Age UK London works for and with all older people across London. This year for Armistice Day, we wanted to hear from charities that work directly with London veterans and their families. This piece was written by Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff at ABF The Soldiers’ Charity – the Army’s National Charity. Find out more about their work here.
On November 11th the nation takes a moment to remember those who have sacrificed so much in service of the country. It’s important that we also honour our living veterans, many of whom are older people and may require special assistance from friends, family or charities such as ours.
Veterans like 97-year-old Robbie Clark, who was a Prisoner of War for three years during World War Two. He required help with funding for carers so he could stay in his North London home of 40 years. Robbie had given more than most in his service so it is only right that The Soldiers’ Charity was there for him.
On Remembrance, Robbie reflects: “I don’t need a day to remember the people who died. They are the people that won the war, not us. You can’t do any more than sacrifice your life, can you?”
Giving these older veterans the dignity they deserve in the latter years is one of the core values of our Charity. We spend more than 10% of our charitable grants on ensuring that veterans receive the assistance they need: be it fixing a faulty boiler or providing a stair lift, we are there for them whenever they need us.
Les Fryatt, a 93-year-old D-Day veteran has shared his South London home with his wife Jeanette, 83, for more than 30 years. Les has problems with his knees meaning he found getting in and out of the bath difficult. As with Robbie, this left Les and Jeanette facing the prospect of leaving their home. The Soldiers’ Charity was there to help Les with a walk-in bath, meaning they both could stay where they were. In their own home.
Les and Jeanette still take time to remember our veterans. “On Armistice day, you stop to remember who you lost,” Les said. “We were once on a bus that stopped at 11.00am on the Sunday so the driver could pay his respects,” Jeanette added, “and people were moaning ‘why have we stopped…’ and it made me so cross. We always take time out to remember.”
It’s not just the veterans that we help either. The wider Army family can include wives like Jeanette, widows, children or grandchildren. It may also be other charities that provide help to veterans; our scope is far and wide. The Soldiers’ Charity makes sure it remembers all those still alive as well as those who have sacrificed their lives on Remembrance Day.