Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Monday, 17 August 2009 11:33 UK

Home for injured soldiers opens

Major Jim Paton describes what the facility offers

The UK's first Army recovery centre for injured and unwell soldiers has opened in Edinburgh.

The £8.6m convalescing centre is a special 12-bed facility for soldiers at the Erskine Edinburgh Home.

It will cater for soldiers who have been injured on duty and are not well enough to go back to their unit straight away.

The centre is part of a pilot scheme which will be rolled out across the UK if it proves successful.

The facility is being seen as a stepping stone where injured soldiers can get treatment, work towards getting promotion or move on to civilian life.

Maj Jim Panton, chief executive of Erskine's Edinburgh Home, said it was a "momentous" achievement.

He said: "The Army Recovery Centre will provide the final recovery and rehabilitation care required for 12 injured soldiers at a time.

"Being at the forefront of care provisions through the launch of the pilot Army Recovery Centre is testament to the dedication and service provided by Erskine over the years, and we are delighted to be working together with Help for Heroes and the Army to provide this much-needed service."

Roadside bomb

The Army said soldiers could be out of action for 12 months while they recovered at the home, adding that it was often difficult for them to integrate back into army life at their unit.

The centre was officially opened by L/Cpl Robert Reid, of the Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, who was left blind in one eye following a roadside bomb attack in southern Iraq last year.

Army head opens soldier recovery centre

Gen Sir Richard Dannett, head of the British army, also attended the ceremony, along with the first 12 people to use the facility.

He said: "I know that our men and women on the front line already have enormous faith in the skills and capability of our medical and rehabilitation services - this scheme will enable a smooth transition back to duty or to civilian life for those who have suffered appalling injury in service of their country.

"We look forward to seeing this pathfinder scheme informing the development of this capability across the country."

The centre has been named the Mark Wright House in honour of Cpl Mark Wright GC, who was killed in Helmand Province in 2006 when a routine patrol encountered an unmarked minefield.

He was posthumously awarded the George Cross in recognition of the courage he displayed during the incident.

The new facility has been created by a partnership with the Army, Erskine and the Help for Heroes campaign, which provided the funding for the centre.

Erskine has offered nursing and medical care for former members of the Armed Forces since 1916, and the Help for Heroes charity was set up to help provide better facilities for wounded British servicemen and women.

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