Throughout this extraordinary year, I have found myself looking to the charity’s past as we confront a troubling and uncertain future. We were established in the penultimate year of World War Two to provide a lifetime of support to serving and former soldiers and their families. Now, as we contend with ‘Lockdown 2’ and the damaging long-term impact of the pandemic, these governing principles provide a source of strength and comfort. Whatever storms lie ahead, we remain steadfast in our continuing ability to support the Army and its people.
It would be remiss to share a November update without mentioning Remembrance, which felt very different to us all this year. The annual March Past the Cenotaph did not take place and we recognise that this will have been deeply disappointing for all those in the regimental and corps charities and associations who were due to take part. For the first time, our President, General Sir James Everard, laid a wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and all the regimental and corps charities and associations.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”
Your support continues to make a lasting difference to the Army family. Our Grants & Welfare office remains operational and effective, having awarded £1.5m in grants to 1,850 individuals and families since the beginning of the financial year. This includes a recent grant for bathroom adaptations for a National Service veteran who survived polio as a child, ensuring he can remain safely and comfortably in his own home.
With your help, we have also awarded £1.8m to 20 charities and organisations since April. This includes RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity, which received a £267,000 funding boost towards its Ex-Forces Programme. The programme offers comprehensive training and employment support to veterans and reservists across the British Isles. Find out more.
Podcast: Their Story is on Their Chest
Discover untold tales of service and sacrifice in our new five-part podcast series, ‘Their Story is on Their Chest’, which charts the evolution of the military medal from the Civil War to World War Two.
Released in honour of Remembrance Sunday, the podcast series, presented by Antiques Roadshow’s arms and militaria expert Mark Smith, is our way of paying tribute to those who are gone, but will never be forgotten. Listen now.
Footsteps of the Fallen: Vern’s Story
“My great-uncle Harry Wells was killed at the Second Battle of Le Cateau in 1918. When the family received news of his death, a single tear ran down my great-grandfather’s face.”
Vern’s 26-year career in the Royal Artillery was cut short by a roadside bomb in 2005. 13 years on, he joined The Frontline Walk as a historian, which later marked a turning point in his battle with PTSD.
Read Vern’s story in The Frontline Walk book, which celebrates our annual 100km walk across the battlefields of the Western Front. Illustrated with images and maps, the book reveals the key battles and personal stories of those who fought at the Somme and Passchendaele, over a century ago.
Explore our Early Early Christmas Virtual Fair
You can now enjoy the magic of our Early Early Christmas Fair from the comfort of your own home. For the first time in its 28-year history, the flagship event has moved online, with a dedicated website hosting over 160 independent stalls. From food and homeware to stunning accessories, the fair is the perfect way to get ahead on your Christmas shopping while supporting soldiers, veterans and their families.
Simply use the code “EECVF” at the checkout on each stallholder’s website to secure unique discounts and a 10% donation to our charity. Due to high demand, the event will run until 1st January 2021. Shop now.
Thank you for enabling us to fulfil our promise of being here for soldiers, for life.
Martin Rutledge CB OBE
Chief Executive, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity