Remembrance 2016: Why Lowestoft’s Victoria Schofield fights for our veterans
- Credit: Nick Butcher
As someone who was born at an RAF base and saw her father serve in the Falklands during a 24-year career, Lowestoft resident Victoria Schofield said: 'The armed forces has always been in my blood.'
So when a holiday centre in Lowestoft offering low-cost holidays by the sea to veterans ran into trouble, it was only natural that she helped safeguard its future for the next generation of soldiers.
The Lord Kitchener Memorial Holiday Centre was set up in 1919 in memory of the Great War leader to provide a place
for ex-servicemen returning
from the horrors of conflict to relax.
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Despite a brief break to serve as a treatment centre during the Second World
War while Lowestoft was under constant attack, it has given former soldiers much-needed holidays in the one of the most beautiful parts of the world that they otherwise couldn't afford, by offering them at a cheaper price.
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But in recent years the Grade II Listed Building in Kirkley Cliff Road, Lowestoft has struggled to cope with cheaper holidays and more modern hotels – particularly when the old fabric of the building means it costs £3,000 per month to run.
As regional manager for cottages.com, Miss Schofield put her tourism and marketing skills into practice in an appeal with the fitting battle cry: 'Kitchener's needs you!'
Within a few weeks she had helped to raise the £10,000 needed to keep it going at the start of 2016, with the extra publicity generated by the campaign helping to improve visitor numbers throughout the year.
But the 30-year-old, who was born at RAF Halton before moving with her parents to the holiday memorial centre when she was 16, hasn't stopped there.
She joined forces with Neil Ovenden to once again organise this year's Armed Forces Day commemorations in June, which attracted hundreds of people to Lowestoft's Royal Green to see what is great about our military.
Yet a modest Miss Schofield, who grew up at Kitchener's hearing veterans' stories of sacrifice, said the time she gives is nothing compared to the sacrifice of those who risk their lives.
'When you join the forces, you're saying you will fight for Queen and country and put your life on the line,' she said.
'We wouldn't have the freedom to put on displays like that without that sacrifice. I think it's a way of saying thank you and educating other young people about the forces.
'The freedom that you have to choose not be involved in something like this is exactly why you should be.
'We have the freedom to be who we want to be and we don't have that freedom by chance – we've got it because people have fought for that.
'It means giving up a small amount of time each month is totally worth it.
'It's pride mostly – pride for our town and ex-servicemen and women.'