ARMED Forces charity SSAFA hosted a fun-filled party to celebrate the upcoming birthdays of eight well-loved members of its Southend Veterans Club.

The party, held during the veterans’ regular weekly meet up, was in honour of Alfred Smith, Bernard Mabey, Stan Marsh, Chick Fowler, Dougie Shelley, Mary Baker and Alan Tibbs and was organised so they could all celebrate their special days together – with their friends at SSAFA right there alongside them.

Special guests included serving members of 617 Bomber Command, the famous Dambusters Squadron, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of Operation Chastise last week, who presented Bernard Mabey with a special signed print to honour his years of service with them.

The presence of serving members of the Royal Logistics Corps, who presented a cake to the veterans, was especially poignant for Southend veteran Alfred Smith (pictured left) who previously served with the RLC and is due to reach the grand age of 99 later this month.

Bernard Mabey (93) said: “The party was a lot of fun, and we are very grateful to Michelle and the SSAFA Southend team for organising it for us. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate amongst friends, and I loved seeing representatives from my old squadron, 617 Bomber Command, in attendance too.”

Alfred Smith (98) added: “I thoroughly enjoy attending the SSAFA Southend Veterans Club every week. It’s a great place to meet up with friends. It was quite overwhelming that the team decided to organise a birthday party for us all. It was a very enjoyable afternoon and brilliant to see members of the Royal Logistics Corps. It was a pleasure to mix with some new people and chat to them for the afternoon – we were very grateful that they chose to come along and celebrate with us.”

Click here for more information on the SSAFA Southend Veterans Club.

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