A NEW charity is being launched to raise money to improve welfare and support services for the Royal Marines of 40 Commando based at Norton Fitzwarren.

Taunton businessman Sean O’Brien, owner of Buff Urban Day Spa, is founding Go Commando, and an array of fundraising schemes has already been set up.

This week, Sean told the County Gazette: “There are a tremendous number of really worthwhile causes out there, but what became apparent very quickly was a need for support for the ongoing welfare of the Royal Marines and their families.

“The charity aims to supply a range of services to support them on an ongoing basis.

“On the whole the welfare for the Marines is good, but it’s an increasing burden on limited resources.

“For such a long time Taunton seemed to feel the Marines were removed from the community, but I think now we all feel they’re very much part of the community.

“We selected the charity’s name carefully. This is a sad subject matter, but equally, let’s not forget these are men who, despite the atrocities they’ve seen, are young, and we’re trying to appeal to a younger audience, and take something and make it fun.”

Fundraising activities for Go Commando include: l A sell-out black tie ball at Norton Manor Camp to be attended by 400 people on November 27. The event has attracted high-profile sponsors and raffle prizes, meaning organisers hope to raise at least £40,000.

l A calendar featuring naked photos of our local Marines from 40 Commando. The photo shoots were done this week with support from Magenta print and display, and Debenhams in Taunton.

Sean O’Brien said: “It will be a classic look black and white calendar with features like tattoos picked out in colour.

“There will be photos showing injuries, but they’re photos with stories behind them – this will be tasteful and classy.”

It is hoped that the calendars will be on sale in outlets including Debenhams.

Wrist bands are on sale from Buff Urban Day Spa in Taunton at £2 each.

There will be charity collectors out and about at Wednesday’s Marines march through Taunton.