A veterans’ charity’s first Scottish café hub has started brewing up a storm in the famous Borders town of Hawick…

It’s run by FirstLight Trust which helps former members of the armed forces and emergency services who may be struggling and aims to be a welcoming spot for the public and veterans alike.

The FirstLight café hub’s official opening was attended last week by local councillor and Hawick Provost Watson McAteer, MP John Lamont, charity trustee Lady Jane Grosvenor and veterans.

“Civvy Street can be a lonely place for ex-military and people who’ve worked in the police, fire and ambulance services,” says Dorinda Wolfe Murray, founder of FirstLight Trust. “Our café hubs are designed to be a friendly spot to enjoy a chance to meet up and chat whilst enjoying coffee and cake.”

The café bar, Sharpe’s, sits within the FirstLight hub on Hawick High Street. It takes its name from the soldier played on TV by Sean Bean. It offers a range of coffee roasts from the Baytown Coffee Company, specialist Tea Pig blends and delicious treats including scones. Borders Council gave a grant towards the coffee machine and white goods.

The charity plan to use the café hub as a base from which to run modules to help ex-military and blue light veterans get back on their feet. Hawick follows in the footsteps of five English café hubs and more are planned for Scotland.

“Given how welcoming the local community have been, it was an honour to use the local Hawick Tartan ribbon in our official opening ceremony,” says Dorinda. “Roddy the piper began the celebrations and then Busker’s Bunnet Folk Band performed ‘Where the Blood Red Poppies Grow’, written and sung by veteran Tam Knox.

“They’re generously donating all proceeds of their CD on sale at the hub to us. Our motto is ‘Have a treat, help a veteran’ and now that extends to music lovers too!”