Eric Greenleaf, Royal Marines 1934 – 60
Born on Plymouth’s Barbican in 1920, Eric joined the Royal Marines Band at just 14. He served on HMS Cumberland, first in the South Atlantic, witnessing the demise of the Graf Spee, and then in 17 Arctic convoys between Scotland and Murmansk, enduring attacks by enemy aircraft, surface raiders and submarines as well as the bitter fury of North Atlantic winter storms.
Later, Eric served in the Far East until Japan capitulated in September 1945, and then in the Korean War from 1950–53. He retired from the Navy in 1960.
A widower, Eric now lives in sheltered accommodation just yards from where he grew up on the Barbican. He is best pals with fellow resident and former Royal Navy chef, Dave McDonald, the only other military veteran living there.
Says Eric: “Our time in the Forces means we really understand each other. Although we’re different ages, we’ve shared some similar experiences and that makes a difference.
“But not everyone is as lucky as us and I think the idea of the Equinox Centre is one of the best I’ve ever heard. A mini ‘Chelsea Hospital’ is what Plymouth needs to nurture its veterans and the involvement of the medical students would be fantastic. Friendship is one of the best things in life and age should be no barrier.”
Captain Ailsa Wright RAMC graduated from the Peninsula School of Medicine on a British Army Medical Cadetship in 2015.
Says Ailsa: “The Equinox Centre is a great example of the School’s innovative approach, which promotes lateral thinking and holistic healthcare from the outset of our studies."
"The Centre will give students a fantastic opportunity to gain understanding of a group of people they wouldn’t ordinarily meet, and to build bonds with them. They’ll get to know the veterans as people, gain insight into their backgrounds and see that they were young once, too!"
"This experience will be invaluable for future practice. It will help ensure doctors are more aware of the difficulties older people face and better equipped to provide the best possible care. It’s about so much more than career development though – I’m sure many of these friendships will last well beyond the student years.”