A BRAND-new care home - which will look after local veterans - has been officially opened by HRH Princess Alexandra.
The Royal Star & Garter Home, Solihull is the first of three bases due to open around the country. The £20m building has the facilities to care for up to 60 ex-Service men and women with disabilities.
Horsemen, cadets and other members of the armed forces were among those invited to Monday's opening ceremony. Also in attendance were the Mayor of Solihull and local hero Matthew Croucher.
Princess Alexandra, who is the Queen's first cousin, was taken on a tour of the facilities and met a number of residents. At the end of her visit, she unveiled a commemorative plaque.
Also visiting the home, and not for the first time, was Falklands veteran Simon Weston. The Welshman is a vice-president of the Star and Garter home and had nothing but praise for the facilities.
"The building itself is outstanding," he told the Solihull Times. "You're looking at millions of pounds worth of money and there's no doubt that it's been well spent.
As well as a cafe, library and beauty salon, the site has a wing especially for the care of residents with dementia.
"This is a home," said Simon. "That's the key. It's not somewhere people go to die, it's not a dumping ground, it's genuinely a place they can call home - their community.
"I just wish I'd realised how important veterans were when I was younger. I knew and understood a bit, but I was often wrapped up with my own life.
"When you actually talk to these residents you realise that every, single one has a story. They're funny, witty, intelligent people and that's why they deserve a place like this. And it's not just about today's heroes, tomorrow's veterans will be coming here in ten, 20, 30 years time..."
There are already 21 people living at the premises on Monkspath Hall Road.
Kelly St Claire, spokeswoman for Star and Garter, said: "This day is important about making the next step in our organisation's 90 year history. It really means something, it's not just for the ceremony and pomp."
To find out more visit www.starandgarter.org.