Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs
1185. Dereck Hardman
Dereck Hardman, from East Yorkshire, is an Armed Forces veteran who founded a network of breakfast clubs bringing together over 27,000 veterans and service personnel across the world for peer support.
Dereck first pioneered the concept in 2007 with a group of veterans in Hull who would regularly meet up over breakfast for company and conversation. When veterans from other areas later visited the ‘Breakfast Club’ in 2014, Dereck decided to spread the concept further, recognising how the clubs could provide a sense of belonging and counter social isolation for members of the Forces community. The ‘Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs’ are free to join, providing a relaxed and safe social environment for members to meet. The network now has more than 300 clubs across the UK and worldwide, with support from the Ministry of Defence.
Dereck will be presented with his award by his local MP Graham Stuart.
In a personal letter to Dereck, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“By founding the ‘Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs’, you are helping those who, like yourself, have given so much in service to our country. Bringing together our brave veterans creates a sense of community and provides vital support for veterans’ health and wellbeing. You should feel truly proud of your work.”
Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, said:
“Dereck is a worthy recipient of the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award. The Breakfast Clubs are a wonderful initiative for veterans, giving them back a sense of belonging, which they often lose after leaving the Armed Forces.
“I saw first-hand the caring work these clubs do in helping veterans when I went along to the original ‘BBC Barker’s Breakfast Club’, now the Hull East Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club. I had a fantastic breakfast and met the inspirational men and women, veterans of all Armed Forces and their families.
“It’s a staggering achievement that Dereck has grown the Breakfast Clubs from the original one which met in a garage in Hull back in 2007 to more than 300 worldwide, with clubs across the length and breadth of the UK, all over Europe and from the USA to New Zealand. Dereck’s hard work and dedication has shown that a great idea from the East Riding can grow into something big, helping tens of thousands of veterans across the world.”
“Receiving a Points of Light award is a huge honour, and I am immensely proud to be recognised in this way by the Prime Minister.
“The Points of Light award means so much to me because it helps to highlight the Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs and the important work they do offering an opportunity for vets to stay connected to their military family. Most veterans feel they are ‘conditioned’ for service during their basic training, when they are still ‘impressionable’. Most join straight from school and so are fundamentally changed for the rest of their lives.
“When they leave, most don’t ‘return’ to civilian life, they enter civilian life for the first time. Many say, that when they walk out of the gate for the last time, they feel abandoned. Many have feelings of isolation, even though they may be surrounded by close family and friends, simply because they feel different from those around them. The Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs seek to address these issues by putting vets back in an environment they know. The Breakfast Clubs are like the Mess, the NAAFI, the Squadron/Company Bar, the Ward Room, the Cookhouse – veterans speaking the same language, with the same terms of reference of their service. We call it ‘returning to the tribe’.
“I am particularly proud that this movement was started here in Hull, and I am humbled to think that the Prime Minister has taken time to look into the work of the Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs. I hope my award inspires other veterans to come forward and set up Breakfast Clubs in their towns. I am here to help.”