Couple behind King's Lynn charity Bridge for Heroes honoured in Queen's Birthday Honours
The husband-and-wife team, Mike and Helen Taylor, who were behind establishing the Lynn-based Bridge For Heroes Armed Forces charity have both been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list by being made MBEs.
It was more than 10 years ago that, on moving to West Norfolk to be closer to Helen’s family, Mike and Helen saw the need for a charity in the area specifically to support the Armed Forces community to which they have devoted their lives ever since.
Mike had served in the Army for 18 years and saw operational service on in both the Gulf and Bosnia.
With the intensity of operations at the time in Afghanistan and many service and ex-service men and women suffering from the effects of PTSD both Mike and Helen recognised the need for a charity specifically to support those struggling with life and went about setting up the Bridge for Heroes, using all of their savings in doing so.
From those small beginnings the charity grew both in terms of the numbers being supported but also in experiences in dealing with the multitude of issues individuals were facing, these ranging from problems with mental health to homelessness.
A contact centre was set up and is now located in South Clough Lane, Lynn, where individuals in need of help can visit and meet the small cadre of full-time staff, who are supported by a large contingent of volunteers able to provide a wide range of services.
The contact centre which was originally set up as a drop-in centre also allows individuals to meet with their peers and share experiences.
With the onset of the pandemic last year and the imposition of lockdown, it was quickly identified by Mike and Helen that the Centre would have to move towards providing out-reach support. Leaning on experience learnt while in the Army in working in a biologically contaminated environment, Mike went about ensuring staff were trained in infection control and prevention and equipped with the appropriate levels of PPE enabling them to visit beneficiaries in their homes safe from Covid.
Mike and Helen were both overwhelmed on hearing the news of the honour.
Helen said: “It has all very much been a team effort of many people over the years. Although I do not feel deserving of any award, I am honoured to be nominated for such a special award and will humbly accept it on behalf of our great charity team and it will only make me strive to continue to be of service to my community (not just the Armed Forces Community) in any way I can.”