Hundreds flocked to the official opening of a new coffee shop in Sutton that is also a hub for armed forces veterans.

Pipers, drummers, bikers and representatives of the Army and the King mingled with veterans and members of the public for the ceremony at Spectre Coffee on Low Street in the town centre on Saturday morning.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” beamed shop manager Andy Jones. “It couldn’t have gone any better.

“We had about 300 people there. They were queueing out of the door to get in.

“Since we opened, we have been very busy. There has been a steady stream of people, including veterans, who say the place is absolutely marvellous for Sutton”

The opening ceremony was performed by Lieutenant Colonel Keith Spiers, of Sutton, whose illustrious career in the Army has included leading an infantry regiment in Iraq. He was awarded the OBE last year for his work with the Army’s community engagement team, based in Nottingham.

Two pipers and a drummer from the Pleasley-based Seaforth Highlanders band played at the ceremony, while motorcycling members of the Royal British Legion’s Riders branch revved their bikes as Spectre opened its doors.

Other VIP guests included Ashfield’s Conservative MP Lee Anderson, who is a big friend of manager Andy, and businessman Mark Goldby, who is a deputy lieutenant to the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, Sir John Peace, the King’s representative in the county.

Also there to meet and greet the shop’s first customers was former soldier Andy Brewster, of Pinxton, who served in Afghanistan and who is the brains behind Spectre.

Andy runs Unique Positive Solutions (UPS), a telecommunications firm that provides work as engineers for ex-servicemen and women when they leave the armed forces.

UPS has proved a lifeline for many who have found the transition from a military environment to civilian life a daunting experience. They might have few vocational qualifications, and some have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The coffee shop will operate as a normal business, open to all. But it is also a place where veterans can pop in for a chat and advice about career opportunities.

Andy added: “They can enjoy free tea and coffee in relaxed surroundings, and meet new friends.

“A large percentage of the shop’s proceeds will be pumped back into help for the veterans.”

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