A CENTRE for veterans of the armed forces and emergency services has been set up in memory of a Marine who died on a training exercise.

Woody’s Lodge, based in the grounds of HMS Cambria in Sully, has been launched to commemorate Marine and Special Boat Service member Paul Woodland from Penarth who died in 2012.

It aims to provide veterans with access to charities, advice, counselling and a place to socialise with other veterans.

It was brought to fruition by a group of local residents and led by Dr David Trotman who spearheaded the Penarth Pier Pavilion transformation.

Its motto is "giving space and time" and the idea is to have a place under one roof where veterans of any age or background from the Vale of Glamorgan or Cardiff can meet and connect with the help they require, be it social, mental or practical.

Mr Woodland's fiancée, Sian, has campaigned tirelessly in his memory since his passing, and has raised thousands of pounds for related charities.

She has been one of the driving forces behind Woody’s Lodge, alongside Russ Kitely, a RAF veteran, who has had this project as a vision for 12 years.

She said: "The last 18 months has been a whirlwind of extremely hard work, enthusiasm and dedication encompassing countless volunteer hours from the seven members of the Woody’s Lodge board.

"It has a ground breaking and visionary ethos."

Chairman of Woody’s Lodge and army veteran of 26 years, Noel Godfrey, has said: "Without the hard work of a dedicated band of veterans and civilians, men and women of all ages, and encouragement from our supporters, we could not have realised this dream.

"After 12 years in the making, we can now provide a special, unique, quiet and safe space for veterans to meet with support agencies and have the opportunity to socialise at the same time."

"This would not have been possible without the support of the staff of the Royal Navy at HMS Cambria and generosity of local businesses."

A presentation was held at The Senedd in Cardiff Bay on January 23 with speeches given in support of and explaining the purpose of the lodge by Jane Hutt AM, Carl Sargeant AM and Dr David Trotman.

Woody’s Lodge is expected to attain charity status soon and a fundraising page has been set up at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Woodyslodge.

People from all over south Wales can visit with no commitment via referral or direct contact through the website at www.woodyslodge.co.uk.