Today the Gordon Messenger Centre (GMC) has been officially opened by the Patron of RMA – The Royal Marines Charity, General Sir Gordon Messenger KCB DSO* OBE DL.
This state of the art community facility is a new £2.4 million centre for the entire Royal Marines Family, situated just outside CTCRM. The centre will support serving Royal Marines, veterans and their families through various events, activities, and meetings.
While there are other similar Armed Forces centres around the country, this is the first of its kind for Britain’s Royal Marines, for which Devon is a heartland. It is set to benefit more than 50,000 serving personnel and their families over the next 30 years.
The pressures upon service families are increasingly widely recognised; better support is crucial to ensure that the correct care is available to our Royal Marines and their families. Demands for accessible resources to combat mental ill-health and stress are increasing. Additional practical resources were needed to support the entire Royal Marines Family.
Following an initial statement of requirement from CTCRM in 2014, which arose from the families based there, a Navy-led Community Needs Analysis confirmed that a facility was needed at Commando Training Centre, the home of the Royal Marines. RMA – The Royal Marines Charity embarked on a project to build a versatile Royal Marines Resilience Centre to meet the requirement.
The construction of the Gordon Messenger Centre is by far the biggest project the Charity has ever undertaken.
The Royal Marines Resilience Centre concept was simple; to build a venue that could host a diverse range of support services, accessible to all, in one location. The centre will provide an open location to regularly meet other people “in the same boat”, to share problems and solutions, with access to a wide range of bespoke support.
Despite the challenges of Covid to the construction project, the Charity handed over the Gordon Messenger Centre at CTCRM to the Corps in December 2020. Jonathan Ball, Chief Executive of RMA – The Royal Marines Charity, commented:
“The Gordon Messenger Centre will provide a safe space for building mental resilience in the Corps family and provide a range of facilities for every part of the Royal Marines family. It will be a one-stop shop that epitomises what the Charity is about: comradeship, compassion, collaboration and commemoration. We haven’t had anywhere we can focus on all these things until now.”
Without the support of dedicated fundraisers and partner organisations, this day that would not have been possible. The landmark project has cost £2.8M (build cost £2.4M), of which £1.7M has been donated or raised, and the remaining £1.1M coming from RMA – The Royal Marines Charity.
The Charity is extremely grateful to all who have supported the project through fundraising, including the CTC Families Support Network, the RM Survival Wives and the West Country 100 business network, who have been wonderful in raising tens of thousands of pounds. We are extremely grateful also to major donors, including Mrs Lisa Ronson, The Mrs Nancy Warren Charitable Trust, The Gosling Foundation, The Royal British Legion, The Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, The Swire Charitable Trust, The Naval Children’s Charity and Mundy Group. The Charity also benefitted from a grant of almost £600K from HM Treasury LIBOR Fines Fund which got the project underway, and a number of legacies which we have applied to this project.
The design of the Centre was based on the input of a CTC community working group, while a number of companies and individuals delivered the project, with Midas Construction Ltd as the main contractors. It boasts a conference hall which can be subdivided, meeting rooms, café area, seating area, communication booths, creche and outdoor play area.
Jonathan Ball concluded:
“CTCRM is at the heart of the Royal Marines Corps; the journey of every Royal Marine starts at Lympstone and they will all return here throughout their careers, with many choosing to live locally, so they will easily be able to access the Centre and its activities.”
The Centre has been named after the Patron of the Charity, General Sir Gordon Messenger KCB DSO* OBE DL since he has been the most successful RM officer of the modern era, his own service epitomising the resilience we seek to build.
The Centre Manager Gaby Wright is now building a volunteer group to assist with the hosting of activities and is holding a registration morning on Monday 11 October. Please drop in or contact her by email firstname.lastname@example.org . She is inviting members of the Corps Family to a curry lunch housewarming (£5 donation including beer or soft drink) on Friday 22 October from 12-1400. To find out more please join the GMC Facebook page “Friends of the GMC”.