A Richmond based charity reached the milestone of supporting 1,000 veterans back into work this week.

The Poppy Factory, the UK’s leading employability charity for ex-service men and women with physical and mental health challenges, launched their ‘Getting You Back to Work’ programme in 2010.

The charity’s employability team connects veterans with consultants who help them identify suitable roles in their own communities and provide support throughout the application process.

Ex-Forces men and women were invited to a special reception hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House on September 5, in celebration of the milestone.

Deirdre Mills, Poppy Factory Chief Executive, said: “We cannot thank the public enough for their support in getting behind our wounded, injured and sick veterans.

“We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude and we are so proud that everyone came together to help.

“Our focus is on helping each veteran harness their own unique skills and abilities and by so doing move into long term meaningful employment.

“This means so much and will have a great impact upon their lives.”

The charity estimates there are at least 20,000 veterans of working age in the UK who have physical and mental health challenges are struggling to get back into work after leaving the Armed Forces.

Speaking about his support from The Poppy Factory, veteran Chris O’Donnell said: “I developed post-traumatic stress disorder following my time in the Royal Navy.

“The Poppy Factory helped me look for a career that would help me with my mental health.

“I can’t thank the Poppy Factory enough for the help and support they have given me.

“They opened my eyes up to what I can do and not what I can’t do.”

The figure was reached following a summer campaign urging people to post good-luck messages or write personally to veterans starting a new job.

Since Armed Forces Week in June, members of the public have shown their support by including #1000messages hashtag in social media posts and through written messages, helping The Poppy Factory’s network of employability consultants connect with more veterans with health conditions across the country.

The Poppy Factory has been employing wounded, injured and sick veterans in their factory making Remembrance products for the Poppy Appeal since 1922.