Simon Weston OBE was guest of honour at a business event at Rochdale Town Hall last week attended by over 300 guests comprising businesses, veterans, cadets and community representatives.
The Falklands veteran, author and charity supporter talked candidly about his life story – from the devastating injuries he sustained when his ship, HMS SIR GALAHAD was attacked, to his subsequent life as a public figure and motivational speaker.
The event was held to encourage businesses in the borough to sign up to the Corporate Covenant – a voluntary pledge from organisations who wish to demonstrate their support for the Armed Forces community.
Councillor Alan McCarthy, Lead Member for the Armed Forces said:
“Simon’s story was inspirational and he is a perfect example of someone who has gone on to achieve amazing things even though there were significant obstacles in the way. He is such an enthusiastic and engaging speaker and he really inspired our guests. He is also a great role model for the young people who attended the event, as he is proof that anything is possible whatever life throws at you.”
Acting Chief Executive Linda Fisher said:
“We really want to encourage local businesses to sign up to the Borough’s Corporate Covenant. It’s important we show businesses what a good opportunity this could be for them. Businesses can offer to pledge as little or as much as they wish, from supporting Armed Forces Day, to providing discounts for our Armed Forces and their families. Former Armed Forces personnel have transferrable skills and we would like businesses to pledge to support them into local employment. A key message we want to get across is that businesses in Rochdale can make a difference by supporting our Armed Forces and equally the Armed Forces can make a difference to the businesses in Rochdale as excellent employees. Having Simon Weston OBE support our work means so much.”
Simon said he was impressed with Rochdale’s commitment to the Armed Forces:
“Former Armed Forces personnel can make great employees and can really help your business. The work being done here in Rochdale to support them is commendable and something that other authorities are adopting as best practice. I am pleased to see so many business people here tonight and I urge them to sign up to Rochdale’s Corporate Covenant. Having previously visited Rochdale I was pleased to see all the regeneration taking place in the town, you can really see the positive difference it is making.”
Simon’s visit was during a week of events in the borough to mark the build up to national Armed Forces Day (Saturday 28 June).
On Monday, Armed Forces Day flags were raised in Littleborough, Heywood, Milnrow, Middleton and Rochdale. Crowds comprising local school children, veterans and civic dignitaries took part.
Brigadier Chris Coles, Commander 42 (North West) Brigade, opened the evening and said it was an opportunity to recognise the work Rochdale has done:
“There has been a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication backed up by practical improvements in support of our Armed Forces.”
The council signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in 2012 – a statement of support between a civilian community and its Armed Forces community. But actions speak much louder, and Rochdale has been nationally recognised by the Ministry of Defence, Royal British Legion and others for introducing pioneering changes to better support armed forces personnel and their families back into civilian life.