Published Tuesday, 8th November 2022
By Helen Aitchison
Today was the official launch of the Veterans' Voices anthology book. This is a collection of stories documenting 22 local heroes, spanning over 70 years of conflict, with service people aged between 31 – 94 years old.
All service people featured are from or live in the North East and have told their journey of life before, during and after the military. As well as the trauma and horror of war, the books highlights bravery, camaraderie and the determination of human spirit. With themes of loss, friendship, love and resilience, Veterans' Voices shares anecdotes, challenges and celebrations that we can all identify with, whether we have been in the military or not.
Veterans' Voices was created through Write on the Tyne, a community interest company which aims to make creative writing and expression inclusive to all. Focusing on a range of group teaching, mentoring and working with community groups to create and publish commissioned pieces, Write on the Tyne is led by local author, Helen Aitchison.
All participants in the book access Operation Veteran, a community interest company in North Shields. Operation Veteran supports veterans and their families across the North East and commissioned Write on the Tyne through funding received from The National Lottery, Queen's Jubilee Fund via The Business Factory.
Jim, the director at Operation Veteran said, "This has been a wonderful thing to do. Some of these folk have never spoken about their military life. It has gave them a voice and will help other people understand."
The stories were created through interviews with all participants. Helen Aitchison, from Write on the Tyne said, "I've worked in health and social care for 20 years before setting up my business. I was thrown in at the deep end with this commission. However, it's been amazing and one of the best things I have done in my career. Each story is so different. They all have humorous and heart-breaking elements. It's been an absolute honour to document their lives and now they will live on forever, their legacy, in print."
The launch was held at Newcastle City Library, who kindly donated the room, refreshments and their time to support the day.
Following a slideshow, featuring the participants Veterans' Voices - YouTube. Some of those featured in the book shared snippet of their time in the forces. The moving stories provided an emotional education for the audience, with feedback including:
"You never know the detail of war, but today I've learnt the fear of war and also the importance of friendship in the darkest times. These people are heroes."
"They are the bravest people in the world."
"This needs to be in schools. Everyone, everywhere should know about these amazing people."
Veterans' Voices is available in e-book and paperback from www.books2read.com/veteransvoices and from www.helenaitchisonwrites.com and www.writeonthetyne.com as well as Operation Veteran coffee shop, Nile Street, North Shields.
All profits from the book go back to Write on the Tyne and Operation Veteran. These organisations are not for profit and therefore the funds go back into supporting the aims of the services, in their local communities.