The Veterans Garage, based at Barton Airport in Eccles will see the £1.6 million restoration of the UK’s first ever airport terminal which is being transformed into a hub for veterans, emergency service personnel and the community.
The first stage – the conversion of a portacabin into a comfortable lounge serving refreshments from 9am to 6pm seven days a week - will be opened by the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, Councillor Peter Connor.
Project manager Dan Redshaw and his father David launched the Veterans Garage scheme after his brother Jayson struggled to cope with the aftermath of service in Afghanistan with the Royal Engineers where his close friend Sapper Elijah Bond was killed in an IED attack.
The family share a love of all things automotive – from classic and supercars to motorcycles and scooters – and thought a car and motorcycle restoration centre run by and for veterans could help them combat post-traumatic stress disorder, make new friends and integrate with the local community through a shared interest.
“I noticed a big change in Jayson mentally when he came back from Afghanistan so my dad and I started this for him. We’ve been given the airport terminal building which we want to restore in 1930’s Art Deco style and we’ve had amazing support from companies and the community. We’ve had about £600,000 worth of in kind support, from scaffolding to skips and have an amazing team of design and construction professionals all donating their time for free.
“We wanted to get something up and running on site as soon as possible so converting the first floor of the portacabins housing the heliport office into a lounge where anyone can drop in seemed like a good idea. It’s a modern, cool, vibrant space which younger veterans particularly like and we can offer everything from a cup of tea to counselling from it.”
Dan says the Veterans Garage is also his way of saying thank you to Jayson who gave him one of his kidneys.
“I had a heart transplant when I was 11 and the drugs I’ve had to take sent me into end stage renal failure. Jayson donated a kidney so this is my way of thanking him for my new lease of life,” said Dan who worked in the construction industry for 15 years.