Disabled workers at Leatherhead social enterprise drafted in to aid First World War campaign

A Leatherhead social enterprise which provides employment to people with disabilities has been enlisted to help with the assembly of a commemorative WW1 figurine following an overwhelming national demand for the product.

Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC), owned by military and disability charity Royal British Legion Industries, employs 30 people – more than 95% of whom have some form of physical or mental disability.

The team have been tasked with packaging Perspex ‘Tommy’ figures of a First World War soldier by its larger Kent-based headquarters following the successful February launch of There But Not There – a national campaign developed by charity remembered commemorating the centenary of The Great War.

The main Aylesford site, which employs both Armed Forces veterans and people with disabilities, originally secured the deal through a competitive tender. However, both sites will now rally together after almost 40,000 figures were sold in just two days.

Managing Director of Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company Geoff Streetley said: “The reaction to the There But Not There campaign has been nothing short of phenomenal.

“There is clearly an immense public appetite to commemorate the First World War and we are extremely proud to have both of our sites playing such an active role in that.

“Our Leatherhead team are a prime example of a section of society who unfortunately are far too often written off when it comes to employment, yet as we have seen with this project, when they are given the opportunity, they can go above and beyond to achieve fantastic results.

“That is what really drives Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company – the understanding that enterprises can be both commercially sustainable and also committed to social value.”

BBMC’s Surrey site specialises in printing, mailing and fulfilment services with customers including Mole Valley District Council, The Children’s Trust and BMW Vines.

Volunteer Andrew Middleton, who uses a wheelchair as a result of spina bifida, said: “it is a huge honour to be working on such a project.”

The 65-year-old, who continues to volunteer at the social enterprise despite retiring after many years of employments at BBMC, added: “The Tommy figures pay homage beautifully to the service personnel who gave their all.

“We can’t help but think about their sacrifices as we pack them away – it’s very moving.”

To purchase your own commemorative Tommy figurine, visit ThereButNotThere.org.uk

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