military support units we currently have. This will mean that we will now cut the current three units to one, and that unit will deal with all three forces family support issues. We also plan changes to the way we rehabilitate our injured military personnel. We currently have around 30 different providers of rehabilitation care. We plan to cut this to a one stop shop, with one provider dealing with day to day care of our injured, this would make huge cost savings.”
The Defence Secretary stood down.
The opposition defence spokesman stood up. “Typical torie crap! cut cut cut, that’s all they care about. Let me tell you a story, Mr. Speaker. We have heard all this before, one operator to run the service. Remember the Olympics and the fiasco over security? If it wasn’t for the military stepping in, that would be a fiasco, and this idea will be one too. One operator running the whole rehab service? Ok let’s put it this way. What happens, Mr. Speaker, if that care provider later goes bust and leaves all those injured personnel out in limbo? Well, Mr Speaker, the Defence Secretary needs to go back to the drawing board, because the people in this country care about their injured military personnel, even if this terrible government department doesn’t.”
The press went mad, and the next morning the newspapers headline read.
M.O.D cares more about money than its injured soldiers
4.500 British Legion Jobs could be lost if M.O.D goes ahead with plans
Military families call for Defence Secretary and General Taylor to go
The Defence Secretary was heckled when he made a speech at an event. Thousands of people marched through London waving banners.
Two months later
The local newspaper the post had a headline.
70 jobs to go as Rehab centre closure set to take place
70 jobs are to go at the end of next month, as the Royal British Legion closes its Coldbrooke Hall rehab centre, after losing its MOD contract. The centre is one of the best rehab centres in the UK, but has been removed from the MOD list, as they head toward the one operator contract, which has been awarded to a company called, “Tomkins Care”. Tomkins care has already said that they plan to provide less in house rehab care, and will do most of its care with the military person being at home or in local hospitals.
Gavin Robins was gutted that Coldbrooke Hall was closing. He had really enjoyed his time working in the kitchens, and now he was back to square one, jobless, but there things are slightly different from before. He had a roof over his head, and he had his partner, Dean to help him. Dean had moved into the house that Gavin’s brother, Gareth, had bought with Gavin recently. He was to receive his care at home now, and had his first session with his new counsellor yesterday. Dean didn’t like the woman’s attitude, particularly when she told Dean he needed to get over it and move on, and then said that he would receive his next session in six weeks time. Dean decided enough was enough, and called the local newspaper.
Ben was at home relaxing, and picked up the local paper and smiled when he saw the headline.
Care? What Care MOD?
“Local man calls new Rehab service Rubbish, told by so called care counsellor to get over it and move on, and then told that he should get a life. Former soldier, Dean Alexandra, recently left the soon to be closed Coldbrooke Hall centre, after being told his care had been transferred by the Army to Tomkins care. Dean was injured in a terrifying attack in Helmand 2 years ago, and had been an inpatient at Coldbrooke Hall centre. Dean was really upset and his partner, a fellow former soldier, Gavin was worried that all the good work done to help Dean with his PTSD, at Coldbrooke Hall, could have been undone by this substandard care.”
No one from the ministry of defence or Tomkins care were available for comment.
Dean also appeared on midlands tonight, and on there said he owed his life to the hard working people at Coldbrooke Hall, who have been thrown on the scrapheap by the MoD.
Dean’s story was picked up by the tabloids the next morning, and the Defence Secretary was criticised in the House of Commons by MPs of all parties.
Three weeks later
It was Coldbrooke Hall's last day of operating, and Ben, Ryan, and Alice, were all sat in the lounge looking round remembering the happy days, when Alice looked at the tv and spotted the breaking news, “Tomkins Care removed as MOD care provider, as company heads into administration,” Alice grabbed the remote as the news reader asked the Defence Secretary, “what does this mean for the one operator policy?”
“Well, just because one operator couldn’t keep up its obligation doesn’t mean the whole policy won’t work,” the Defence Secretary replied.
“Bullshit!” Ben said.
“What about the personnel that are relying on this service today, minister?” the newsreader asked.
Ben smiled, as the news reader was Henry South, an old friend whose own partner was a patient at Coldbrooke.
“Their care will be provided by emergency team,” the Defence Secretary said.
“Truth be known, minister, with recent scandals over the standard of the care given to the soldiers, isn’t it time to rethink the whole policy? Or do you think it is good that a soldier with PTSD is told by a so called carer to get over it?” Henry asked.
“Well, as I have already said, just because one operator failed in its standard of care, doesn’t mean the next will,” Defence Secretary replied.
“So, what will it take to get through to you and the government, that this policy won’t work? Maybe a soldier dying because they failed to get the care they deserve?” Henry asked.
“Go Henry! Go!” Ben shouted at the TV.
“There is no need for that. No soldier will get bad care from the new operator, who will be in place by the end of next week,” the Defence Secretary said.
“Meanwhile, thousands of jobs have been lost, due to this policy, and several soldiers have been given substandard care by the MOD approved contractor. Who, speaking for personal experience, shouldn’t be allowed to look after a dog, let along human beings, and your government thinks saving money is more important than saving lives. What a shameful state of affairs this country is in?” Henry said.
The Defence Secretary didn’t reply.
Ben looked at Ryan and said, “wow, that told him.”
Ryan laughed and said, “certainly did, wow. Did you see his face?”
Alice was smiling and said, “well, it might be too little too late for us here, but at least the soldiers will get better care than they would have if Tomkins had continued.”
“Yeah, but that wasn’t hard,” Ben said.
There was more bad press for the Defence Secretary later that day, when news broke of a female soldier suffering from PTSD, committed suicide after being told by a Tomkins care person, that she was a scrounger, and should get off her arse and go to work. The girls’ family was devastated, and called for the Defence Secretary to be fired, and this terrible policy cancelled. The soldier had been receiving care at a rehab centre before Tomkins took over.
Later that night, the Defence Secretary was on the late news, and Henry was on fire and said, “tell me minister, if your son or daughter was injured out in Afghanistan, would you have lat Tomkins care look after their care? The Defence Secretary said, “well, as they have now been removed, that is not an issue.”
“But you didn’t answer the question, if your son or daughter was out on Afghanistan and got injured, would you have let them be cared for by Tomkins care?” Henry asked.
“Well no, but that is not the issue,” the minister said.
“Oh, so you think it was ok then, for other people’s son or daughter, husband, father, to be cared for by a substandard care operator, but not yours?” Henry replied.
Henry then said, “so, minister, what have you got to say to trooper Sally Harris’s family, after Tomkins humiliated her so much, that she felt she couldn’t go on, and jumped off a bridge into a path of a speeding train?”
The minister walked out of the interview.
Henry looked into the camera and said, “well, it looks like the Defence Secretary doesn’t care at all about the soldiers his government sent out to Afghanistan, and you heard him, if his son or daughter had been injured, they would have had private care. Must be nice to be able to afford private care.”
The next day
Alice, Ryan, and Ben had been at Coldbrooke all morning, finishing packing up the last of the equipment to be shipped off elsewhere. They all walked through the now quiet halls at Coldbrooke, and headed towards the door.
“Did you see Henry last night on the late news? He told that Defence Secretary,” Ben said.
“Yeah I did, he didn’t like it, did he?” Ryan said.
“Definitely not,” Alice said.
“Well, he got what he deserved, to be honest, the pompous twit,” Ben said.
Alice laughed and said, “yeah, one big twit, to be honest.”
Alice said, “you know guys, I am going to miss this place so much.”
“Yeah, me too.We've been through a lot here over the years,” Ben said.
“Yeah, been like a second home to me,” Ryan said.
Alice locked the doors and said, “well, I need to get these keys over to Tom’s office.”
“He is not in today,” Ben said.
“Oh, why?” Alice said.
“Day off,” Ben said.
“Well, I have to give them into the office, so guys, keep in touch,” Alice said.
Alice was driving over, when the car radio news came on, “government U Turn over soldiers care,” read the headline.
The Prime Minister has announced that the one operator policy for soldiers care will be scrapped, and that the Royal British Legion will be asked to take over the care in the interim period.
Lady Jayne Dobson, from the Legion, has said that there will be no problems with giving the care. However, it might take a few weeks before full service could be up and running, as the recent centre closures would have to be reversed, and staff rehired or new ones hired.
Ben, however, hadn’t heard the news, as he was listening to a cd in the car.
Alice pulled into the car park at the HQ building, and walked in to be met by Lady Jayne.
“Hi Alice, I have been trying to contact you,” lady Jayne said.
“Oh right, well Ben Ryan and I have been closing up Coldbrooke Hall all morning,” Alice replied.
Jayne smiled and said, “well, you will need to go back and reopen the place. We are back in business, even if it is only temporary at the moment. We will have clients in Coldbrooke by the end of next week, at the earliest. Can you get the team back together by then?”
“Well, I am sure with Ben and Ryan, we can do it,” Alice said.
“You will have the help of the military support unit, as well. It will be all hands on deck to get the place up and running again,” Jayne said.
“Ok, well I guess I had better get back there, and get things moving,” Alice said.
“No, let’s go for a cuppa first,” Jayne said.
Alice smiled and said, “ok.”
Tom was sat in his snug, listening to the local radio, when the news came on.
“The headlines at midday”
Government u turn over injured soldier’s policy, and Defence Secretary has quit.
The UK government has just announced that the policy of one operator for the care of injured soldiers has been withdrawn. It was also announced, that the Defence Secretary, Alan Milford, has quit in light of his behaviour on the BBC news last night. The government spokesperson also announced that the Royal British Legion will step in, to cover the work of the failed care company, Tomkins, in the short term, and in the long term, the care will be returned to its original format.”
Ben arrived at home, and Tom met him and said, “wow, I just heard the good news babe.”
“Umm, what good news? I haven’t heard the news. I was listening to a CD in the car,” Ben said.
“A government u turn babe sounds like Coldbrooke will be reopening,” Tom said.
“Oh really, but I haven’t been told anything about that,” Ben said.
“Well, they said on the news, that the British Legion will step in and run the service in the interim. So its sounds like good news,” Tom said.
“Well, let’s hope so. I had better ring Alice, see if she has heard anything,” Ben said.
“Yeah, might be worth a try,” Tom said.
Alice and Jayne were sat in the canteen at the Legions HQ, when Alice's mobile went off.
“Sorry,” Alice said.
She pulled the phone out and saw it was Ben.
“Hi mateys, I was just about to phone you,” Alice said.
“Oh, so is it true? Are we reopening?” Ben asked.
“Yeah we are, but it might only be a temporary reprieve though.”
“Well, that’s better than nothing,” Ben said.
“Yeah, so mate, can you meet me at Coldbrooke in a hour? We need to sort out everything and start to replenish the stocks, and we need to start phoning around, and see what staff we can get back on board,” Alice said.
“Yeah, have you spoken to Ryan yet?” Ben asked.
“No, that’s my next job,” Alice said.
“Ok, well I leave that to you, and I will see you in an hour,” Ben said.
Ben rung off and said, “wow, its happening, babe. We are reopening.”
“I should bloody think so! That place shouldn’t have been closed in the first place,” Tom said.
Ben pulled up at the gates of Coldbrooke, and saw Ryan standing there smiling. Ben pulled his car over and parked behind Ryan. Ben got out and said, “can you believe this? This morning we were closing it up, and now we are reopening it.”
“I know, this government can’t make its mind up on anything,” Ryan said.
Ben smiled when he spotted the easily recognisable Morris minor pull up.
Gavin got out and said, “hi guys, so are we back in business or what?”
“Yes we are, mate. So we need you back in that kitchen, and maybe you can help us with the stock orderingm as Julie is on holiday with her daughter,” Ben said.
“Yeah, I can do that,” Gavin replied.
Alice pulled up and spotted the three men standing there talking and said, “afternoon all.”
“Hi Alice,” Ben replied.
“Gavin, nice to see you. I wasn’t expecting to see you today,” Alice said.
“Well no. I was driving past and spotted Ben and Ryan, so I stopped and they told me the good news,” Gavin said.
“Yeah well, it is a temporary reprieve. So can I take it you coming back then? Alice asked.
“You bet. I love this place,” Gavin said.
Alice said, “Good, well let’s get these gates open, and get things started. We have a hell of a lot of work to do before Monday, and the first patients arrive,”
Alice and the team couldn’t believe the support they had received, to get the place back up and running. Not only Tom and his team, but also several other volunteers came and helped, including some old faces like Maurice Baker and his husband Adam, and Lee and Diane Thomas. Lee had been particularly vocal about the changes, and had been on several of the protest marches. Newsreader Henry South, and his partner Gareth, also came to help.
The place was soon back up and running, and the first patients were starting to arrive. Among the people to return was Dean, who felt he wasn’t really ready to go home full time. Gavin knew it was for the best that Dean returned to Coldbrooke, but knew he would miss having him at home.
Gavin was really busy in the kitchens, as Julie as decided not to return. Alice decided to offer the head cook's job to Gavin.
Gavin was taken aback when he was offered the job, and immediately accepted it.
Ben had managed to get his entire team back together, and Ryan had managed to get all his team back. There was, however, a major issue. The nursing side was short, after the nursing manager had decided not to return. They were also short of about 8 nurses.
Ben was sat in Alice’s office and said, “so, what are we going to do about Karen’s job?”
“Well, we will have to advertise it,” Alice said.
“But that could take a while,” Ben said.
“Yeah, in the meantime, I will head the nursing side,” Alice said.
“Yeah, I suppose that would work,” Ben said.
An ambulance pulled up, and Ben went outside and said, “ok, who do we have?”
“Lance Corporal Robert Jamieson,” the driver replied.
“Oh yeah, Robbo,” Ben said.
Robbo was wheeled out of the ambulance and recognised the man standing there.
“Hi Robbo. I am Ben. I will be your physio while you are here,” Ben said.
“Hi, I have seen you somewhere before,” Robbo said.
“Umm, I am not sure,” Ben said.
“Are you related to Captain Taylor?” Robbo asked.
Ben smiled and said, “well, not really. But he is my husband’s adopted nephew.”
“That’s where I have met you, at Matthews wedding,” Robbo said.
“Yeah, I remember you went with my son Jon, and his partner Greg, to Blackpool for the stag as well, didn’t you?” Ben asked.
“Yeah, how is Jon doing?” Robbo said smiling.
“Yeah, he is qualified now,” Ben said.
“Well, that’s good,” Robbo said.
“Now, let’s get you settled in,” Ben said.
Robbo was soon settled in, and was feeling lost. One thing he was missing, was seeing his partner James, who he had seen daily while he was at Selly Oak. They had reconnected their love for each other whenever they saw each other.
Robbo was sat in his room watching some crap on the TV, when the door opened and in walked Gary, Jason, and Harvey. Robbo’s mood soon picked up, seeing his three mates standing there. He smiled and said, “what you guys doing here?”
Jason said, “well, we thought we would come and see our favourite Lance Corporal.”
Robbo said, “yeah right.”
“Actually, mate, I had to come and see Ben, my old physio for a check up,” Harvey said.
“Oh right, well Ben’s my physio as well,” Robbo said.
“You are in good hands there mate. He will soon have you running around the place,” Harvey said.
Robbo noticed that Gary was quiet and then said, “you ok mate?”
“Yeah, I am fine, Robbo. I am just glad you are finally getting sorted, after that idiot from that other care firm,” Gary said.
“Oh yeah, he was a prize prat,” Robbo said.
“Oh, what he say then?” Harvey said.
“Well, he was sent to assess what care I would need, and he said all I needed was two weeks of physio, and then I need fitness training to get me back fully fit,” Robbo said.
“What the hell, and they called themselves a care firm,” Harvey said.
“Yeah, but from what I have read, they have basically signed off more patients as fit, who are far from fit than they actually helped,” Jason said.
“What has Ben said about your care plan?” Gary asked.
“Well, at least a full daily session of physio, for a month, then they will reassess,” Robbo said.
“That sounds about right,” Harvey said.
“Yeah,” Gary said smiling.
“So, has James been to see you?” Harvey asked.
“Not today, yet,” Robbo said.
“Well, I am sure he will be here sometime today,” Gary replied.
“Yeah, I am sure he will,” Robbo said smiling.
Gary helped Robbo into a wheelchair, and wheeled him into the lounge, where they all sat and played a game of chess. The lads left an hour or so later, and Robbo asked them to leave him in the lounge for a while. Robbo can actually walk short distances, but if he tries to walk for a long distance, he still gets shooting pains down his spine. As a result, for the time being, Ben has advised him to use the wheelchair until his spinal cord recovers from the trauma it has suffered.
Robbo was getting hungry, and looked around the room and said to one of the other soldiers, “where do we eat?”
The young amputee soldier said, “I will show you,” and wheeled Robbo into the dining room.
Robbo smiled and said, “thanks mate, do you want to join me?”
The young man smiled and said, “yeah ok.”
Private Shane Willis had been a patient at Coldbrooke before the care scandal, and was moved out when the care was switched. He was glad to be back, to be honest, as he felt isolated at home.
Robbo chose his meal and Gavin said, “ok, take a table and I’ll bring it over for you.”
Robbo smiled and said, “ok thanks,” and wheeled himself over to a nearby table.
Shane picked his meal and joined Robbo and said, “by the way, I am Shane.”
Robbo smiled and said, “I am Robert, but my mates call me Robbo.”
“Nice to meet you, Robbo,” Shane said.
“Likewise,” Robbo said.
Gavin brought the meal over to the table and said, “enjoy your meal.”
“Thanks,” Robbo replied.
Robbo and Shane were soon engaged in conversation, and Shane told Robbo how he had come about his injuries. Robbo also explained how he had got injured, and how he hoped to return to his unit as soon as he was fit again. Shane told him that he was lucky, as he had been pensioned off, but he was determined not to give up, and had applied to work for the Legion in its military support unit amputees unit.
James arrived at Coldbrooke, a short while later, and went to the lounge and spotted Robbo sat there, talking to Shane. Robbo spotted James walking over and smiled and said, “here he is.”
James smiled and leant over and kissed Robbo and said, “hi babe.”
Robbo smiled and said, “hey sexy, meet my friend Shane.”
James smiled and said, “hi mate.”
“Hi James, Robbo said you were coming to see him,” Shane said.
“Yeah, he can’t get rid of me,” James said.
Shane laughed and said, “I doubt he wants to do that.”
Robbo smiled and said, “no, he is a keeper.”
Shane laughed and said, “well guys, I leave you to it. I have to see Ryan Huggins for a counselling session.”
“Ok mate, I will catch up with you later,” Robbo said.
“Yeah, no doubt,” Shane said smiling.
Gavin was in the office talking with Alice and Ben. They were discussing what to use the space of the old laundry area for. Gavin suggested moving the charity shop into part of it, as the current one was too small. Ben said, “that is a good idea. I have always thought that it was too small.”
Gavin then said, “I have always wondered why we don’t have a family area, where parents could take their children away from the main lounge.”
“Now, that is a good idea, Gavin,” Alice said.
“Yeah, maybe we can redevelop the remaining part of the old laundry rooms, in some form of family room, with maybe access to a private garden or something,” Ben said.
Over the next few weeks, work to revamp the former laundry area was taking a pace. The shop has already been built in the patient’s laundry room, and was now open. With two new volunteers, the shop was now going to be open longer. The remaining part of the old laundry is currently being redeveloped into four private family meeting rooms, each with access to a garden and the children’s play area, has been moved to the outside of this side of the building.
The site of the old play area has been concreted over to give more parking spaces. The new laundry building is now also fully functioning.
Robbo is getting stronger every day, and is now walking unaided. Ben is happy with his progress. The Royal British Legion also received news that Coldbrooke had retained its contract. Alice, Ben, and Ryan were really happy when the news broke.
The new family area opened a few days later, and was named the “Lee Thomas Wing,” in recognition of the huge amount of dedication given to Coldbrooke by Lee.
Lee was taken aback, when he was asked to open the new wing.
Lee and Diane arrived at Coldbrooke, and were met by Alice.
“Hi Lee, welcome back,” Alice said.
“Thank you Alice,” Lee replied.
Tom, Ben, Ryan, Gavin, Jon, Dunnet, and Lady Jayne were all present.
Lee stood in front of the crowd of people, who had gathered and said, “it was a huge surprise when I was told that the Legion had decided to name this wing here at Coldbrooke after me. This place has been a huge part of my life, over the last few years since I lost my leg in Afghanistan. It was also here at Coldbrooke, that I met the love of my life, Diane. So it will always have a place in my heart, so without further ado, It is with great pleasure, that on behalf of the Royal British Legion, that I officially open the new Lee Thomas Family wing here at Coldbrooke Hall.”
The group clapped and Lee was showed round the wing by a proud Gavin.
Later that day
Gavin and Dean walked into Deans room and smiled and said, “well babe, it has been a fantastic day, but there is one more thing i want to do. Dean looked at Gavin and went to say something, but Gavin smiled and then went down on one knee and said, “Dean Alexandra, will you marry me?”
Dean looked at Gavin and said, “oh fucking hell, yes!”
Dean pulled Gavin up and kissed him passionately. The two lads were shocked, when they heard a round of applause. They looked up to see Tom and Ben, standing there smiling. Ben walked over and said, “congratulations.”
Dean smiled and said, “thanks Ben.
Gavin said, “yeah, thanks guys.”