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Veterans' Issues

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Newsletter

Please follow link below to our latest newsletter:

Newsletter Spring 2012

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70th Anniversary of George Cross to Malta

The Maltese Culture Movement in the UK are marking the 70th anniversary of the awarding of the George Cross to Malta with a service and Maltese fair on Saturday 14th April 2012. There will be a service at 11 am at The Sacred Heart of Jesus & St Peter tyhe Apostle, 356 London Road, Waterlooville, Hampshire, PO7 7SR. Any who have served in Malta, or those with a relationship with the military history are welcome to attend.

 

The Great Manx Challenge - He Did It!!!

 

It hurt – but what an achievement.....

If you don't know what I am talking about – our director, Simon Lamb, recently took part in a charity pursuit bike ride around the Isle of Man TT Course against a team of Royal Marines and in aid of the Special Boat Service Association.

Below is his account of the day

(donations are still being accepted)

 

Well organised, great people and a very emotional hill!

We actually performed very well against the Royal Marine Poole Team arriving at the base of the mountain climb just outside Ramsey at the 26 mile point with them just finishing the 8 mile climb. As a result we were not lapped and could have done another 26 miles before being caught – which incidentally would have been the start of our second attempt at the hill and their third. At that point, we would have all given in!!!

The organisation was brilliant, Police involved and a car at the front and back of each team. We actually prepared the bikes in the Isle of Man TT pit lane, which is a permanent fixture, starting across the actual start line.

Whilst we were the amateurs, there were some experienced bikers and a couple of very quick guys in the team. The TT course is very undulating with the first real hill coming at about 10 miles - which I found difficult but manageable and at that point we agreed to split into 2 groups; 2 women and a civilian amputee who were finding the hills slow to the rear, and the rest at the front. Well in my month of preparation, I have never ridden so quickly but arrived in Ramsey feeling just about OK. What I hadn't realised is that the 8 mile climb up the mountain actually starts in the town, no gentle lead in, no visual clues, you just come round a corner and there it is, uphill constantly for the next 8 miles. And the first 2 miles are the steepest, taking in the notorious Hairpin and the Mountain Mile. Having had to stop for traffic lights in the town, I was slightly detached but came across one of our team at this point, hunched over his bike wheezing! So I did the honourable thing and stopped. We then biked and walked together up the steep 2 miles. I have to say that I struggled massively at this point, energy expended and lactic acid in the legs.

Fortunately my daysack was in the following car and I had chance to use the energy gels, have a banana and drink. The gels kick in after about 10 minutes and by that time we were just cresting the steep bit with only another 6 miles of climb to go. The transformation was huge and we cracked on at a pace to be met by our quicker riders coming back down to find us. I then got what cycling is all about – we rode as a peloton with the better riders shielding against the wind and we achieved a cracking pace up the mountain. Energy restored and mind back on track, I actually enjoyed the climb to the summit!

And then different challenges as you begin the descent – two miles down a very steep straight hill. We were clocked by the following car at over 50mph – which was interesting. Do I brake and chicken out or just go for it – well you have to don't you.

So, no real soreness, a few aches and pains but all in one piece. It was great to meet and ride with some fantastic people, we raised over £10,000 for the Special Boat Service Association and riding the Isle of Man TT Course on a bicycle was an awesome experience.

 

 

 

The Challenge was made ...

The question was innocuous enough – “would you like to join me on a bike ride?” So asked my old friend, and I thought it was a lovely idea to ride through the countryside with him one afternoon. And it was for charity! Only when I had committed myself to joining him was it revealed that the gentle pedal was in reality a pursuit race around the Isle of Man, on the TT Course, and we were racing Team Marine! So the training has begun.

The two teams in the race are Team Marine from RM Poole, and our totally amateur and under-exercised team from “Challenge4Ben” which was established in memory of Royal Marine Benjamin Poole who tragically died on 28 th July 2008. Team Challenge4Ben includes Ben's family, friends and supporters, whilst Team Marine is made up of both serving and retired personnel, together with servicemen wounded in action, some of whom are amputees.

Team Marine aims to lap Team Challenge4Ben and the distance Team Challenge4Ben has completed before being caught on the 37.75 mile course is the distance for which sponsorship is being sought.

The event will take place on Friday 30th September 2011 and if anyone would like to sponsor this aging Pongo, it will be greatly appreciated. Donations can be made to us here with all proceeds going to the SBSA, supporting men and families from the Special Boat Service.

 

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Newsletter

Please follow link below to our latest newsletter:

Newsletter Summer 2011

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English Heritage Appeals for Memories to mark 70th Anniversary of the Dunkirk Evacuation

Were you one of the 338,000 troops plucked to safety from the Dunkirk beaches 70 years ago during the dramatic ten-day evacuation masterminded from the Secret Wartime Tunnels hidden deep below Dover Castle ? 

In a major project to capture first hand memories of these dark and desperate days of war – before it is too late – English Heritage has launched a nationwide search for veterans and those who played a part in the rescue mission, which became known as ‘the miracle of Dunkirk'.

From those who risked their own lives to sail the 920-strong fleet of Royal Navy ships, commercial vessels and ‘little ships' – fishing boats, cabin cruisers and the like - in the perilous evacuation, to the women who filled countless sandwiches to welcome home the exhausted troops, English Heritage is seeking personal accounts which will to bring this pivotal wartime event to life…and keep it forever…for future generations. 

Their recollections will form the backbone of a new exhibition which opens in 2011 in the Secret Wartime Tunnels, headquarters of Vice Admiral Bertram Home Ramsay, who directed the complex and dangerous evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo. 

“Sadly time is running out for us to get first hand accounts of these desperate days when the situation for our troops seemed hopeless and the threat of invasion by Germany was very real. The evacuation of Dunkirk is one of history's most significant and moving events and remains a symbol of pulling through against tremendous odds and achieving the unachievable – the rescue of 338,000 troops in just ten days,” said Senior English Heritage historian Paul Pattison.

English Heritage has placed advertisements in national and regional press around the country to track down as many people as possible to tell their stories. And a Memory Box - a video recording booth - opens at the Secret Wartime Tunnel complex on Friday May 28, to start a week of events and activities marking the anniversary at Dover Castle .

The Memory Box will be in place at Dover Castle throughout the year to collect personal experiences and recollections for use in the new exhibition, which will give future visitors a more detailed and intimate insight into Operation Dynamo and its impact on the war and those who lived through it. Those unable to visit in person can record their memories online at www.english-heritage.org.uk/dunkirk

Some of those contacting English Heritage with their stories will also be invited to attend a commemorative service at the castle on Friday June 4, the final day of the rescue mission, when wreaths will be laid at the statue of Admiral Ramsay which looks across the English Channel towards France .

Those with a story to tell about the Dunkirk evacuation – or people who hold accounts passed down in letters or diaries from relatives or friends through the generations - are also urged to visit Dover Castle to record them in the Memory Box.

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Newsletter

Please follow link below to our latest newsletter:

Newsletter Spring 10 - 1

Newsletter Spring 10 - 2

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Lottery Funding to help veterans return to Civvy Street

Army veterans are to receive lottery funding to help ease the transition from military to civilian life.

The Big Lottery Fund will launch its Forces in Mind programme with £35m.

It intends to establish an independent trust to provide long-term support for those who served in conflicts including Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf War.

Experts say returning to "Civvy Street" can lead to issues such as depression, family trauma, substance misuse, homelessness and in some cases suicide.

While the money has been allocated, it has not yet been decided exactly how it will be spent.

The fund said it had been consulting with service and ex-service organisations to help identify where it can best meet the needs of bodies supporting veterans and their families.

But it said it would be looking to assist existing organisations which help veterans in areas such as housing, employment, training, personal finances, homelessness and mental health.

It also aims to fund research into issues affecting ex-service people.

The chairman of the Big Lottery Fund, Sir Clive Booth, said: "For some the after-effects of making the transition from a career in the forces do not always present themselves in an obvious way or even immediately.

"Supporting organisations that can make a real difference to the reintegration into civilian life of the men and women who have served their country is a real and pressing priority for us."

About 19,000 service personnel return to civilian life each year and it is estimated that there are about five million veterans in the UK.

The Big Lottery Fund distributes profits from the National Lottery to good causes and projects.

It has already provided funding for older veterans, but Sir Clive said: "Now we want to also focus on more recent veterans and their families, including returnees from Iraq and Afghanistan, by putting in place this long-term support."

 

This article was taken from BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8554383.stm

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Britain's WWI Survivors

 

Claude Stanley Choules was thought to be the last living WWI veteran, until the recent discovery of an ex WRAF found to be living in the UK. Mr Choules was a seaman from World War I, and is the last veteran in the world to have served in both World Wars.  At the age of 108 and living in Perth, Australia, he is also the last veteran in Australia.  When discovering this fact about himself last year, he shrugged it off, telling an Australian Newspaper: "Everything comes to those who wait...and wait."

Born in Pershore in March, 1901 Claude "Chuckles" Choules served with the Royal Navy after joining the HMS Impregnable in 1916 aged 15.  Despite a 41 year career that spanned both Word Wars and despite serving on HMS Revenge, witnessing the surrender of the German Imperial Navy (1918) and the scuttling of the fleet in Scapa Flow, Choules describes war as "mostly very tedious, puctuated by moments of extreme danger."

In 1926 he was seconded to the Australian Navy and remained in the force for 30 years before retiring.  Still, he always told his children that , although war had moments of drama and terror, it was boring for most of the time.  Mr Choules was believed to be the last surviving WWI veteran until recently, when Florence Green was brought to light by a British correspondent for the United States-based Gerontology Research Group.  Mrs Green is also 108 and, being born in February 1901 takes the title of oldest WWI veteran.  Florence Green served in the WRAF in 1918 as a waitress in the officers' mess during the war and, although she did not see the front line action, the charity Veterans Aid said that she qualifies as a veteran of the war.

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Newsletter

Please follow link below to our latest newsletter:

Newsletter Winter 09 - 1

Newsletter Winter 09 - 2

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Petition

10th December 2009

We have recently received word of a new campaign to recognise and dedicate a statue in Trafalgar Square for all those that served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If you wish to sign this petition please follow the link below.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/TributeToForces/

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Priority Treatment Guidelines for Those in Receipt of a War Pension

8th December 2009

Priority healthcare for Veterans has always been an issue for ex-service organisations and whilst there is no new policy from the MOD, the current NHS position has recently been clarified. A comprehensive pamphlet, produced in conjunction with the Royal British Legion is available to read and download by following the link below.

Meeting the Healthcare Needs of Veterans in England

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Newsletter

Please follow link below to our latest newsletter:

Newsletter Autumn 09 - 1

Newsletter Autumn 09 - 2

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Goodbye Henry

1 August 2009

 

A bit of sad news as we say goodbye to our oldest member Henry Allingham. Mr Allingham died in his sleep at his home on 18 th July this year. At 113 he was the oldest ever British male and was declared the world's oldest man earlier this year.

 

Mr Allingham was the last surviving member of the RAF founders, the last man to have witnessed the Battle of Jutland and the last surviving member of the Royal Naval Air Service. He was the face of the First World War Veterans Association and made frequent public appearances to ensure that awareness of the death and destruction of WWI was not lost to modern generations. He received many honours and awards for his First World War services and his longevity.

 

He attributed his long life to “cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women”. Souds like our kind of veteran!

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Bevin Boys Badge

10 April 2008

Men who were conscripted directly into the mines, those who opted for mine work in preference to joining the Armed Forces, or those who were in the Armed Forces and volunteered to become miners during the period 1943-1948 were known as Bevin Boys.

The Bevin Boys scheme was introduced in 1943 by the then Minister for Labour and National Service, Ernest Bevin. The scheme ran between 1943 and 1948 and involved recruiting men to work in coal mines during and immediately following World War II.

A badge, similar to the Veterans Badge, is available to all surviving Bevin Boys and formally recognises their work in the UK coalfields during and immediately after World War II. The badge can only be issued posthumously to the widows of men who died on or after 20 June 2007 and fall into the above category. This Badge is sponsored by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and is currently being issued on a rolling basis.

The application form for the badge is now available and can be obtained by calling the Veterans-UK Helpline 0800 169 2277.

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100,000 War Veterans First In Line for Digital Hearing Aids

24 June 2007

Thousands of ex-servicemen and women who damaged their hearing serving their country will no longer have to face the ‘double insult' of not receiving a pension for their war injuries and then waiting up to two years for a digital hearing aid, thanks to a campaign by deafness charity RNID.

RNID, the national charity changing the world for the UK's 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people, estimates that more than 100,000 veterans celebrating Veterans Day last month (27 June 2007) should now get priority treatment for deafness caused by service, even if they don't get a pension for their condition.

Up until now, those with hearing loss below high government thresholds - 50 decibels in both ears - face NHS hearing aid queues of up to two years.

But a government statement in the House of Commons that all veterans will be given priority treatment for war disability is a great boost to all Veterans. 

RNID Chief Executive Dr John Low said: “Having a hearing loss of 50 decibels means that it's difficult to have a chat in a quiet room, listen to the television or hear your grandchildren. After serving their country and paying with their hearing, our veterans deserve better than the double insult of no disability pension and long hearing aid waiting times. Being first in line is the very least they deserve, and fantastic news for Veterans Day.  RNID is now calling on the government to ensure that all 100,000 heroes are informed of their rights.”

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Blair Departure Will Overshadow Veterans' Day

15 May 2007

This year's Veterans' Day, a national celebration designed to thank today's generation of ex-servicemen and women for their service to our country, will be overshadowed by the planned departure of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

 

Mr Blair announced his departure plans on Thursday 10 May, indicating that his last day in office would be Wednesday 27 June. This coincides with second official Veterans' Day introduced by this Government as a day to ensure that, on the 27 June each year, the nation recognises, understands and commemorates veterans' contribution to society. His departure and the appointment of his successor will inevitably be the lead story in the media and, as a result, ‘bury' any news about Veterans' Day.

 

Simon Lamb, Director of British Veterans Recognition Card, comments: “I find the decision by the Prime Minister to depart Number 10 on Veteran's Day to be grossly insensitive. No other country would instigate a national celebration of ex-servicemen and women one year and then deliberately overshadow it the next. There can only be one of two reasons for the clash of dates. Either the 27 th was selected without appreciating that it was Veterans' Day, which indicates a degree of incompetence by the Prime Minister's office, or it was selected in the knowledge that it was Veterans' Day and therefore staff understood the consequences to this national celebration. Either way it provides a clear indication of the importance that Mr Blair places on Veterans' Issues.”

 

The clash is somewhat ironic since it was Gordon Brown who announced the introduction of Veteran's Day, in a speech to The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 13 February 2006, in which he declared that: “Former servicemen and women will be presented with ‘medals' on 27 June to ensure their contribution was “never forgotten” and that veteran status is to be extended to those who have served in more recent conflicts.”

 

Mr Lamb continues: “The introduction of a Veterans' Day fitted neatly into a revised strategy for veterans issued last year by the Veterans' Policy Unit. It was broadly welcomed by ex-servicemen and women who make no demands but feel that their service to this country warrants greater recognition every day, not just on one day of the year. It seems that in this country, we exclude veterans from the Service community but find it difficult to acknowledge them as civilians. This clash of dates will be seen as a snub by many.”

 

-ends-

 

 

'Veterans Badges'

15 June 2007

We regularly receive requests for information about how to acquire a Veterans' Lapel Badge which, when launched, was being issued by the Veterans Agency to those who served in the two Great Wars. We have been informed that eligibility has now been widened to include those who served in the inter-war years and those who served between the end of WW2 and the 31st December 1994. To apply for a badge you will need to apply to the Veterans Agency and there are a number of ways to contact their office:

 

Free Helpline: 0800 169 2277

Overseas callers: +44 1253 866043

Email: help@veterans-uk.info

Write to:

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency

Norcross

Thornton-Cleveleys

Lancashire

FY5 3WP

Or download an application form from their website;

www.veterans-uk.info/vets_badge/vets_badge.htm

 

Veterans' Day Highlights 364 Days without Recognition

22 June 2006 - News Release

Next week sees the introduction of the first Veterans' Day, a national celebration designed to thank today's generation of ex-servicemen and women for their service to our country. Whilst it is meant to ensure that, on 27 June each year, the nation recognises, understands and commemorates veterans' contribution to society it will only serve to highlight the other 364 days without recognition.

 

At the end of their service, most men and women leave the Forces and successfully integrate back into civilian life. For all, the final act of handing in their identity card constitutes a complete severance from a unique way of life and a loss of identity. Some maintain contact with colleagues through the many ex-service associations and for the few who face difficulties, there is advice and support available from the many excellent ex-service charities. For the majority, however, a national Veterans' Day and a veterans' lapel badge will neither confer day to day recognition nor offer pro-active support.

 

Simon Lamb, Director of British Veterans Recognition Card, comments: “In this country we seem to exclude veterans from the Service community but find it difficult to acknowledge them as civilians. Our treatment of younger ex-servicemen and woman still lags well behind many other countries where service to their country actually means something. The obvious example is the United States where veterans receive daily recognition of their status but I was recently surprised to learn that veterans of the Nigerian Navy receive free priority health care for the rest of their lives. Society must understand that servicemen and women have agreed to put their life on the line for more than just one day and we owe them all a debt of gratitude. Why can't we give something back more often?”

 

The introduction of a Veterans' Day fits neatly into a revised strategy recently issued by the Veterans' Policy Unit. The announcement was made by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, in a speech to The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 13 February this year, in which he declared that: “Former servicemen and women will be presented with ‘medals' on 27 June to ensure their contribution was ‘never forgotten' and that veteran status is to be extended to those who have served in more recent conflicts.”

 

Mr Lamb continues: “We speak to many hundreds of veterans who make no demands but feel that their service to this country warrants greater recognition not just on one day, but on every day of the year. Whilst they acknowledge that this initiative announced by the Chancellor is a step in the right direction they believe much more can and should be done. University students seem to get better recognition in this country and it is not helped by Mr Brown talking about ‘extending veteran status' when this government has already defined the term ‘Veteran' to mean all those who have served in the UK Armed Forces whether Regular or Reserve.”

 

A new scheme, which recognises the commitment shown to their country by all ex-servicemen and women, has been acknowledged as a valuable addition to the support currently available to Veterans. The British Veterans Recognition Card, established because there was a demand for a card which was not being answered by the Ministry of Defence, acts as an “identity” card and also provides a range of important benefits. One of the early card holders, Colonel Bob Stewart, veteran of Bosnia said: “This card gives recognition to a special group of people, those who have served their country before themselves. I believe that all Veterans should be proud of their former service and be recognised for it. At the same time the card has the advantage of cutting down on the cost of living and helping to raise the quality of their lives.”