Bernard lends a hand to help heroes live at home
A SWANSEA man is devoting his time to helping a group of heroes who served their Queen and country.
Bernard Winkley has spent the last two years putting up shelves, building sheds, changing light bulbs and fixing broken taps for former members of the Army, Navy and the RAF, along with widows and their families.
The 52-year-old senior fitter, from Upper Gendros Crescent, Gendros, works with The Royal British Legion's Poppy Calls service.
The trusted service is aimed at helping members of the Armed Forces community live independently in their own homes for longer in old age.
Mr Winkley heads up the service right across Wales along with the South West of England.
He said: "I make sure every day that the beneficiaries of the scheme are safe in their homes. We can provide steel hand rails to help them to go out and also build ramps.
"One day I could be putting up shelves and curtain rails and the next fitting smoke alarms and building a shed.
"If the tap is dripping we fix them — we even change light bulbs.
"We also put security chains on the front door."
He added: "I never feel better than when I'm fixing something, and the work the Poppy Calls service does means members of the Armed Forces community can live more independently for longer.
"It's a very satisfying line of work to be in."
Mr Winkley said lots of those who he goes to help love the opportunity to have a chat as the work is carried out.
"I go to do work for some people who do not have any relatives," he added.
"A lot of them would enjoy having a chat as I'm carrying out the work."
He added: "There's a lot of ex-service people who do not know that the service exists."
The Legion's National Poppy Calls manager, Russell Rolph, said scores of former service personnel UK-wide benefit through the service.
Mr Rolph added: "Over nine million people in the UK can call on the Legion's support.
"Some of these people can find it difficult to keep up home maintenance over time or find they need adaptations following injury or illness to maintain the lifestyle they once did in their own homes, and that's when Poppy Calls steps in."
Figures for 2012 show Legion fitters helped more than 5,000 people across the country.
Anyone who wants to find out more about the service should contact 0800 032 0306.