New £31,000 education space opens at Colchester Garrison

A PROJECT to create a space for soldiers to study and relax in while learning in Colchester has been officially opened.

The Poppy Suite, at 18 Army Education Centre, in the Colchester Garrison, was opened on Friday, October 28.

The £31,000 project to create the area was funded by The Royal British Legion and marks the start of the 2016 Poppy Appeal in Essex.

The suite was officially opened by Lieutenant Colonel Ciaran Griffin, Commander of the Colchester Garrison, and Kate Green, the Legion’s East Anglia and Essex area manager.

The area includes comfortable seating, a refreshment area, TV screens and a mural painted by art students from Colchester Institute combining poppies and parachutes to reflect the character of the town’s 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Lt Col Griffin said: “As Garrison Commander it is my aim to make Colchester the most attractive posting in the British Army with the best facilities for our personnel.

“We are hugely grateful to the Legion for their support and talented artists from Colchester Institute, which has turned a facility that was fir for purpose but sterile into a comfortable space that will inspire our soldiers to learn.

“The Poppy Appeal is a cause that is close to the heart of all in the military and I encourage all to be generous in their support of the Legion’s excellent work with the Armed Forces community in its entirety.”

Kate Green said: “The Poppy Appeal serves to support the Armed Forces community past and present and we are delighted to have awarded a grant to 18 AEC to develop the Poppy Suite.

“This year’s appeal urges everyone to rethink Remembrance. Although we will never forget the Second World War generation there are younger veterans who need our help too.”

The Poppy Suite was created after the centre’s library was moved into the existing common room. It will be used for informal study between lessons, as well as briefings and seminars.

Major Joe Walker, Commanding Officer of 18 AEC, said: “This centre is the flagship for Army education and provides great facilities for our officers and soldiers to learn in, but I wanted to bring a bit more life and colour into the building. “Working with the Legion to create Poppy Suite has enabled us to turn a well-resourced but functional place into an environment that is more comfortable and conductive to learning.”