Yesterday, on Wednesday 23rd October, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall graciously hosted our 75thAnniversary Royal Reception at Buckingham Palace. In attendance were 140 guests including our President General Sir Mike Jackson, our Chairman Philip Jones and ambassadors Andy Reid, Barney Gillespie, Brenda Hale, Stewart Harris, Sarah Adams, Al Hodgson and Bob Semple.
We were honoured to have Her Royal Highness host our Royal Reception in this celebratory year for our charity. The Duchess of Cornwall also spoke with a some of our ambassadors within the White Drawing Room.
Ambassador Al Hodgson said: “What an amazing evening with The Duchess coming to grace us at Buckingham Palace. It is an absolute honour to be there as an ambassador for The Soldiers’ Charity.”
Ambassador Stewart Harris commented: “To be an ambassador is one thing, but to be invited to Buckingham Palace for the 75th anniversary Royal Reception is something really special. It is great to share it with friends and family and the people who work so hard around the clock to ensure everyone within the Armed Forces are looked after. It’s another reason why I’m such a proud ambassador.”
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is the daughter of Major Bruce Shand MC who served with distinction in the Second World War with the 12th Lancers. Her speech is as follows:
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a huge pleasure to welcome you to Buckingham Palace today to celebrate the 75thanniversary of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. I should like, first, to pass on the warmest wishes of your Patron, Her Majesty The Queen.
As many of you will know, the charity was formed by the War Cabinet in 1944, shortly before D-Day. It was originally known as “The Fund for the Soldier”. Its aim was to ensure the millions of soldiers returning from the War received the welfare support that had been so sorely lacking for those returning home in 1918. As The Times noted, the Fund had “an object none can question because the soldier is what it’s all about”.
As the proud daughter of a highly decorated World War II Cavalry Officer, I salute this wholehearted focus on the soldier that has carried you through the past 75 years. The charity’s central purpose and relevance have not changed over the passage of time: you continue to work to allow soldiers, veterans and their immediate families to live lives of independence and dignity, now and in the future.
Just as the Nation owed a debt to all those who served in the Second World War, so we continue to owe a debt to those who serve our country today. I am therefore particularly delighted to see several of the charity’s beneficiaries here this evening, and I look forward to meeting them shortly. Of course, none of your work would be possible without The Soldiers’ Charity’s enthusiastic supporters, staff and volunteers, so I should like to thank and congratulate you all for everything you do to ensure the soldier is still what it’s all about.