Pub champions Armed Services veterans group at St George’s celebration

Veterans in Crisis Sunderland were supported by The Jacksons pub at its St George's Day party. Middle is charity founder Ger Fowler.
Veterans in Crisis Sunderland were supported by The Jacksons pub at its St George's Day party. Middle is charity founder Ger Fowler.

A Sunderland pub flew the flag for Armed Services veterans by supporting a charity through its St George’s Day celebrations.

The Jacksons, in Lower Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, hosted its annual party in recognition of the nation’s patron saint.

Being ex-services myself, I know about the problems people can face.

Ger Fowler

This year, the chosen fund was Veterans in Crisis Sunderland (VICS), which works to help those struggling after leaving the forces.

An auction and raffle and a sale of items will help the community interest company continue its work across the city.

The organisation was founded five years ago by Ger Fowler, 48, from Southwick, who served in The Light Infantry for five years as a private.

He said: “I’m very proud and it’s great thing to do because everybody celebrates St Patrick’s Day so it’s good to see people doing the same for St George’s Day.

“But The Jacksons have been doing this for a few years and it’s a great community pub, they’re always raising money for charity and it just so happens that this time it’s mine.

“It’s great fun and always has a great atmosphere.

“Sunderland is so good to its vets.

“It has the largest vets community in England with 26,500 vets and we have the second biggest Remembrance Day outside of London.

“They play a massive part in our community and that’s why we’ve been getting involved in the Fans’ Museum, to get them out, get them involved in helping and to give their self esteem a boost and tackle some of that social isolation.”

Wendy Purnel, the bar’s under manager, said: “These people have been fighting for our country and it shouldn’t be the case that we have to raise money for them or they are being made homeless, they should be helped by the country.

“But we definitely support our veterans and we’re proud to be doing this for them.”

Ger has been offered help from Sunderland City Council, which has provided him access to a space in the civic centre so veterans can access his help.

He also hosts a Tuesday drop in session at the Fans’ Museum in North Bridge Street to give those in need a place to find support.

He added: “It’s grown massively and since January, I’ve had 45 clients.

“They have drug or alcohol issues, mental illnesses and homelessness, and it’s not just that, but there’s so much social isolation.

“A lot go from being surrounded by people everyday to being on their own.

“Being ex-services myself, I know about the problems people can face.”

The organisation has its own Facebook page and its Tuesdays sessions at the museum are held 10am to 1pm.