Two friends have raised money to help a veterans’ café in Huddersfield by taking part in a pancake race.

Mark Johnson and Dale Abbott travelled to Lichfield in Staffordshire to take part in its famous annual event and raised just over £200 through sponsorship for Tommy’s Lounge in Huddersfield town centre.

The race involved tossing the pancake before setting off on a 50-metre run and doing another full toss halfway through.

There were heats and then a final but Mark, of Thurstonland, and Dale, of Newsome, didn’t quite make it to the final.

Mark, 42, said: “It’s a very well established event in Lichfield and some of those taking part take it very seriously. It’s clear they had been training hard for it.”

Tommy’s Lounge was set up by Jennie Thorn and her mum, Sue Longbottom, in one of Huddersfield’s finest buildings on Station Street just off St George’s Square in September 2021 and is a vital lifeline to former forces personnel.

Jennie, a sports therapist who has helped amputees and people with severe injuries learn to have confidence in themselves again, 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 Sue. Both have worked in catering for many years and the lounge serves food and drinks but no alcohol.

Dale Abbott taking part in the pancake race

The café, thought to be the only place of its kind in the UK, does fundraising events to keep it going and has a gofundme page at

Jennie said: “It’s one of a kind, the first of a kind and, hopefully, not the last of its kind. We are open to anyone, not just veterans. We have civilians who come in and are transfixed by the stories some of the veterans tell them about their time serving their country.”

The veterans have also helped to give the place its own unique feel by donating maps, army tunics, RAF uniform, berets and lots of other military memorabilia for the lounge.

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.

Some veterans groups now use it as a meeting base and it can be used by groups outside the normal opening hours. It has free Wi-Fi, dominoes, cards and board games. 

Jennie has also set up a scheme so people can buy a veteran a drink or a meal paid for in advance.

To find out more about Tommy’s Lounge go to its website at or Facebook at

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.