Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Brown sauce and the thin red line

By Angus Crawford
BBC News

Duane Telfer
Duane Telfer is one of the veterans helping to create the sauces

A group of homeless ex-soldiers has come up with a way to help other veterans - with a range of sauces which they are selling to the public.

They are part of a scheme to help ex-military who fall on hard times by training them how to run a cafe.

It is more than 30 years since Bob Barrett left the Army. He had a successful business, but it failed and he become homeless.

With the help of the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation charity, he got back on his feet. Now he is determined to help other veterans.

"It's pretty much like being in a troop, you help your mates out," he said.

Together with the foundation, he set up the Pryors Bank cafe in Fulham, south-west London.

With support from the Royal British Legion, it takes on veterans who have fallen on hard times.

It finds them accommodation, trains them in catering and helps them to get a job.

"If we give our guys hope, they'll respond," he said.

Hard to cope

Now he has also created Forces Sauces, making brown sauce, horseradish, mustard and other flavours.

The profits from each pot go to help other former members of the military.

Duane Telfer is a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was shot and injured.

"I was on patrol, came under fire, I got struck and reality kicked in," he said. "It's not a game."

He was medically discharged, but found civilian life hard to cope with.

He said: "I hit a bit of depression, breakdown of family, being homeless, nowhere to go."

But he came across the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation and now has somewhere to live and he is learning a trade. He is also making gallons of red onion marmalade.

Bigger plans

So far they have sold the sauces in Christmas markets and church sales, and all 700 bottles in their first batch have gone.

The money raised will go to the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation and the Royal British Legion.

And Mr Barrett insists he has bigger plans for the product.

"We're just setting up to go online now, and during the the spring we may be able to start hitting some major department stores," he said.

Mr Telfer just hopes what they are doing sends a message to those still on the front line.

He said: "It's giving back and helping other ex-servicemen. It's a wonderful idea and means a lot to me."

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