“The Army gave me a home, now it’s my turn to give the Army a home.”

//“The Army gave me a home, now it’s my turn to give the Army a home.”

Read this blog to discover veteran Tony Brown’s life journey and his incredible creation of Forces Manor…

Situated in the village of Kincraig, on the banks of the River Spey, five miles south of Aviemore in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park is Forces Manor. Built in 1880 as a highland retreat for an Edinburgh doctor, it has also been a shooting lodge and hotel. Army veteran Tony Brown is now in the process of transforming it into an impressive multi-purpose not-for-profit centre where tri-service serving personnel, veterans and their families can drop in, meet or stay for a short break or longer holiday.

Tony’s journey to Forces Manor has not been an easy one. He was abandoned by his mother at the age of seven months and taken into care. He spent 15 years in the notorious Shirley Oaks children’s home in London, which Tony says, “ruined my childhood”.

However, Tony joined the Army Cadets when he was 12, and the regular Army at the age of 16, beginning as a Junior Leader in the Royal Corps of Transport. Tony describes this as “the first family I actually belonged to”. Tony had also built up a wonderful friendship with the family who owned Forces Manor, then called the Ossian Hotel, having stayed there during a few school holidays. On the day he enlisted, he was asked for his leave address – reluctant to admit he had spent time in a children’s home and determined not to return to Shirley Oaks, he gave the Ossian’s address and the owners’ names as his guardians. The Ossian became his “sanctuary” and the seed of the future Forces Manor was planted.

During his Army career, Tony served as a driver tank transporter and arctic warrior throughout the UK, Northern Ireland, Asia, Germany and throughout Europe. Since leaving the Army in 2016, he has become an award-winning publisher, writing and self-publishing the first World Snowboard Guide and the first European Snow Atlas, as well as a series of booklets about the Cairngorms National Park. He is now writing a book of his time in the Army to raise funds for “vulnerable children in care, which I was, and homeless and injured soldiers, which I could have been”. He is also an instructor with Ist Battalion The Highlanders Army Cadets based in Aviemore.

Forces Manor is open for guests but is still a work in progress. Tony has done much of the design and building work himself, often working in sub-zero temperatures in the Scottish winter! It has accommodation for 56 guests in a variety of single, double/twin ensuite and non-ensuite rooms, and a suite with its own lounge which sleeps up to six. Other facilities include a guest kitchen, dining room, study/conference room, laundry and drying room and, once finished, there will also be a military library, games room and veterans’ lounge.

The Cairngorms National Park has a wealth of attractions from mountains, forest paths, lochs, rivers, waterfalls, abundant wildlife, including ospreys, and distilleries to name but a few! Kincraig itself has, amongst other things, two bars, a loch-side restaurant, water sports centre and café/tea room with an art gallery, and nearby Aviemore and Kingussie have a wealth of facilities, making Forces Manor an ideal place to stay….all made possible due to Tony’s extraordinary vision, dedication and hard work.

We are delighted that information about Reading Force will be available for families in Forces Manor with an Armed Forces connection. Thanks to Tony for helping us to spread the word.

For more information you can go to the Forces Manor website here