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Issue 23 Winter 2010/11

from the heart of SSAFA Forces Help

General Sir David Richards The new Chief of Defence Staff talks to SSAFA

SSAFA Spirit

125 years of supporting the Forces community


Welcome to News & Views Dear Reader

Headlines............................................................................. 3 Association News A General for our Times ................................................. 4-6 An interview with the new Chief of Defence Staff Army v Navy 2010 ............................................................. 7 SSAFA’s day out at Twickenham Learning from each other............................................... 8-9 The Support Group for Bereaved Siblings SSAFA Spirit ............................................................... 10-12 125 years of meeting changing needs A Family Holiday .............................................................. 13 SSAFA’s Children’s Holidays 125 Celebrations .............................................................. 14 Celebrating SSAFA125 in style Kent Custody Scheme .................................................... 15 A branch initiative working with the police

Welcome to the Winter edition of SSAFA Forces Help’s ‘News and Views’ as we celebrate our 125th Anniversary. The Association has been in the thick of it since it was founded in 1885 as ‘SSAFA Spirit’ (page 10) demonstrates. But our work is as relevant today as it ever has been. In this edition you will read how SSAFA is supporting bereaved siblings (page 8), helping veterans in trouble with the law (page 15) and providing vital respite for Service families (page 13). Last, but certainly not least, we are honoured to have been given an exclusive interview with the new Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards. We wish him well in the testing months ahead. Best wishes

Volunteer News............................................................ 16-17 Branch and Service Committee events Scottish Service of Celebration...................................... 18 Edinburgh marks a 125 years

Editor: Gabriele Black

The final word… from the Controller.............................. 19

Art Director: Yaél Toledo-Dean

Registered Charity Number 210760 & SC038056. Established 1885.

Editorial contributors: Michael Ivatt, Lucy Walters Please send all feedback on n&v to Contributions for the Summer 2011 Issue by 1st March 2011.

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: General Sir David Richards. Photograph by Mark Crick


New face at the top General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue is the new Chairman of SSAFA Forces Help. Married to Jean with three daughters, General O’Donoghue will shortly come to the end of 42 years in the Army. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1968 and his overseas service has included Germany, the Falkland Islands and Rome. His current and final appointment is that of Chief of Defence Materiel. He is also the Master General of Logistics.

Big Brew Up Strictly Come Dancing and Hollyoaks star Ali Bastian joined military chefs, serving with the Grenadier Guards, to launch this year’s Big Brew Up. Ali said: “SSAFA has its 125th anniversary this year and its work is amazing.”

Season’s Greetings The SSAFA Forces Help 2010 Christmas card catalogue is now available. It offers a wider range of cards and merchandise than ever before, including a new Three Forces Friends design (pictured). To request a brochure call our helpline on 020 7463 9359, or download a copy from

Ted’s Travels SSAFA Ted is travelling the world and showing his snaps at ssafated. He is pictured here with the Air Cadets on a special flypast of Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen’s Birthday.

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Photograph by Mark Crick

A General for

General Sir David Richards talks exclusively to SSAFA Forces Help.


he new Chief of Defence Staff will have plenty to occupy him when he takes over this autumn and inevitably some tough decisions await him. But with a new coalition Government, ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the prospect of significant cuts to the country’s defence budget, General Sir David Richards is far from daunted by the task ahead. Commander of international forces in southern Afghanistan from 2006-2007, the father-of-two has completed three tours of Northern Ireland, served in Germany, commanded the UK contingent in East Timor and twice commanded a UK taskforce


in Sierra Leone, a role that proved to be a defining one in his career. Ten years ago, as the Sierra Leone civil war raged, General Richards’ mission, ‘Operation Palliser’, was to oversee the evacuation of British and foreign nationals. He saw an opportunity to do much more. “I had been to Sierra Leone in 1999 and saw some pretty horrible things but I also met a people who deserved a lot better, so when we went back on Palliser in May 2000 and I had the opportunity to interpret my orders ‘liberally’, I took it. “By doing a little bit more it very quickly dawned on us that we could also stop the

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focus on...

our times

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governance on the Afghans and then, having persuaded them to do that, singularly failed to educate them on how to run that sort of organisation. “I think it’s a disgrace. The arrogance with which we, the international community, applied ourselves to this problem in the early part of the conflict is something that must not stop us trying to help people in their situation again but for goodness sake we have got to learn the lessons and there are a number.” Those lessons include having enough manpower to deal with the problem in the first place, according to General Richards. He explained: “On the military side it’s the need for mass. We sent far too few troops into these areas and became more of an irritant than a solution. You need soldiers out amongst the people to reassure them, to protect them. We couldn’t do that.” The General is not one to shy away from difficult situations. In 2006 it was General Richards who drew the attention of the world’s media to the severity of the problem in Afghanistan claiming “fighting was the Photo: AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

country from collapsing. Within six weeks we had stabilised the situation, and the Revolutionary United Front was put firmly on the back foot.” His actions led to a ceasefire and in due course, the end of the conflict and reflect General Richards’ belief that the Services can be a real force for good. He said: “I realised with military power properly organised and used imaginatively that you could really make a difference. There is far too much focus generally when people look at the Armed Forces on killing and doing not very nice things. Actually through most of my professional life I have looked on it in a completely different way as an opportunity to do jolly good things.” He admits to a “strong moral streak” which he says can be both a weakness and a strength in the military. “I think most good soldiers throughout history, people like Slim and Templer in relatively recent history, who I view as proxy mentors, have had that same streak. You don’t do it for its own sake you do it for something better.” His affection for the Afghan people is also clear and General Richards has been frustrated that the counter insurgency campaign has been dogged by a lack of resources. “I first went to Afghanistan in 2005 and took command of the expansion of NATO into the south and east in 2006. It was a wonderful opportunity to do what the vast majority of Afghan people wanted which was not ever to be ruled by the Taliban again. “I could see what we would be able to do if we had been resourced properly and I was very vocal back then in explaining that the international community had not given us the tools with which to do the job.” Richards maintains if the international effort in Afghanistan had been properly resourced from the outset it would have been a different story. “People talk about governance, and that is a dimension of it, but what we were doing was imposing a Western system of

General Richards in Afghanistan.


worst the British Army had encountered since Korea”. While he does now think progress has been made and describes the transformation in southern Afghanistan as “staggering” he says there is still work to do convincing the British public about the conflict. He said: “The problem is we haven’t explained well enough what we are doing and why we are doing it and that will have to be a very important part of what I do when I become CDS.” He is genuinely optimistic that the Afghanistan campaign will ultimately be a success and says academics and journalists tend to focus on the here and now which can look “rather horrific”. “We are not complete idiots. We are like a chess player working two, three, four moves ahead. You have to put things in place. A counter insurgency takes time. It takes time to properly understand the nature of the

problem and the people amongst whom you’re working. I think we have a much better understanding, I’m not saying it’s sufficient yet but we are well on the way and belatedly resourcing the operation in the way we always should have done. If we had got this right in 2001/02 we would have been out in five years.” General Richards believes that Iraq and Afghanistan will not be the last conflicts that Britain is required to fight and says the nature of warfare in the 21st Century throws up a raft of new challenges that we must be prepared for. “My lesson from the last 15 years is not that you shouldn’t do these things. I think they are inevitable with the risk to us of failed and failing states, so we had


better bite the bullet and resource these operations properly.” While he says he will miss the camaraderie of the frontline, describing soldiers as “amusing, irrepressible and hugely courageous”, with spending cuts looming, General Richards is reconciled to the fact that his own battles will also be fought at Whitehall. He said: “I view it as necessary acts of advocacy and explanation. We live in a cashstrapped era and one key requirement for this nation’s security is that we are a prosperous nation so if we have to play a part in making sure this country remains so in the long term by accepting short-term pain we are going to have to find a way through that. “Not every soldier, sailor or airman’s wish list is going to be met in the next 10 years but there has to be an intellectual strategic rationale for whatever decisions we take.” General Richards is also keenly aware of the need to support families and admits this is something the military has not always done well. “We are getting much better at it and SSAFA has been at the forefront, but I do think culturally that the military and institutions of Government have been guilty of misunderstanding their vital role. “Institutionally people are very reluctant to spend money on families almost as if it’s corrupt and I do think that we have got to sort that out. People are our most precious assets. It doesn’t matter how much kit you have if the right quality people are not there because you haven’t got that balance of risk versus reward right.” In a long and distinguished career General Richards’ highlights still include the “huge sense of pride” he felt on passing commando training and the seven years he then spent serving alongside the Royal Marines. Inevitably, the pivotal weeks he spent in Sierra Leone are also described as “very special” but unsurprisingly it is Afghanistan which currently occupies his thoughts. “I’d like to finish as Chief of Defence Staff having established in people’s minds that we can get Afghanistan right, that it is a noble cause and that we have learnt the lessons about how to do it, so we can get out with our heads held high and leave this country very proud of what it has achieved.” l

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ARMY v NAVY 2010 SSAFA Forces Help was invited to be the official charity for this year’s Army versus Navy Rugby Match at Twickenham. Dozens of volunteers mingled with the 55,000-strong crowd to collect donations and sell SSAFA125 merchandise. The day raised nearly £20,000.

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Learning from each other SSAFA Forces Help’s new Support Group helps young people to cope with their grief.


he death of a close relative in conflict can have a devastating impact on the whole family. For those who have lost a brother or sister it can be a particularly difficult time and the SSAFA Forces Help Support Group for Bereaved Siblings is now helping more and more young people come to terms with their grief. The group started informally when young people who attended SSAFA’s existing Support Group for Bereaved Families with their parents found it helped to speak to others of the same age who had been through a similar experience. Ryan Thornton’s older brother, Gunner Lee Thornton, was shot and fatally wounded by a sniper in Iraq in 2006. One of the founding members of the group, Ryan (pictured bottom right), 23, said: “When my brother died I didn’t speak to anyone about it. We were very close but I didn’t speak to my mum and dad because I wanted to be there for them. But this group helped me - it helped to build my confidence. We meet up and talk about what we have been through and we understand what each other is thinking.” Since the initial meetings in 2009, the group has grown in numbers and now includes people from as young as six to those in their 30s. It is open to those who have had a brother or sister in the Armed Forces who died in a combat or non-combat situation. Kelly Mason, 24, joined the group after the death of her brother Corporal Tam


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support groups

Mason. Tam was seriously wounded in Afghanistan in September last year and spent several weeks at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham before finally losing his fight for life on October 25th. Kelly said: “The group really helps because although we are all in the same position none of us have been through the exact same thing so we can all learn from each other.” SSAFA is working with Winston’s Wish, a charity for bereaved children, to make sure that members get the best support available and recently held its first Sibling Support and Adventure Weekend for over 18s at the Calvert Trust in Kielder Water, Northumberland. In addition to having fun and relaxing, the three-day break aimed to help young adults gain confidence and get to know others in a similar situation. Activities included rock-climbing, abseiling and archery. The group was also given the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions they had with a representative from the Army. The next meeting of the Support Group for Bereaved Siblings will be in Swansea on October 15th and 16th and for the first time will also include an event specifically for young people under 18. For more information contact Emma Barnes on 07920 586178 or Jane Barnes on 020 7463 9234. l

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ssafa spirit For the last 125 years SSAFA Forces Help has adapted to meet the changing needs of the Service community. We are still doing so today.


hree years ago, in response to a plea from an Army wife, Sue Norton, SSAFA Forces Help launched a £5million appeal to fund two ‘homes-fromhome’ for the families of seriously injured Service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Within a matter of months the fundraising target had been reached and SSAFA Norton House, Headley Court, was upand-running. No small feat, but in fact, not an unusual achievement if you look back through SSAFA’s illustrious 125-year history. From its earliest days SSAFA became known for taking swift and assertive action


in times of trouble, while its dedicated and experienced volunteers earned a reputation for going above and beyond the call of duty to help those in need. The Association’s founder Colonel Sir James Gildea called it ‘the ready help of friends to friends’ and gave it the motto ‘twice gives he who gives quickly’. And Gildea made a point of leading by example. In 1887 he saw that the widow and two children of a private soldier were met at Portsmouth on their return from Quetta. A friend of Gildea’s cleared their baggage from the ship, found lodgings for them and then saw them safely on their way to her brother in Aldershot, while in

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1890, Gildea put down his own £10 note to launch an appeal for homes for officers’ widows and daughters. Over the years the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association (SSFA) became adept at raising the funds it needed to continue its work in times of crisis. The advent of the Boer War in 1899 was a major challenge for the Association with thousands of soldiers being sent to South Africa leaving their families at home. In the three years and three months of the campaign some 12,000 SSFA volunteers distributed more than £1.25million among 206,438 widows and dependents with 235,877 children. Meanwhile the outbreak of the First World War saw SSFA appointed the agent of the National Relief Fund. In the first five months alone the Association paid out £1,281,814 while the number of volunteers had risen to 50,000. When a severe epidemic of measles hit in May 1915 one division was visiting upwards of 145 cases a day delivering beef-tea, eggs and milk for extra nourishment. It was after the Great War that the SSFA president Queen Alexandra wrote to Sir James Gildea suggesting a name change recognising the significant contribution of the Royal Air Force. The Soldiers’ Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association was born. Just 20 years later and the country was once again plunged into doubt and uncertainty by the outbreak of the Second World War and SSAFA volunteers were at the heart of the relief effort. From housing and clothing those who had lost their homes, organising financial

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support and assisting in the evacuation of children, to visiting the sick, enquiring after missing men and reassuring troops about the safety of their families back home, it was a mammoth task. In 1941 the first SSAFA Overseas Bureau was opened in Cairo to handle enquiries from relatives although it quickly became somewhere for the men to go to enquire about their families back home, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed. In a letter to SSAFA’s Chairman in 1944, General Montgomery, Commander of the 21st Army Group, said: “In the knowledge that his family at home are being well cared for by SSAFA, the soldier fighting overseas may wholeheartedly devote himself to his duty without being worried by family troubles and consequently hampered in the efficient execution of his duty. “I’m sure that all your workers know the enormous value of the work that they are doing and will put their shoulders to the wheel in the serious days that are ahead of us and give only of their best.” Volunteers doing just that were two female welfare workers living in Germany in April 1945 – ‘probably as far forward as any woman in any theatre of war’. They set up a SSAFA office in a partially destroyed street and posted signs at every street corner, ‘SSAFA Advice Bureau’, to guide the incoming troops. The pair lived, slept and worked in the shadow of bombed out buildings without lighting or running water. SSAFA staff at home were no less dedicated – in autumn 1940 the central office windows were blown in four times leaving the office without gas for a month.


ssafa spirit

Undeterred, staff brought oil stoves in from the country and sleeping accommodation was installed in the office as travelling became more and more difficult. Several children’s homes were opened to cater for the numerous youngsters left homeless by the war. A two-yearold was taken in after losing his mother, grandparents, aunt and older siblings when a flying bomb hit their house. He was dug out of the debris still alive and looked after until his father returned from active service. One SSAFA representative even managed to continue his duties in secret for five years under German occupation. Jersey’s Hon Secretary JD Le Breton was ultimately questioned by the Gestapo for possession of a wireless set but was fortunately saved from sentencing by the liberation. After the war SSAFA remained a vital cog in the military machine. When the truce in Korea was imminent in 1953, a call came from the War Office requesting an experienced caseworker to meet the British prisoners. Head of the Case Department Pat Tonks (pictured) was duly dispatched to Japan with up-to-date news from home for each man, obtained in just two days by SSAFA representatives around the country. In Northern Ireland many families were forced to leave their homes when the troubles began in 1968, and it was SSAFA workers who tramped on foot through the riot areas to locate the loved ones of worried men serving around the world with the British Forces. And there was a similar rapid response when violence erupted in Cyprus in 1974. As 14,000 dependents were flown back to the UK one SSAFA Sister was recalled from leave and was back at work within hours, while SSAFA escorts were on duty at Paddington Station day and night to help families with young children. The outbreak of the Falklands conflict in 1982 tested SSAFA’s committed volunteer network once again. Each announcement of British losses brought floods of enquiries from relatives seeking reassurance and as the names of the injured and fallen were released a team at SSAFA Central Office briefed local representatives all over Britain to ensure that nearly every widow of the 237 men lost was visited and offered support. In 2006 it was SSAFA staff and volunteers in Cyprus who were on hand to meet the


thousands of British families fleeing wartorn Lebanon. The combined support team of SSAFA healthcare and social work professionals and volunteers was led by Annie Webber, who said at the time: “We were in a position to provide support, so we did. So far we’ve helped approximately 4,500 people who have been evacuated to Cyprus on the next stage of their journey back to the UK. Many people have arrived with nothing, not even the shoes on their feet.” And just last year, when the thousands of goodwill parcels sent to troops on operations were causing the MoD a logistical problem, it was SSAFA they turned to for help. The sheer volume of parcels meant the mailing

system was swamped. Priority has to be given to parcels from family members and too much mail necessitates extra flights and convoys into already dangerous areas. Through the Operational Welfare Fund, a joint initiative, we were able to tap into public support to purchase items that really helped to improve the quality of life for those on the frontline in Afghanistan. To date thousands of pounds worth of gym equipment, DVDs, computer games and portable film projectors have been sent out to British troops. Through the course of 125 years SSAFA has worked hard to meet the unique challenges created by Service life. The Association has adapted to meet changing needs over three centuries but has always managed to stay true to the original ideals of its founder and significantly, has always been able to rely on its own army of dedicated volunteers. l

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children’s holidays

a family holiday Our children’s activity breaks benefit those that stay at home as well as those that go away.


ur activity holidays for children with additional needs provide an exciting opportunity for young people to challenge themselves, make friends and build their confidence in a safe and secure environment. But the breaks are much more than that for some parents. They offer a welcome respite and the opportunity for mums and dads to spend quality time with their other children, safe in the knowledge that their child is being well cared for. Here, mum Rachel Meerwald, describes how she and son Harvey spent their week while her eldest son George, nine, was on the SSAFA holiday in Devon in August. Monday Bliss! Was able to have an afternoon nap while my father-in-law had Harvey – I get a lot of broken sleep at home. In the evening went to the cinema! Tuesday Harvey and I went on the bus to town and wandered around the shops. Saturday Decided to look round Stonehenge on the way home from Exmoor – was able to listen to the audio tour and everything! Not really an option when George is trying to run off!

Sunday George’s brother Harvey also has autism – when I’m alone I don’t go out with the two of them as they both should be in a buggy in unfamiliar places. Harvey and I went to Guildford Castle grounds to listen to a band. George and Harvey (like any brothers) tend to wind each other up so just having the two together you need to be vigilant in case fights break out. It was nice to be able to relax at home after seeing the band and just read a book while Harvey played in the garden. George doesn’t really like me reading much – I think he thinks my hands belong to him!

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Wednesday Trip to the playground with Harvey, then a visit to my brother’s house for tea. It’s been a relaxing week, my father-in-law has had Harvey for me a few times so I’ve been able to visit friends. I can’t do this when the boys are here, as the nature of both boys’ autism means that they can clash quite badly. I have had a lovely week, thanks so much for giving George this opportunity. He looked so happy when I left I’m sure he’s enjoyed himself!” l

If you would like to find out more about the 2012 holidays, or would like to volunteer, please contact the Holiday Leader, Alan Robertson on 020 7463 9343 or email



125 celebrations SSAFA Forces Help has been celebrating its 125th anniversary in style. Helped by our friends and volunteers, this year has seen some wonderful and memorable events.

The Big Jump

Toddlers’ fundraising assault course, Kent

Go-Carting Cadets, Northolt

Hawker 125

Cleveland Branch concert

To see what is happening for the rest of the year visit


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custody scheme

kent custody scheme A local initiative with Kent Police is designed to help veterans in the criminal justice system.


SAFA Forces Help’s Kent Branch has recently joined forces with Kent Police in an attempt to support former servicemen and women who have been taken into custody. The scheme uses the police custody system to identify people with a Forces background who may need help and offers them information about SSAFA Forces Help and other relevant organisations. On leaving custody, people are now asked: “Are you, or were you a member of the Armed Forces and, if so, would you like help from Service charities?” If they answer yes, they are given a police referral leaflet that includes details for SSAFA Forces Help in Kent. The brains behind the project is Detective Constable Colin Back, a SSAFA volunteer himself who previously served with the Royal Corps of Transport. Colin had to persuade his superiors that the scheme could potentially reduce repeat offending by using organisations like SSAFA to help resolve underlying behavioural problems related to Service life. Kent Police has adapted its custody computer system to ask detained people if they have served in the Forces. “I thought it might be about 30 former servicemen a month coming through the custody suites,” said Colin, ”but we got 22 in the first day.” Chief Inspector Paul Anderson is in charge of all the custody suites within Kent. “We cannot interfere with the criminal

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justice system but it benefits everyone if we can prevent an individual from committing further crime. “One additional benefit of the scheme is that it captures accurate, verifiable data on the numbers of ex-servicemen and women who are getting into trouble with the police. Previously there has been a lot of speculation about the figures but I really did not expect the figures to be as high as they turned out,” commented Paul. Neil Payne, Divisional Secretary at SSAFA’s White Cliffs and Romney Marsh Division said: “Being in the military can be hard but it is often adjusting to civilian life that can cause real problems. This initiative is a simple yet effective way of identifying those who might be in need of assistance and signposting them to appropriate help and support.” Other police forces, including Cheshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire, North Wales, and the British Transport Police, have shown interest in the project. l l In just three months, between April and July, 367 former and current servicemen were arrested in Kent – an average of four a day – the most common identifiable reason was violent crime, followed by drunkenness, criminal damage and drug misuse. l The majority were men aged between 18 and 29-years-old and almost half were unemployed.


The Gibraltar In-Service Committee raised funds for this incredibly successful inflatable to support young people and families learning to swim.

Members of the SSAFA Support Group for the Families of Injured Service Personnel enjoyed a cycle ride along the Crab and Winkle route between Canterbury and Whitstable in Kent on Sunday 12th September. The ride raised money and awareness of the group.

In July, a collection outside York Racecourse raised £6,600 for the North Yorkshire Branch. This surpassed last year’s collection of £2,361.

Local awareness was raised and more than £430 collected by the Shropshire Branch at their County Show in June.


The Western Europe Children’s Holiday took place at Centerparcs - Bispinger Heide in July. Including children with additional needs and disabilities, siblings and young carers, 33 children and 44 adults had a wonderful week. Pictured are some of the volunteers at a bowling night.

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volunteer news

St Vincents hosted a visit from 22 Signal Regiment, who were on the Isle of Wight for an adventure training weekend. The Home organised a ‘burger and beer’ bbq which was enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic (in aid of the SSAFA WE Children’s Holiday) took place at Hopp House, Hohne, on the 4th June. Special events and stalls made it an enjoyable afternoon for both teddies and their families.

The Somerset Branch’s stand at the Taunton Flower Show raised £2,000. Activities during the day included a SSAFA Ted raffle, as well as running the bar and a retiring collection at the accompanying Prom in the evening.

Rory O’Connor, SSAFA’s General manager in Cyprus, managed to ‘persuade’ eight other people to join him on the ‘Mountain to Sea’ Mountain Bike Race in Cyprus. The route followed difficult terrain from Platres in the Trodos Mountains to Pissouri.

SSAFA has its own floral display at Victoria Park in Stafford. It was officially unveiled by HM Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire and SSAFA Branch President, Sir James Hawley.

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Scottish Service of Celebration SSAFA125 events are taking place around the country, including a splendid service in Edinburgh.


n late May it was the turn of St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of SSAFA Forces Help. Co-ordinated by the local In-Service Committee, including the Reverend Nicki McNelly, a former member of staff at SSAFA, the largest ecclesiastical building in Scotland provided a fitting venue for the event. The service was conducted by the Chaplain General, the Venerable Stephen Robbins, and the packed congregation enjoyed a selection of music from the cathedral choir and organist, the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Lowland Band and Pipes and Drums of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The day finished with a garden party and entertainment with a suitably Scottish flavour from the Pipes and Dancers of Queen Victoria School in Dunblane. l


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the final word...

...from the Controller We are now well into the second half of our anniversary year and it is only right that we take some time to reflect on all that SSAFA Forces Help has achieved during its long and illustrious 125 year history. The Association has provided an immeasurable amount of support to our Forces since Colonel Sir James Gildea observed that “no greater responsibility rests upon men and women than the care of the wives and families of their soldiers and sailors”.

will need to remain agile and light on our feet to meet whatever challenges lie ahead.

But 2010 must also be about looking forward. We do so at a time of some change and also some uncertainty. Since I last wrote, we have seen a new government, and a coalition at that, take office. We will shortly welcome a new head of the Armed Forces, and I am delighted that he has spoken to us in this edition of News and Views. But the background to both of these changes is one of financial uncertainty and a less than settled future.

Our people remain at the heart of everything we do and it has been great to see so many of our volunteers during recent months. The in-Service Conference in London and our Branch workshops at Wyboston Lakes were both great successes.

It is also clear that British involvement in the war in Afghanistan will continue for a number of years at least. We will continue to support those who have been affected by this war and other recent conflicts, both now and during the challenging years ahead. Throughout all of this, we should remember that the Association has always thrived when times have been difficult. We news & views winter 10/11

We are delighted to welcome our new National Chairman, General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue. Never before, I suspect, have we needed such a firm hand on the tiller at the right time and that time is now. He brings with him tremendous business acumen, a clear analytical vision of what is wanted and the determination to drive it through.

I know that I speak on behalf of the Chairman and the Trustees in thanking you for your very hard work. There is no let-up in the need for SSAFA’s help and the evidence for that lies in the continuing ‘straight line’ of the number of cases we support every year. What you do is of inestimable value. Thank you.


“At a time that was really hard for me and my family, SSAFA were a huge help. It’s such a relief to have the likes of SSAFA Norton House there to house the families of the soldiers and to have their support.”

Royal Marine Andy Grant had just six weeks left of his tour in Afghanistan when he was hit by a bomb explosion. The blast smashed his right leg, severed his femoral artery and caused shrapnel wounds to his whole body. Throughout the difficult weeks and months that followed, SSAFA Forces Help was there for Andy and his family, providing them with vital support when they needed it most. 020 7403 8783

News & Views Winter 2010 - SSAFA Forces Help  
News & Views Winter 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...