The Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE, was a special guest of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) last month.

The Member of Parliament for South Staffordshire met staff from the charity alongside guests from Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) and the Portsmouth City Council.

Mr Williamson’s visit to Portsmouth coincided with the announcement that HMS Queen Elizabeth will soon travel on its first major overseas deployment to New York. As the aircraft carrier’s affiliated charity, the RNRMC will play a role in supporting the sailors on board, many of whom will be deployed for up to 9 months at a time.

The Secretary of State visited HMS Excellent to hear about the work undertaken by the RNRMC and the essential support offered to Naval Veterans by VOS.

Veterans Outreach Support is a local armed forces charity and beneficiary of the RNRMC, who provide a monthly drop-in facility for ex-service people and their direct family members.

In a presentation, Nigel Turner, a former Royal Navy sailor who has been helped by VOS, explained how the charity saved his life:

“I have a mental illness and Veterans Outreach Support saved my life. They care, they listen, and they act. Within 30 minutes of walking through the doors, I was processed, assessed, looked after and had seen a psychiatrist.”

Since VOS, I have got the pride back in my career and I’m now a proud veteran. I have nothing but praise for this positive, progressive organisation.”

Last year, the RNRMC recognised the vital work undertaken by VOS having delivered a grant of £25,000 to help them support 280 of their beneficiaries. From life-changing grants during times of immediate need to smaller deployment grants that aide morale and retention - the RNRMC works hard to ensure that no one in the fleet is forgotten; regardless of rate, rank or specialism.

Speaking about the Secretary of State for Defence’s visit, Chief Executive of the RNRMC, Robert Robson OBE, said:

“We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to our home and to give him the opportunity to hear Nigel Turner’s extraordinary testimony about the help he received from a local Portsmouth charity, Veterans Outreach Support.

“The RNRMC, the Navy’s charity, supports over 30 frontline charities each year, all of which provide unique and valuable help to our community. We firmly believe that one person joins up but the whole family serves, and I hope the Secretary of State’s visit to the RNRMC gave him a flavour of the extraordinary range of work that military charities do with our beneficiaries.”