Charity thoughts from Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity
Back in 1946, when Field Marshal Montgomery launched the Charity’s first ever public appeal, all he asked was for everyone to give one Shilling – around £3.50 in today’s money. This fundraising ask was quite simple; donate some money and help the Charity.
Fast forward seventy-one years and the ways and depths of today’s fundraising activity has reached heights that Monty could have never envisaged. Many of our supporters are pushing themselves to new extremes, and some even setting new records, to joining the ‘Fundraising Army’ for the Charity.
During January this year, five Army Reservists became the first British team ever to cross 1,100 miles of Antarctica, unsupported. One of the team, Ollie Stoten, at the age of 26 became the youngest person to cross the continent unaided. Not only was the record-breaking trek a real test of their mettle, it was also a fundraiser for the Charity, with the team aiming to raise £100,000.
When soldier Chris Graham was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and medically discharged from the Army, he was determined to not let the disease stop him from taking on one of his life’s ambitions – cycling 16,000 miles around the coasts of America and Canada on his own. His fundraising ‘Dementia Adventure’ saw him tackle freezing roads and snow drifts in Alaska, wild animals on the dusty American plains, and boiling temperatures in the Southern deserts. His adventure took just over eight months to complete, with him getting home just in time for Christmas. Not one to sit on his laurels, Chris is now planning to run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in a new fundraising challenge.
Veteran Les Binns, who lost the sight in one eye due to an IED explosion whilst serving in Afghanistan, last year attempted to climb Mount Everest but abandoned the effort 500 metres from the summit to save the life of a fellow climber. This selfless act denied him the chance of conquering the world’s biggest mountain, for now. Later this year Les will attempt a second climb of Everest, raising money for the Charity along the way.
There are countless other examples of the lengths the Charity’s supporters are going to in the effort to raise money: the skydiving Chelsea Pensioner; the Atlantic Row duo, Marathon des Sables runners; 100 Peaks challengers, the list is as long as the miles they cover. What is common for all these fundraisers is the passion they all have for the Charity.
Whether they are soldiers or veterans themselves – and many are – or family members or friends of those who have served, every single one raises money for the Charity because they truly want to help those who have served. This is something of which even Monty would be proud.