Naval veterans’ group saved as tennis offers new venue

Members of the Cromer and district branch of the Royal British Legion, from left Martin Wood, chairm

Members of the Cromer and district branch of the Royal British Legion, from left Martin Wood, chairman Philip Dudley, Brian Bayley, secretary Janet Mills, Anne Mann and Dr John Mills. Picture: Stuart Anderson - Credit: Archant

A tennis club has ridden to the rescue of a group of Royal Navy veterans, who found themselves without a place to meet after the pub they formerly gathered at closed down.

Cromer Tennis Club offered a meeting place for the Cromer and district branch of the Royal Naval Association following an appeal made in this newspaper.

Branch member and forces bishop Dr John Mills said he was delighted the veterans could continue to meet close to where many of them were based.

Dr Mills said: 'They have offered it to us for free to the veterans which we thank them for very much.

'It has access for wheelchairs. We're all over the moon about it because it allows us to stay in Cromer, which is where we have been based since 1965.'

The association, which has almost 20 members, is the only one of its kind in north Norfolk.

Members normally meet every second month, and they plan to wait before they have their first meeting at the tennis club.

MORE: Navy veterans in 'desperate' search for new homeDr Mills said: 'We are a bit concerned about the coronavirus so we'll wait and see how that develops.

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'So our next meeting will be on May 1.'

Members of the branch have served in just about every international conflict the Royal Navy has been involved in since the Second World War.

They used to meet at the Cottage pub in Louden Road, but that venue closed in June last year and was sold at auction for £378,500 - with planning permission to covert it into flats.

Dr Mills said the association helped to found, and helps to run, the Wells Sea Cadet unit T.S. Eliza Adams, in 2017.

He said the group, which has about 45 cadets aged 10-18, was thriving, and more adult volunteers were needed.

Dr Mills said: 'We're at the stage now where we won't be able to take on any more cadets unless we have more adult support.'

Anyone interested in helping out with the sea cadets group can email petty officer Maria Somerton

The association also runs an armed forces breakfast club at Cromer's Breakers cafe on the second Sunday of each month from 10am.