Exmouth backed a group of women who battled the elements on Dartmoor to raise funds for a new lifeline centre at Lympstone supporting injured Royal Marines and their families.
Richard Scott and Jeff Trail, Devon County councillors representing Exmouth, praised the ‘terrific achievement’ of a 25-strong group of women taking part in the 48-hour Royal Marines Survival Ladies Weekend, raising funds for a £2.4million support hub opposite the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone (CTC).
The women, who this month handed over a cheque for £24,000 to the Royal Marines Association (RMA), were put through their paces by serving Royal Marines, working in teams, building shelters and fires to survive.
Councillor Scott and Councillor Trail backed the women’s efforts with funding some supplies, calling the challenge a ‘true community effort’.
Cllr Scott said: “All the ladies are either wives, girlfriends or daughters of serving or former Royal Marines.
“Over the weekend they were put through their paces building shelters, fires, exercising, abseiling, crossing rivers and killing live chickens to feed themselves.
“They were allowed no provision save a small tin of supplies. They barely slept and had to work in teams to survive.”
He added: “Both the weekend and the money raised are a terrific achievement.
“Jeff and I, as well as several local businesses, gave money to fund the materials needed.
“They were supported by an array of businesses for the raffle. This has been a true community effort.”
The women completed their challenge in May and last week presented a cheque for £24,000 to the Royal Marines Association.
The survival challenge was organised by Sam McMaster, Vicky Drinkwater and Anita Gilby.
Speaking before the event, Sam McMaster said the women were keen to test and challenge themselves.
“It gives us a small insight into what our husbands, sons, boyfriends and friends undertook when they were in training,” she said.
Construction work on the Royal Marines support hub, across the road from the Commando Training Centre, began in May; it is expected to open in January 2020.
The hub will be the first of its kind in the country for Royal Marines.
It will benefit more than 50,000 serving personnel and their families over the next 30 years, offering welfare support, workshops, family help and activities to serving marines and those who have been medically discharged.
Funding for the project has been secured by the RMA charity, which has raised around £1.9 million of the total funds needed.
The RMA has stressed further community funding is vital ahead of the hub’s 2020 opening.
The hub’s off-camp location has won support from Royal Marines veteran and triple amputee Mark Ormrod, from Plymouth.
He said the off-site hub was ‘hugely significant’ for anyone struggling mentally who might find it difficult to cross the boundary inside the camp, but could find support and help nearby.
Speaking in May 2019, when it was announced that hub building work had begun, Jim Morris, RMA Transition Support Officer, said: “There may be guys who feel they can’t go across the bridge into camp for whatever reason, so for them it’ll be a first stop before stepping over the threshold; a place to reminisce, build confidence; an important early step to recovery.
“Every Royal Marine will have been part of the camp across the road and done the same course to get the same beret.
“Other regiments don’t have that. We have a very close Corps family so to have our own place will be very special.”