Ex-army site managers install Tommy figures in show home gardens across Devon

Picture by Jim Wileman – 05/05/2021. Former Royal Marine Chris Spencer, and former soldier Ben Trussler, installing the Tommy figure at the Barratt David Wilson site, in Tiverton Devon.

More than a dozen commemorative Tommy figures were installed in Barratt David Wilson Homes show home gardens across Devon in honour of VE Day.

The leading housebuilder is the first corporate patron of the new Tommy Club, a fundraising initiative launched by the Royal British Legion Industries charity (RBLI) to raise money to support armed forces veterans.

Site manager and ex Royal Engineer Chris Spencer says: “It’s a great honour to install the figure in their show home garden and in dozens of others across Devon and the South West.”

Chris served for 11 years in the Royal Engineer’s Counter IED taskforce, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He began working for Barratt Homes five years ago under the company’s Armed Forces Transition Programme.

Chris was joined by assistant site manager Ben Trussler, who served for 20 years in the Royal Engineers, completing tours in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barratt Homes has donated £100,000 to the Tommy Club and purchased 300 full size Tommy figures to show their support for the charity. The Tommy Club is a membership organisation with all money raised going to help veterans of all ages to gain independence and overcome challenges including mental and physical disability.

Chris Spencer says: “It’s a real honour to be able to put the Tommy figure in pride of place in our show home garden at Braid Park [Tiverton] and to see them going into our developments across Devon and the South West.

‘I’ve been very fortunate to start a new career with Barratt Developments after leaving the army five years ago, but it’s not always an easy transition for everyone. The RBLI does fantastic work improving the lives of people who have given so much and we’re proud to be able to support their work.”

The term Tommy was coined during WWI when German soldiers would call out to ‘Tommy’ across ‘no man’s land’ if they wanted to speak to a British soldier. The Tommy figure, with head bowed, has become a universal symbol of gratitude and commemoration to all those who served in the armed forces.
Each garden Tommy is put together by veterans working for the RBLI’s unique social enterprise, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, which creates more jobs for ex-armed forces personnel and raises crucial funds for the charity. The RBLI has been providing jobs, homes, and mental health support for ex services personnel throughout the worst of the current pandemic.

Nicki Reid, sales director at Barratt David Wilson Homes Exeter said: “We’re incredibly proud to be the first corporate sponsor of the Tommy Club. We have been really moved and impressed by the amazing work the RBLI does supporting ex-services personnel and their families.

‘This is a cause we know is important to lots of our staff, many of whom have proud military careers themselves, and to our home buyers.

‘These impressive Tommy figures will not only act as a reminder of the debt of gratitude we owe to our veterans, but also highlight the great work the charity does.”

Author: Ben Fox

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