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Posted - 22nd September 23

Aspire Defence Supports the Opening of the Mercury Centre

In a ceremony held on Wednesday, 6th September 2023, the Mercury Centre, a newly refurbished Joint Royal Signals Welfare Centre in Perham Down, was officially opened by Commander HQ South West, Colonel McDade.

The event marked a momentous occasion in the community and was attended by several distinguished guests, including TidnBul Garrison Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ru Whitelegge, SCOTS, TidnBul Garrison Sargent Major, WO1 Clarke, and Archdeacon of Sarum, Alan Jeans MBE, amongst others.

The ceremony was not only an opportunity for the Commander to inaugurate the newly refurbished building but also a chance to meet the individuals involved in its transformation, and whose support and donations help to make it a reality. Special recognition was given to the hardworking Service Personnel in the Welfare Team, as well as the Service Personnel and their families who will benefit from the facility.

In his address appreciating the collaborative effort and donations that supported the completion of the refurbishment, Commander HQ South West, Colonel McDade said,

“It’s an honour to be here at the official opening of the Mercury Centre. Spaces like this are crucial to the Army community, it serves as a vital community and wellbeing area that supports the Soldiers’ Lived Experience.”

In addition to working with key subcontractors to ensure a smooth refurbishment process, Aspire Defence also donated four new benches to the centre. ADSL Managing Director, Mark Carr, and Capital Projects Director, Richard Tindal were also in attendance, alongside Chief Executive of Aspire Defence Limited, Allan Thomson.

Mr Thomson said, “This facility will be a cornerstone of support for our Royal Signals service personnel and their families. We are proud to contribute to the continued success of this essential community asset.”

The Mercury Centre aspires to become the central hub for the Royal Signals and Queen’s Gurkha Signals community within the Perham Down area. This opening event hopes to serve as recognition of the dedication and effort invested in repurposing this building into a vital community resource.

Unit Welfare Officer, WO2 S. Prince, who coordinated the opening event, said,

“I’m immensely proud to have played a role in bringing this project to fruition and witnessing the positive impact it will have on our community.”

The Mercury Centre has a varied history. Built prior to World War 2, in its early years it served as a Medical Centre, providing essential care to the community. More recently, it functioned as a nursery, undergoing several minor renovations over the last five years, including the conversion of existing toilets to accommodate small children and the addition of a cabin at the rear as a sleep and play area while a new nursery in Tidworth was being completed.

When the building stopped being used as a nursery, the Garrison made the strategic decision to repurpose the space to provide much needed welfare facilities for the recently arrived Royal Signals units. Part of this involved turning the infant toilets back into adult WC facilities, alongside making additional alterations needed to transform the space into a suitable welfare centre. This included the installation of new fire doors and fencing, and the transfer of the cabin from the building’s rear to Aldershot, where it is now being used as office space for a unit that was temporarily housed in a garage.

The successful refurbishment of the Mercury Centre stands as a testament to the excellent collaboration between Aspire Defence Services Limited (ADSL), the Army, and key subcontractors. Rather than demolishing the building, this concerted effort has breathed new life into it, extending its lifespan by several more years and granting it yet another purpose. This achievement adds to the long and proud history of the building’s usefulness to the Army community in Perham Down, Tidworth, ensuring it remains a vital asset for many years to come.

Commander HQ South West, Colonel McDade with Unit Welfare Officer, WO2 S. Prince (left) and the rest of the Welfare Team

From L to R – Chief Executive of Aspire Defence Limited, Allan Thomson; ADSL Capital Projects Director, Richard Tindal; TidnBul Garrison Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ru Whitelegge, SCOTS, Commander HQ South West, Colonel McDade; and ADSL Managing Director, Mark Carr.

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