Legends of stage and sport were among the high-profile supporters revealed yesterday at a special briefing to announce a new fundraising campaign at the Orthopaedic Hospital.

Invited guests were at the Oswestry-based hospital to hear about plans to raise an initial £1 million to build a dedicated Veterans Orthopaedic Centre that will be the first of its kind in the UK.

And the campaign has got off to a terrific start with the unveiling of five patrons who are lending their name to the scheme.

They include Dame Vera Lynn, the Second World War forces sweetheart, who remains a passionate supporter of the Armed Forces to this day.

From the world of sport, double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes - who served in the army for 10 years before her athletics career took off - has also signalled her support. Holmes was victorious in the 800m and 1,500m at the Athens Games of 2004.

She is joined by Garry Herbert MBE, a rowing cox who won gold at Barcelona in 1992 when he steered the British coaxed pair to victory.

The line-up is completed by two distinguished military men - Brigadier Kevin Beaton OBE, one of the army’s most senior medics, and Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Ian Sawers, who is one of Shropshire’s Deputy Lieutenants.

Dame Vera said: “I am delighted to support the Veterans Project at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic hospital in Oswestry.

“We owe veterans a great debt of gratitude, and I was encouraged to hear about the hospital’s work treating more than 1,000 patients with knee and hip problems as it means we are doing our duty to care for them after they have done so much for us.

“I wish them continued success with the project, and I am greatly pleased to be a patron of this worthy cause moving forward.”

The Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre is fronted by Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon based at RJAH, who is also a serving officer in the British army.

Lt Col Meyer established veterans clinics at the hospital several years ago, and this fundraising project will allow him to fulfil a dream of operating out of a dedicated centre providing a full range of orthopaedic care to veterans and serving military personnel in an environment that is familiar to them and addresses their specific needs.

Fundraising is being supported by the Orthopaedic Institute, a charity based at RJAH and which supports research and teaching through voluntary contributions, and the League of Friends to RJAH.

Lt Col Meyer said: “There is no doubt that, as a country, we provide world class care to acutely injured service men and women – but on leaving the services there is no specific provision for them. I’ve felt for a long time that we should be doing more for veterans.

“It is very important to veterans that they are seen somewhere that is familiar to them, and where they feel welcome.

“Up until now that has been lacking across the whole NHS, but it is something we want to address with this service providing specialist orthopaedic care to our veterans and our serving military personnel. It’s been a long time coming, but veterans deserve this sort of service.”

Mark Brandreth, chief executive at RJAH, added: “This £1 million fundraising campaign will support phase one of this project. Over time we have big ambitions for the service.

“There has been a lot of talk about care for veterans in the UK, but not enough work done. We’re very proud of Carl for his drive and determination and for the work that has got us to this point.”

To donate to the appeal, please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/RJAHVeteransCentre