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Award for breakfast clubs’ founder

Graham Stuart (third from right) presents Dereck Hardman with his Points of Light award. Also pictured (from left): Cllr David Elvidge, Simon Bailey, who runs the Beverley Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club, Cllr Kerri Harold and Cllr Paul Nickerson

The Prime Minister has recognised Dereck Hardman, from Beverley and Holderness, with a Points of Light Award for providing peer support for veterans and members of the Armed Forces, with his award presented by his MP Graham Stuart on Saturday 1 June.

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, was presented with a Points of Life award by local MP Graham Stuart in a ceremony at The Angel Inn in Beverley on Saturday. 

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 and since then the network has grown to more than 300 clubs across the UK and worldwide, including one in Beverley. 

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.”

The Points of Light award recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

Mr Stuart 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.

“It was fitting that the award took place at the Beverley Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club where Dereck was with his armed forces “family”. Dereck is clearly held in the highest regard as the Breakfast Club was packed with veterans who’d come from all over to congratulate him.

“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.

Dereck told us: “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.”