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news views Summer 2010


Issue 22

from the heart of SSAFA Forces Help

Celebrating 125 years 1885–2010


Welcome to News & Views

Headlines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Association News

Dear Reader

Service of Celebration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4-6 A Royal thanksgiving for SSAFA’s 125th Anniversary Operational Welfare Fund . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Getting gifts to the front line National Collection Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8-9 SSAFA125 curtain-raiser collects £75,000 A right Royal Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10-11 The Chairman reflects on the last ten years

Welcome to the first of two anniversary editions of News and Views. This issue contains a three page feature on the Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey (page 4) including the moving testimonies from the event. We also focus on some of the early fundraising success of SSAFA125 (page 8). The people that the Association supports remain at the heart of everything we do and this edition tells three of their stories (page 12). There will be lots more news about SSAFA125 in our Autumn edition so please continue to send me stories and pictures of your local events and initiatives. Best wishes

SSAFA Stories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12-13 Three lives changed by SSAFA Ride of Britain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14-15 Edinburgh to London non-stop on a rickshaw Volunteer News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16-17 Branch and Service Committee events Editor: Gabriele Black

Registered Charity No 210760 & SC038056. Est. 1885

Icing on the Birthday Cake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 St Vincent’s celebrates its 60th birthday with top award The final word… from the Controller . . . . . . . . . .19

Art Director: Yaél Toledo-Dean Editorial contributors: Michael Ivatt, Lucy Walters Please send all feedback on n&v to Contributions for the Winter 2010 Issue by 1st September 2010.

The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association – Forces Help 19 Queen Elizabeth Street, London SE1 2LP T 020 7403 8783 F 020 7403 8815 E Cover photograph: Nell McAndrew launches SSAFA125


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headlines SSAFA Forces Help’s fantastic new range of merchandise is now available at our online shop, There is a range of SSAFA125 products (including SSAFA Ted), as well as a selection of accessories, clothing and jewellery to choose from. The shop also provides volunteers with the chance to buy fundraising and awareness materials in bulk quantities at cost price. When ordering merchandise for your branch, division or committee please contact your Awareness and Fundraising Managers (AFMs) via the bulk orders section of the site.

Nell McAndrew launches SSAFA125

RAFBF donates to SSAFA Sir Robert Wright, Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF) recently presented a cheque for £172,890 to SSAFA Forces Help. SSAFA works closely with all of the major benevolent funds, and the welcome donation will support caseworking costs. Sir Robert said: "SSAFA Forces Help plays an integral role in delivering the RAFBF's welfare assistance to RAF family members in need. Without that support, our welfare teams would find it far more difficult to address need with speed and efficiency."

Forces sweetheart and model Nell McAndrew joined a host of military re-enactors to launch SSAFA's 125th anniversary at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Nell, who is an active supporter of the Association, was helped by Chelsea Pensioners to inspect a timeline of troops representing the charity's remarkable 125 year history. Nell, who took part in SSAFA’s Big Jump skydive last year, said: "I am a passionate supporter of our Armed Forces and I'm really proud to help SSAFA Forces Help celebrate such a milestone anniversary today."

Mountain high SSAFA Forces Help is supporting disabled skiers from the Armed Forces in their attempt to fulfil Olympic dreams. The Combined Services Disabled Ski Team, many of whom have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan, has just completed a very successful season on the slopes, which included taking on their able-bodied colleagues in a number of competitions. The hectic winter programme was designed to prepare individuals to represent their country in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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Service of Celebration The 125th Anniversary of SSAFA Forces Help was marked with a moving service at Westminster Abbey on the 18th February. His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent was joined by members of the Armed Forces, more than 1,600 volunteers and staff past and present.


s the British Army left to fight in Egypt in 1885, Major James Gildea raised awareness of the plight of the families left behind. His letter to The Times newspaper resulted in donations of cash and offers of help and the beginning of a charity that went on to become SSAFA Forces Help. Then, as now, Britain was engaged in a conflict far from home and


the public were keen to support their troops. 125 years later, the Service of Celebration gave thanks to the early pioneers in military welfare and those who have shaped SSAFA into the Association it is today. The service was conducted by The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, and the Address was given by The Right Reverend Dr Stephen

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Venner DL, Bishop to Her Majesty’s Forces (above). SSAFA’s work was highlighted through the personal testimonies of Zoe Charlton and Major Simon Shirley, both of whom have recently been supported by the Association. HRH Prince Michael of Kent, President of SSAFA Forces Help, led the Act of Dedication and said: “As we look to the future with hope, so let us dedicate ourselves to the service of God and our fellow men and women, remembering in particular those who have served, and those who still serve, in the maintenance of peace and justice among all nations and peoples.”

Lieutenant General Sir Robin Ross KCB OBE, Chairman, SSAFA Forces Help, read from St Matthew’s Gospel (25: 31-40). Prayers were led by The Reverend Graeme Napier, Minor Canon of Westminster; Jan Dowlen-Gilliland, Director of Nursing, SSAFA Forces Help; and Colonel John Royle MBE, the Chairman of SSAFA’s Regional Representatives. As the congregation left the Abbey they passed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a moving reminder of the sacrifices required by conflict and the on-going relevance of SSAFA Forces Help.

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When Zoe Charlton and Major Simon Shirley stood up to speak in Westminster Abbey they were poignant moments. Both have truly remarkable stories to tell, and yet they are just two among the many thousands of people that SSAFA supports every year. Evidence that SSAFA still holds true to the original ideals of Major James Gildea 125 years on. At just 20 years old, Zoe Charlton is one of the Association’s youngest caseworkers. A ‘child of the regiment’, she looks upon SSAFA as something of an extended family. “My dad, Private John Charlton who served in the Army for eight years, was killed in October 1991 in a motorbike accident just after he left, leaving me and my mum on our own. SSAFA Forces Help and the Durham Light Infantry helped my mum to pay for funeral costs. Seven years later my mum was diagnosed with cancer and in October 1997 she lost her battle leaving me on my own. I was eight.” Zoe’s aunt and uncle became her legal guardians and she moved to Lancashire to live with them and her two cousins – who she now refers to as her brothers. She said: “It was a difficult time to say the least. When I moved in with my aunt and uncle they only had a two-bedroom house which meant they had to move. SSAFA helped pay the moving and legal costs and also provided bedroom furniture for me. “When I was growing up SSAFA was a constant presence. Over the years they helped with the cost of school uniforms and school trips. When I was at high school with SSAFA’s help we were able to get a new laptop, printer and software to help all three of us with our education. But it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I started to really understand what they did for me and got to know my caseworkers Frank Hookham and Malcolm Smith, who have been a constant source of help and guidance through the years.” When Zoe was 19 she was asked if she would like to speak to volunteers at SSAFA’s Lancashire Branch AGM about her experiences. She did not hesitate. “Everybody was really welcoming and from that point on I knew I wanted to get more involved. It was suggested that I think about becoming a SSAFA caseworker. It didn’t take much persuasion, after everything they have done for me it seemed a good way to give something back. It’s my way of saying a very big thank you.” Within months Zoe was on a caseworker course at Central Office in London. And a thank you letter from a World War Two veteran, her first case, proved to be a really emotional moment. “Now I’m preparing to join the Forces myself and



I’ll continue to spread the word about SSAFA wherever I end up. It’s a charity that will always be very close to my heart.”

Major Simon Shirley of the Royal Irish Regiment was seriously injured while responding to a bomb attack on an Afghan Police post in April 2008. “I was in the lead vehicle when we hit the IED,” he said. “Most experiences in life allow a moment of anticipation, even if only by a few nanoseconds. When you’re blown up there is no anticipation. Your mind does catch up and you realise the maelstrom of energy around you can be only one thing. “I couldn’t see and as I couldn’t feel my arm I thought it had been blown off. As the dust settled I discussed the issue with my Sergeant Major, his choice Anglo-Saxon confirming that my arm was indeed still there.” Simon was evacuated to Selly Oak Hospital where his anxious wife Audrey found him. Neither of them had any concept of how long the road to recovery would be. He underwent 12 major operations, spent two months in hospital in Birmingham and a further 19 months in rehabilitation. “It was a long and frustrating process and one that is replicated for every wounded soldier,” he said. “We do not make good patients. We do not like needing help and we do not like asking for help. But we need our families to be there for us and it is SSAFA, as part of the wider Service family, that allows that to happen. At both Birmingham and Headley Court the Norton Homes have been key. These homes provide a small sanctuary for our families from the relentless trips to the hospital wards and, for us, a chance to escape from the hospital regime and spend some time with our loved ones.” Several members of Simon’s own regiment are still undergoing rehabilitation for their injuries – including Ranger Andrew Allen, another regular guest at Norton House. It is a toll that visibly affects him. “Unfortunately, my story is not unusual. Across the services, whether it is a Marine, a Para, a Rifleman, a Sapper or a Gunner, these stories are still unfolding. Many will require a lifetime of help and I know SSAFA will be there for them. “On behalf of us all, this is what I want to thank SSAFA for. For being there when we have deployed on operations, for still being there when we have become a vague memory in the Regimental Mess, for still being there when we have packed away our uniforms and for still being there for our families when we are gone.” z


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Operational Welfare Fund British Forces in Afghanistan received Christmas gifts through a joint initiative by SSAFA Forces Help and MoD.


ach year thousands of goodwill parcels are sent to troops on operations by well-meaning members of the public. They demonstrate the high regard in which our Armed Forces are held but they also create a logistical headache. Priority has to be given to mail from friends and families and the parcels necessitate additional resupply flights and convoys into already difficult and dangerous environments. To solve the problem, the MoD turned to SSAFA Forces Help. Together with the Daily Mirror, SSAFA was able to tap into public support and raise enough money to purchase items that will really improve the quality of life for those on the front line. To date, more than ÂŁ37,000 has been donated to the new Operational Welfare Fund. Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson, the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Personnel), said: "The operational mail system can be swamped by the public's generosity with the all-important personal mail becoming significantly delayed. We are very grateful to SSAFA Forces Help for channelling the public's respect and affection for our Armed Forces into these excellent gifts for the personnel serving in forward operating bases." The first 20 boxes of gifts were sent to Afghanistan

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shortly before Christmas and pushed straight out to forward operating bases in Helmand Province. They contained DVDs, computer games and gym equipment. As donations increased, the next tranche of gifts included portable film projectors, in addition to a number of smaller gifts. SSAFA's Director of Fundraising, Claire Hoather, commented: "We were really pleased when the MoD asked us to work with them on this. We know that the public loves our Armed Forces and wants to show that with gifts. By giving money, it ensures that the guys and girls get everything that has been sent from home in addition to some great presents to help them unwind when they get a little down time." One of the first recipients of the Operational Welfare Fund was the 3 RIFLES Battle Group serving on Op HERRICK 11. Rifleman Jordan Dumaurier, 18, from Bournemouth, said: "It's great that we're getting support from these people. All of the gadgets sent out here are coming in handy. You get used to being out here but we do need to know we have the support of the British public as well and these Christmas presents really help. We are really appreciative of the gifts that have been sent." z


National Collection Volunteers come out in force to raise money for SSAFA Forces Help.

North Yorkshire £4,500


he Association's first ever National Collection Day was so successful it is set to become an annual fixture. Organised to raise funds and awareness during SSAFA's 125th anniversary celebrations, the event on Saturday 13th February, saw an incredible £75,000 collected. More than 250 collections took place in towns and cities across the UK and as far afield as Cyprus, Gibraltar and Germany. Branches and Service Committees will use all the money they collected to assist local people. SSAFA Director of Fundraising, Claire Hoather, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the level of support for our first ever National Collection Day. SSAFA volunteers were out in force with their collecting buckets all day despite the chilly February weather and the public were very generous. "In addition to raising tens of thousands of pounds the day also raised vital awareness of SSAFA's work. It was the perfect curtain-raiser for a year of SSAFA125 activities and was so popular that we are planning to hold another National Collection Day next year on Saturday May 14th."

Photo by Alain Lockyer

RAF St Mawgan In-Service Committee £858


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Day Somerset £2,200

Angus, Perth & Kinross £464

South Yorkshire £1,457

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Photo Sheffield Newspapers

British Forces Cyprus €2,120


A right Royal Marine Recipient of the first SSAFA Gold Medal, Lieutenant General Sir Robin Ross looks back on his time as Chairman of SSAFA Forces Help.


fter ten years at the helm of SSAFA Forces Help the Association's outgoing Chairman Sir Robin Ross has plenty to reflect on. A turbulent time for our Armed Forces has marked an increasingly busy time for SSAFA, its staff and volunteers and Sir Robin is proud of what has been achieved. Through 125 years of supporting our servicemen and women SSAFA has learned to adapt to meet the changing needs of our Armed Forces. Nothing illustrates this better than the £5million Norton Homes project to provide accommodation for the relatives of badly-wounded troops. "What we realised quite early on was that there was nowhere for the families to go and that's why we bought the two houses, one at Selly Oak and one at Headley Court. "It was not my own idea but I think it was an absolutely brilliant one. I'm so struck by the really marvellous way in which those two homes have been converted and the real relief they offer to the next of kin. We saw a need and we just got on with it. There will be other things that we will need to do in the future and we must be ready to react and do what is necessary." Sir Robin's 40-year career with the Royal


Sir Robin after receiving the medal from HRH Prince Michael of Kent

Marines – he retired as Commandant General in 1996 – left him well-placed to understand the needs of the serving community. He served all over the world, including Northern Ireland, but is particularly proud of what was achieved in 1991 when he took 5,000 marines to Northern Iraq after the Kuwait War. "Some 600,000 people had fled into the mountains to get away from Saddam Hussein after he used poison gas. It was still winter so it was very cold and snow was on the ground but these people had absolutely no means of support except what they carried with them. "It was a fascinating time. Inevitably a lot of the people who suffered first were the old and the very young and we had a tremendous amount of work to do looking after children. It was very important and gave us all a real sense of purpose. "I'm certain that the Marines who I was lucky enough to command really enjoyed the challenge of saving lives rather than taking them."

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focus on...

On leaving the Royal Marines Sir Robin initially joined SSAFA's Wiltshire Branch as Chairman before being asked to take on the role of National Chairman 10 years ago. One of the first challenges he faced was steering the Association through the proposed merger of SSAFA Forces Help and The Royal British Legion. "It was implied that the Legion and SSAFA should combine but we did not agree with that because their whole way of doing business is rather different from ours," he said. "It is SSAFA's volunteer ethos which I think is so important. I have always been hugely impressed by what SSAFA volunteers do, particularly the caseworkers. I have coined a phrase during my time here – that the caseworkers are the jewel in the crown of SSAFA. They are brilliant people and long may it last. That's why it's very important that we train them. It's quite a challenging job and getting more complex as things develop and life gets more complicated." Sir Robin has particularly enjoyed getting out and about around the country to meet SSAFA's volunteers and the challenge of chairing Council. "SSAFA is a wonderful organisation and it makes a hell of a difference to hundreds of thousands of

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people. I have made many friends over the last ten years. I shall be very sad to go but I think its right there should be some new blood. Ten years is about right and now we need somebody who will have some new ideas about the future. I'm sure my successor will do that." The last decade has been a difficult one for British Armed Forces and SSAFA Forces Help has risen to the challenge, quietly providing the support our troops and their families need. But when Sir Robin was first appointed National Chairman, the Association was facing a very different kind of challenge. "I remember when I first took over there was a report written by a retired civil servant. Things have changed so much since then. "He said your future is very limited for three reasons, first of all there is nobody to look after now that the World War II generation are dying, secondly you will never be able to recruit caseworkers of the standard that you have at the moment because women will be working more and thirdly, that we would never be able to raise the money. "Well, we proved him wrong. And now there is a whole new generation of people who will need SSAFA's support." z


SSAFA Stories

During SSAFA125 we are using 10 stories to demonstrate the scale and scope of our work. Here are three of them.


ally Harris was called up on September 1st, 1939, at the age of just 18. Two days later war was declared. More than 70 years on and Wally, now 89, is the proud recipient of a Military Medal and has even had a platoon named after him. In early 1941 Wally was a Sergeant with the 90th (City of London) Field Regiment which helped defend South East England during the Battle of Britain. “Most of our time was spent training and on exercises,” he said. “But my first contact with the


enemy was when I captured the pilot of a German Messerschmitt 109 fighter plane shot down near Elham in Kent. “We scattered when we saw the plane catch fire and the pilot bale out but I happened to be close to where he landed so I took his pistol and arrested him.” Wally’s division was sent overseas in 1942, initially across the Sinai Desert to North Iraq to protect the area’s oil fields, and later to Egypt to prepare for the invasion of Sicily. On his return to England, Wally’s regiment was

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made part of the 231 Brigade of the 50th Division and told they were to become an armoured regiment. They were given six months to get used to the new equipment and train on Landing Crafts with the Royal Navy. On D-Day, June 6th, 1944, they were one of the first regiments ashore. As part of the LAD (Light Aid Detachment) it was Wally’s job to stay close to the unit and keep all vehicles and equipment operational. “Not only did we land on the beach but then we had to go back,” he said. Wally and another enterprising colleague salvaged equipment from vehicles that had ‘drowned’ on landing. “I actually pinched a Browning machine gun from one of the Sherman tanks that had been knocked out. I could have got into serious trouble for that but twice later we were attacked by enemy aircraft and were able to use it to good effect.” It was Wally’s ‘salvaged’ gun that also saved the day in the French village of Mons en Pevelle as the British came under heavy attack on the way to liberate Brussels. “We had no idea German troops were in the village, I was really frightened, shaking in my boots,” he said. Armed with only the Browning and a rifle, Wally and a corporal found some high ground and fired on the German troops gathered in the village until their vehicle exploded and then took the survivors prisoner. It was rare for a REME craftsman to get involved in direct fighting and for his quick-thinking that day, Wally was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery. His citation read: “Sgt Harris’s courage and coolness undoubtedly saved the LAD and ‘B’ Echelon considerable casualties and damage.” In 2002, his actions were recognised once again when the Rowcroft Company of the Army Training Regiment, the main REME training sub-unit, created the Harris Platoon, in his honour. After the war Wally married his fiancée Dolly and worked in the motor trade, ending up as a Rolls Royce mechanic. It was a retired officer who initially put him in touch with SSAFA’s Bracknell Division. “Our old TV packed up and because of my sight problems I had to pull my chair right up close. I needed a big screen TV. The local SSAFA person came to see me and he arranged to get some money from TRBL and the REME Association. It means we can see the TV much better.” Wally, who is Dolly’s main carer, also contacted SSAFA earlier this year and caseworker Joan Newland was able to help. “I wanted some respite care and I thought I would call SSAFA. A lady came to see me and talked things through and helped arrange a two week holiday in North Wales through the Royal British Legion. It made life a great deal easier for us both.” z

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ANTHONY'S STORY Five years ago, Anthony’s son Dylan was born with a life-threatening liver problem and desperately needed a transplant. It was a difficult and stressful time for Anthony, his wife Kay and their two other young children. Each night they took turns to go to the hospital in London where Dylan was waiting for the operation. SSAFA was at hand for the family, providing a trained volunteer to look after the children and assisting with the cost of regular hospital visits. "I can't thank SSAFA enough. Your help really made a difference to my family when things were getting very tough. Dylan is now a bright and bouncing five year old!"

CLINTON'S STORY More than 25 years after serving in the Falklands War with the Parachute Regiment, Clinton Weekes, 49, was still carrying the mental scars. He was unable to sleep for the nightmares caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and his debts had spiralled out of control. "It's the bad memories that stop you from living properly. When I went to sleep at night it was like I was drowning and it's because of that you are scared to go to bed. If it wasn't for SSAFA I would have ended up on the streets."


Ride of Britain 450 miles, 53 hours, 2 adventurers, 1 rickshaw, 0 chance of doing that again!


fter rowing the Atlantic and trekking to the South Pole, adventurers James Cracknell and Ben Fogle recently took on a new endurance challenge. The plan, dreamt up by TV presenter Ben, was to ride non-stop for two and a half days from Edinburgh to London … on a rickshaw. The aim of the adventure, dubbed Ride of Britain, was to raise money and awareness for SSAFA Forces Help. With training consisting of just one 30 minute practice session, the pair set off from Edinburgh Castle on the blustery morning of Saturday 3rd October surrounded by soldiers, pipers and a crowd of well-wishers. Through the following 53 hours they relied on the routine that served them so well on the Atlantic, taking two or three hours on before changing over. Having pedalled around the clock, the pair arrived at Hyde Park Barracks at 1pm on the Monday, to be greeted by Central Office staff and a Guard of Honour from the Household Cavalry Regiment. Ben and double Olympic gold medalist James were cheered along the route by an army of supporters who turned out at all times of the day and night. It was an opportunity to collect money for SSAFA and sudden outbursts of generosity were a regular feature of the journey. The media also came out in force, including Sky TV, GMTV, BBC Radio 4 and many local reports, with a number of live interviews being conducted in the back of the rickshaw because there was no time to stop. The Ride of Britain raised more than £26,000 for SSAFA and generated approximately £300,000 worth of publicity. It was a great challenge undertaken by two great guys. Here are some of the entries from Ben's en-route


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ride of britain

Twitter diary: Saturday, 3rd October 5.00am: Arrived in Edinburgh. Cold and wet. 3 hours to go. Breakfast and team briefing and then off to the castle for an 8am start.

12.30pm: A19 to Doncaster. If anyone's near a coffee shop, I'd love a latte. 4.00pm: Wow. Tired now. About to start my shift. Feeling shattered. 6.30pm: A1 in a layby. Slowing Sunday traffic but

8.10am: We're off! I'm sitting on the back bouncing along Edinburgh's cobbled streets. Yeehaa! 8.15am: Just passing Arthur's Seat and Hollyrood House. Our rickshaw is blinged up like Austin Power's car! 10.00am: We're now on the A1. Hoot if you see us. James still peddling. Sky News interview in half and hour. 12.00am: End of my first two hour shift. V hot and v v v windy. Ham sandwich. 35 miles done. Near Berwick-upon-Tweed. 12.30pm: James peddling. Horrid head wind. Reduced speed to 7.5mph. Had to remove canopy to avoid capsize. 2.00pm: Crossing the border into England. Sunny and happy. 2.30pm: Just got our first donation from a wonderful Scottish family. I'm actually quite emotional. 11.30pm: 10 miles to Newcastle. Full moon. Very cold. Still windy. James has his teddy bear in the back.

lots of support. Next stop Grantham. Monday, 5th October 3.00am: I am so tired I'm beginning to hallucinate. Thought I had a penguin in the back of the rickshaw. Just finished 3 hour stint. 8.00am: Had a police escort through the night. Exhausted. Just visited Etonbury School in Stotfold. 50 miles to London. 8.30am: Just passed the 400 mile mark. Phew. James on bike now. Wet and drizzly but keeping spirits up by thinking of SSAFA and all their work. 11.30am: The SSAFA staff, event organisers, medics and Lucas, our star rickshaw mechanic, have all been amazing. 12.00am: We've got two police outriders to help us through the traffic now as we race towards Central London. Yeehaa! 1.15pm: We've made it. Phew. Huge thanks to everyone for your support. z

Sunday, 4th October 1.00am: Chain came off again. Still people out supporting. Wind still blowing a hooley. 2.30am: Just passed Stockton-on-Tees. Supporters still out in force. Thank you everyone, you're amazing. 7.30am: Phew. That was a tiring leg. Met some Catterick soldiers soon to be deployed to Afghhanistan. Very humbling. 10.00am: Thank you York. Amazing turn out. Such generosity. Makes you proud to be British. Sunny skies. 10.30am: Look out for our live chat from the rickshaw on BBC's 'Something for the Weekend'.

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As he approached his 50th birthday, John Radford decided to do something significant, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for SSAFA, Dorset, raising £2,000.

Having sold the 2009 SSAFA Raffle winning ticket at their Armed Forces Day stall, Lincolnshire Branch hosted the presentation of the top prize to Mrs Janice Ritchie.


A team from the Army Personnel Centre at Kentigern House walked the West Highland Way for the Glasgow Branch. They collected more than £3,000 having already raised £555 at a Big Brew Up earlier in 2009.

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volunteer news

More than £500 was collected for SSAFA Forces Help when teams from all three Services took part in the Adjutant General's Corps Polo Cup. The event, which was won by the Royal Navy team, was organised by Major Gill Shaw and took place at the Combined Services Polo Club in Tidworth, Wiltshire.

London NE raised more than £5,000 at a Concert featuring the RAF Squadronaires at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, in November. 6F Squadron Air Cadets proved smart and successful collectors on the Branch's behalf.

SSAFA France, together with a local vineyard near to Bergerac, has produced SSAFA125 labelled wine. Following an initial order for 20 cases of red, dry white and rose, the popularity of the idea has led to an increase in production by 500 bottles!

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The RAF Wittering Service Committee sold cakes provided by Cpl Sarah Barrow and the Sergeant's Mess to generate funds. A total of £514 was collected.

Musselburgh Race Course held its Annual Royal Scots Family Day in October, with the Edinburgh and Lothian Branch attending to raise awareness and funds. Branch Secretary, Jennifer Spence was invited to select 'Best Turned Out Horse'. Her choice, Distant Sun, ran bravely to finish with the leaders.


ssafa homes

Icing on the birthday cake As SSAFA Forces Help celebrates its 125th Anniversary, St Vincent’s Care Home is marking a milestone of its own.


Help Society in 1950 by the Brigstocke Family in memory of their sons Player and Bennett, who were killed in World War II. It was initially run as a home for the disabled, including both permanent residents and convalescents, and also offered short holidays to residents from other homes. Its first matron and administrator Olive Lee ran St Vincent’s for 30 years. She retired in 1981 and lived in the Gardener’s Cottage at the home until her death in 1997. St Vincent’s later became a residential care home for older people with a service connection and continues to take pride in its unique brand of care.

project in 2008 and is now home to 25 exservicemen and women. Sharon believes the home’s positive ethos is the secret to its success. She said: “One of the residents described it as a home but not with a capital ‘H’, which sums it up really. It’s not about being old - it’s about treating the residents as you would want your own family members to be treated and actually listening to what they want. “We’ve just bought our residents a Wii for the lounge and we listen to music every day. St Vincent’s has a soul.” St Vincent’s was originally bequeathed to the Forces

The Best Care Home Award was presented in a special ceremony at St Vincent’s in January. Staff are arranging a big party this summer with a barbecue, music and birthday cake, and one or two are also planning to go the extra mile for SSAFA125. Darren Leybourne and Karen Irwin, two members of staff, are both taking part in the SSAFA Forces Help ‘Big Jump’ skydive in July. Care and Training Officer, Darren, has also teamed up with two community nurses for a 70-mile round-theisland bike ride, a 70-mile round-the-island walk and a 40-mile row. To sponsor him visit z

Photo courtesy of Isle of Wight Gazette

he Isle of Wight home reaches its 60th birthday in 2010 and the fact that it has just been named Best Care Home in the South East is the icing on the cake as far as the staff and residents are concerned. Manager Sharon Atter, who has worked at St Vincent’s, in Ryde, for ten years, said: “I was really surprised to get the email telling me we had won the award. We got everybody together in the dining room and told them the good news. All the residents were over the moon.” St Vincent’s underwent a £1.1million extension


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the final word...

...from the Controller The 125th Anniversary of SSAFA Forces Help is finally upon us. I sense a real desire throughout the Association to celebrate this truly remarkable achievement whilst embracing the opportunities it offers. The year began in great style with the Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey being the undoubted highlight of the first quarter. More than 1,600 volunteers, Association staff and servicemen and women attended the service during which the Bishop to the Armed Forces gave a powerful address exhorting us to greater things in the years to come. The surroundings of Westminster Abbey provided a spectacular and fitting location and the whole day could not have been more apt. Our SSAFA125 project is gathering a huge amount of momentum with new fundraising and awareness initiatives literally being planned around the World. A quick glance at the news and events sections of our SSAFA125 website clearly demonstrates a very high level of energy, imagination and endeavour throughout the Association. There is still plenty of time to get involved.

community. From our work with the families of the wounded, our support to those families and siblings whose kith and kin have been killed, our leadership and development of the casework management system, to our help to servicemen making the important transition from Service to Veteran life, the role of SSAFA Forces Help is more important than it ever has been. Finally, we say a sad farewell to Lieutenant General Sir Robin Ross as our National Chairman. We thank him for his strong leadership, his good humour and the style that he has brought to the role. He has made a really wonderful contribution to the work of the Association. We very much look forward to working with and for our new Chairman, General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue. He remains tightly connected to the Ministry of Defence until later in the year but has pledged a great deal of his time to SSAFA Forces Help. There is a lot more of this great year to come and the Association has never been busier. I do thank you for the tremendous support you give to the work we all do.

But we must not forget that 2010 is about far more than SSAFA125. It is very much business as usual. And that business is the work to support our Armed Forces and their families, together with the Veterans

news & views summer 10


Some things don't change. The men and women of Britain's Armed Forces are the best in the world. They fight our wars far from home. Many are injured and many never come back. Since 1885, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association – Forces Help has made an unfailing commitment to these men and women and their loved ones. Back then, we thought that their bravery, dedication and loyalty deserved a lifetime of support. Some things don't change.

Find out how you can help our servicemen and women:

News & Views Summer 2010 - SSAFA Forces Help  

News and views from the heart of SSAFA Forces Help. We are the national charity that provides practical help and assistance to anyone in th...