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Governor of Edinburgh Castle visits SVR

The Governor of Edinburgh Castle, Major-General Alastair Bruce, enjoyed a memorable visit to Whitefoord House, where he was briefed on the work of Scottish Veterans Residences, delved into the charity’s archives, and opened the site’s newly-relocated gymnasium.

The General made the short trip down the Royal Mile on Friday, 1 March, and was given an overview of SVR’s work and impact by CEO Martin Nadin and Edinburgh Residence Manager Kirsty Smeaton-Brown, learning more how we provided support and accommodation to Veterans who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or in need.

He was then invited to take a trip down memory lane by Head of External Relations Colin Leslie, who showed him newspaper cuttings of an historic moment from 1936. That was the year the post of Governor of Edinburgh Castle was reintroduced, following a gap of 60 years. A ceremony was held on the Castle Esplanade on 9 May, 1936, to mark the installation of General Sir Archibald Cameron of Lochiel as Governor, and invited guests that day included the Veterans who then lived at Whitefoord House, resplendent in the striking red overcoats they wore when the Residence was still referred to by some as the ‘Scottish Chelsea’.

Above, Whitefoord House Veterans from 1936 at the inauguration of the new Governor of Edinburgh Castle.

There have been a further 33 Castle Governors since then, notably former SVR chair Major-General Mark Strudwick (between 1997-2000) and the present incumbent of the honorary title – Major-General Alastair Bruce of Crionaich – has been in post since 2019.

It was an honour for SVR to welcome the General to Whitefoord House, and to have him officially declare our new gym open after it was relocated and modernised thanks to a generous grant from the Veterans’ Foundation, who were represented on the day by one of their Trustees, Gillian Brewer. Gillian and the General also met our Join In Live Well Officer Darren Morgan, who has been instrumental in bringing the gym project to completion.

Above, the General opens our new gym at Whitefoord House. Below, pictured with Gillian Brewer, Trustee of the Veterans' Foundation.

The General then met and chatted enthusiastically to Whitefoord residents over a buffet lunch, impressively prepared by our in-house catering team, and before leaving was presented with a keepsake to remember his visit – an SVR tie.

Reflecting on a successful visit, CEO Martin Nadin said: “General Bruce’s visit reinforced an historic link between SVR and the Governor of Edinburgh Castle. We were able to show him how effective and responsive our services are, in supporting Veterans and Merchant Mariners in need of accommodation, and in preventing homelessness. 

“Working with other charities we can maximise the impact of charitable giving and grant making; wonderfully demonstrated through the relocation and re-equipping of the Whitefoord House gymnasium, which was generously supported by the Veterans’ Foundation. General Alastair took great pleasure in formally opening it in its new location.

“I very much appreciated General Alastair’s engagement with the Whitefoord House’s Residents and staff. Eminently approachable, and practiced at making people feel at ease, he took the time to chat with as many as he could, sharing stories and experiences. The Residents thoroughly enjoyed meeting him and sharing lunch. We hope he will return for further visits.”

Above, the General shares a light-hearted moment with Veterans. Below, with Joshua and Luca from the SVR catering team.