Preston's Models for Heroes club suspends meetings due to Omicron threat

A Preston model making club for veterans which relaunched early in December has had to shut its doors.

By Fiona Finch
Friday, 31st December 2021, 4:55 am
Organiser Sam Markland pictured outside the modelling club's new venue at Broughton         Photo: Neil Cross
Organiser Sam Markland pictured outside the modelling club's new venue at Broughton Photo: Neil Cross

But organiser Sam Markland has pledged the closure, caused by the latest Omicron surge in the pandemic, will only be temporary.

The club, for ex-veterans and retired members of blue light services, (fire brigade, police and ambulance and other NHS emergency service workers), used to meet at the now closed RAF Association Wings Centre on Fishergate, Preston.

It was set up primarily to help those suffering with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or service related stress conditions.

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Sam pictured inside the club's new venue Photo: Neil Cross

Sam, a retired family liaison officer with the motorway police and a keen model maker, had been a key organiser of the informal drop-in monthly sessions, which attracted veterans from across the region and beyond.

He was determined to relaunch the sessions which ran with the assistance of volunteers from the Lancashire branch of the International Plastic Modellers’ Society(IPMS).

On December 1 the inaugural meeting of the new group was held at the recently opened Toll Bar Cottage Cafe / meeting rooms at Broughton, near Preston. This is a new community venue, created by Broughton Parish Council in the former Toll Bar Cottage at 478 Garstang Road, near Broughton crossroads.

Sam said: "We got three veterans to the frrst meeting and the Lancashire County Concil's Armed Forces Champion County Coun Alf Clempson turned up and had a chat with us. We've had good general feedback. We were made most welcome and looked after and there are other rooms if we need to expand."

Sam Markland pictured with a model aircraft Photo: Neil Cross

He continued: "We've taken the decision to postpone doing any more until things are a little more safe. We've just got to hope this Omicron variant goes as fast it arrived and we're not left with a six month gap between getting our inaugural meeting and getting going again. The second meeting was going to be on January 5 and meetings are always going to be on the first Wednesday of the month. Until further notice we can't go ahead."

However Sam stressed if anyone is interested in attending they should contact him on 01772 463911 or by email at [email protected] and if they share their contact details he will let them know when the sessions are due to re-start.

Sam said that while model making is therapeutic the club is about much more than that. He said: "The modelling itself isn't the primary reason we started it. It's something to do, something you can share with somebody else. It's the fact you're actually out doing something You're not sitting in your flat or whatever wondering what the world is doing.. You can meet other people who can understand if you've a problem or meet like minded people - for example you might just want to talk to people who've been to Afghhanistan and know what it's like."

For our report on the reopening of the model making club see here For our feature on the club sessions at the WINGS centre and how they help veterans see here* The Lancashire Post is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here.