A former soldier who now rescues abducted or missing children says a Huddersfield café for veterans is absolutely essential.

Jay Jordan made a special journey up to Huddersfield from his home in Shropshire to see for himself the café that armed forces veterans regard as a very special place but is under threat due to a lack of funding.

Jay, 42, who served in the Light Infantry until 2004 and saw service in Northern Ireland and Iraq, has since been doing private security work and now specialises in rescuing children who have been abducted or have vanished.

Many have been taken overseas by a disgruntled parent who has lost custody and Jay and his team only rescue children where a court order has been made. They have even been to terrorist-controlled parts of Lebanon as well as the Ukraine, Turkey and Japan on such missions.

Jay’s company is called Pegasus Ops and he also rescues vulnerable children groomed by county lines drug dealing gangs and forced to work for them.

Jay’s time in the army and the impact that can have on veterans’ mental health means he regards Tommy’s Lounge as a vital service.

“I can’t stress how important it is to have places like Tommy’s Lounge,” he said. “When I’ve gone through dark times and been in a position where I’ve needed help I’ve just got in the car and driven with no destination in mind.

“Tommy’s is that ideal destination and it’s so important. When I go to new places I can feel anxious or nervous but as soon as I stepped into Tommy’s Lounge everyone was so friendly and welcoming. It was like being at home. You immediately feel to be part of the family.

“It’s just such a shame it’s under pressure due to funding. We need more places like Tommy’s Lounge.”

Jay, pictured above with daughter Katie, wrote in the café’s visitors’ book: “Very impressed with the friendly atmosphere, family orientated, kid friendly and the feeling of brotherhood from all that are here. I have never felt so welcome in a new place.”

When Jay goes on missions he and his team will stake out the kidnappers, plan a rescue mission and then use multiple vehicles to extract the child and get them to safety. His actions are legal and protected under a convention on child abduction laid down by The Hague which more than 100 countries have signed up to.

One mission involved getting a boy back who had vanished overseas.

His mother said: “The operation lasted a few weeks and Jay and his team had to go to several European countries, including the one where they found my son in southern Europe, and were able to apprehend him and bring him safely back home.

“Jay then arranged protection for him so this could not happen again and monitored the situation to make sure the people my son had been associating with could not infiltrate him again.”

Jay Jordan had a warm welcome in Tommy’s Lounge

Another case was a 15-year-old boy groomed by a gang in the West Midlands to sell drugs across county lines who was saved after his distraught mother turned to Jay for help.

She said: “Jay kept me sane throughout the whole ordeal. He was able to keep all parties involved extremely calm and when it came to finding my son and returning him home he was immediately on point and took control of the situation very quickly.”

She added: “Jay followed up my son’s progress, giving him a better direction, offering himself as a mentor and teaching him a better way of life.”

Tommy’s Lounge was set up in one of Huddersfield’s finest buildings on Station Street just off St George’s Square last September but was recently hit with a large power bill plus other costly overheads which has left it struggling to pay.

It means owner Jennie Thorn’s partner, former Regimental Sergeant Major Mick Riley, has to fund a large part of it from his work as a lorry driver.

Tommy’s Lounge was set up by Jennie (above), a sports therapist who had already set up Behind The Heroes community interest company in Mirfield to help former veterans, especially those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or struggling to get back into civilian life.

But she knew that veterans across Kirklees and further afield need somewhere they can meet most days and so set up Tommy’s Lounge with her mum, Sue Longbottom.

The café is just off St George’s Square just a few yards from the Harold Wilson Statue and a minute’s walk from Huddersfield Railway Station.

It’s open from 7am to 2pm Tuesday to Friday and from 10am to 3pm on Saturdays so is an ideal spot for early morning commuters to pop in for a drink or cooked breakfast. Their speciality is German Bratwurst and Currywurst as many of the veterans served in Germany.

Jennie has also set up a scheme so people can buy a veteran a drink or a meal paid for in advance and dozens have now done this.

It’s thought to be the only place of its kind in the UK but needs more support to make it viable.

A gofundme page has now been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/f/tommys-lounge to help cover its costs and get back on track.

To find out more about Tommy’s Lounge go to the website HERE or the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TommysLoungeHuddersfield?locale=ms_MY

They are also on TikTok at https://www.tiktok.com/@tommyslounge

  • Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.