Homes for ex-armed forces set for Lothian

Ex-soldier Darren Muirhead. Picture: Jon Savage
Ex-soldier Darren Muirhead. Picture: Jon Savage
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HOMES for ex-servicemen and women discharged from the army on medical grounds are set to be built in the Lothians.

Midlothian Council has agreed to support a project by the charity Homes for Heroes Scotland, which could see eight specially-adapted properties built on the site of the old Pentland House in Penicuik.

The independent charity was founded in 1915 to provide housing for injured military service personnel who need housing when they are ­discharged.

The charity hopes to build in Penicuik because of its strong military links with Glencorse Barracks.

If the project goes ahead, the council would gift the land, or offer it to the charity on a peppercorn rent, build the homes to the charity’s specification and sell them to the charity at a discounted price.

Houses for Heroes chairman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Callander said: “It’s very good news and we’re absolutely delighted.

“There’s a particular need for these homes in Midlothian. We did a survey a couple of years ago and the county came out as a hotspot.

“At this point, we have 350 veterans from across Scotland on our waiting list.

“There’s always more that can be done to support ex-servicemen. These proud guys have been soldiers and they do not necessarily want any support.

“We provide them with the means to continue to support themselves and their families.”

Officers will now work with the charity to establish more details about the suitability of the site and the costs involved.

Council leader Bob Constable said: “This project would be a great opportunity to support those who have risked their lives for all of us.

“We are keen to support the move and we are looking forward to more information about how best we can work with the Houses for Heroes charity.”

The demand for housing has remained relatively constant, but the average age of personnel is lower because of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Case study: Life after the frontline

Darren Muirhead, 29, knows how easy it is to fall on hard times.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guard, who was once stationed at Basra Airport, struggled to find a home after a car accident in Germany saw him discharged from the army on medical grounds. He said: “I suffered brain damage and short term memory loss. I couldn’t return to the frontline. But Homes for Heroes Scotland have been my saviour and now I have my own place in Longniddry, I’ve got access to my daughter and I’ve started up my own plastering business.”