They are completely FREE.
No ‘dress code’.
No subs or joining fees.
All any veteran or service personnel will ever have to pay for is their own breakfast, and even then, clubs tend to ensure that the cost of breakfast for WWII veterans, and those who are suffering hardship, is taken care of.
I am Dereck J. Hardman, email@example.com, former soldier, and founder of the Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs network, an organisation run by Armed Forces Personnel & Veterans, for veterans and serving members of H.M. forces, which began here in my home town of Kingston-Upon-Hull, East Yorkshire.
We have a few fundamental principles designed to protect members (based on our National Constitution), but generally, clubs tailor themselves to suit their own demographic. Each club has its own team of admins, and we have a team of ‘National Administrators’ supporting them, providing them with information beneficial to members and clubs.
The National, trademarked logo is designed to give the Armed Forces & Veteran’s Breakfast Clubs organisation a national identity; it signposts the clubs affiliated to the national network with all the benefits that this affords, enabling veterans to locate & identify legitimate ‘Armed Forces & Veteran’s Breakfast Clubs’.
Involvement ends isolation, giving veterans particularly a sense of belonging, which many of us lost when we left our respective services, and those attending AFVBC’s are stronger together, because we have ‘returned to the tribe’!
The network is not affiliated to any charities, because veterans should not be put off thinking they may be shamed or brow-beaten into standing in a supermarket with a collection bucket, and instead, AFVBC’s should increasingly represent the ‘customer base’ for the 3000+ military charities.
The original concept came about in 2007 when I took a ‘project’ vehicle to a motor engineer here in Hull, an ex REME veteran called Peter Barker. Over the following months, Pete’s former comrades would drop by every so often for a brew, which was enormous fun, and got me thinking. I hit upon the idea of inviting other local veterans I would meet randomly to join us at Pete’s garage for some banter, a ‘brew’ and a ‘butty’.
It wasn’t long before there were a group of veterans meeting every Saturday morning, and they all just kept coming back! One day I suggested we should call it a ‘Breakfast Club’ and thought it would be amusing to call it the ‘BBC’ (‘Barker’s Breakfast Club’)… and the first Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club was born.
When veterans from other areas visited in 2014, telling me it was a wonderful idea, we decided to take it further afield. The Breakfast Clubs proliferated at an astonishing rate, and spread into Europe and further. The uptake has been phenomenal, both here and overseas (Germany, France, Spain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Australia and more), with more an average of more than one a week starting since then.
We have seen first-hand the huge positive impact the Breakfast Clubs are having on the lives of so many veterans and their families. It is truly staggering, and it has driven us to work very hard on them since this began. The mutual support they afford, and the connections they are making, even outside of the clubs is incredible.