Thursday, 23 September 2010

Heartfelt Thanks for RAF personnel: past and present

Flight Lieutenant Marc Heal
Photography by Adrian Brooks
The RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force’s leading welfare charity, presented a vast collection of messages of thanks to service personnel, past and present, on Sunday 19th September to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The ‘Heartfelt Thanks’ campaign gives people the opportunity to express their gratitude to the RAF for its defence of the country in the summer of 1940, and to recognise the ongoing commitment of current RAF serving personnel.

Messages from members of the public have been collected at RAF Benevolent Fund events throughout the summer, as well as online. Celebrities including Stephen Fry, Sir David Jason, Dawn French, Dan Snow, Joanna Lumley and Sophie Dahl have also contributed messages to express their appreciation.
Battle of Britain Wing Commander Bob Foster
Wing Commander Bob Foster, 90, who flew 50-60 sorties in the Battle and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his bravery, says he’s very touched by the public’s support:

"I'm overwhelmed by how many people have taken the time to write messages as part of the RAF Benevolent Fund's Heartfelt Thanks campaign. It's a real sign of appreciation to the whole of the RAF, not just to those of us who fought in the Battle of Britain, but to all the men and women who have served since and are currently serving. I have read some incredibly moving tributes - one card was signed by a little boy of just five - and I can tell you that it's very humbling to see such a display of gratitude on the 70th anniversary of the Battle."

Flight Lieutenant Marc Heal, 30, is a Chinook helicopter pilot based at RAF Odiham who received the DFC for service in Afghanistan. He explains what it means to be thanked:

“Those of us serving in the RAF know that people are grateful for the work that we do, but to see it written in their own words is incredibly moving. It’s a small thing to say ‘thank you’ but it means a great deal and I think people’s words of support will be a great inspiration for anyone who’s ever served, from the oldest veteran to the youngest cadet.”

To take part in the ‘Heartfelt Thanks’ campaign, leave a message of thanks online.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Changes to campaign medals criteria

The Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan
(Picture: Andy Cargill ABIPP, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009)

Hundreds more British Servicemen and women will receive operational campaign medals under new plans announced by the MOD in August.

At present, members of the Armed Forces who serve for 30 continuous days qualify for Iraq and Afghanistan campaign medals.

Following a review, those who have served for an aggregate period of 45 days are also now eligible. These changes will be backdated to the start of both operations - 11 September 2001 for Afghanistan and 20 January 2003 for Iraq.

Examples of Service personnel who could now be eligible include members of the aeromedical evacuation teams who accompany injured patients back to the UK.

Under the new plans, personnel who deploy for short periods of time will be allowed to build up accrued days to achieve an aggregate qualifying period of 45 days' service.

If you believe you may be eligible, then contact the MOD Medal Office.

Its all change at Veterans WORLD

Issue 17 with the new look

The latest issue of Veterans WORLD is now online.  You'll notice that we have changed the overall look of the magazine but we'll still telling you about the help and advice available to ex-Service personnel and their families, just in a different way!  It's now a  28 page A4-sized publication and its jam-packed with news items or features about organisations, projects and services that are there to help.

Our first 'new' issue
The front cover is dedicated to the 125th anniversary of SSAFA and inside the issue, we tell you how this Service charity is marking its anniversary with a number of fundraising events.  We now also have some regular features - an SPVA news page; providing updates from our Agency and a noticeboard section where we will provide information on  a new or improved website providing advice and support.  On our feature pages we tell you about: a new initiative using Football to improve health and well-being for younger veterans, how The Beacon Scheme is creating employment opportunities and a retrospective looked at Armed Forces Day 2010 and plans for next year's event.  That's just a brief overview, so take a look at the issue and find out more.

We also also released a new podcast interview with Laurie Manton, Editor-in-Chief of Veterans WORLD where Don Goldie quizzes him of the revamp and future plans.

We're also increasing the frequency to four issues per year, but don't worry each new issue will be blogged or tweeted about, so you won't miss a copy!

If you are an organisation providing help and support to ex-Service personnel and their families, please consider submitting an article to us for consideration at the Veterans WORLD email.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Coming soon

Location filming for the next SPVA video

We're busy working on new social media products that we be releasing over the next few months leading up to Christmas, so just wanted to keep you posted on things to come.

There are podcasts planned on the new issue of Veterans WORLD (due out in the next couple of weeks), the continuing search for relatives of those killed at Fromelles and an interview with Jenny Green to discuss the Cruse Project which is supporting bereaved military families.

We've also got a new video in production, explaining the work of the Historical Casualty Casework Team which we will be posting on our YouTube channel and placing on our website in the next couple of months.

Keep an eye on our Social Media Hub for our new releases. Don't forget you can also follow us on Twitter and keep updated on news from SPVA.

Honouring the promise

 Ilford Park is based at Stover, near Newton Abbot in Devon, on the borders of the Dartmoor National Park

Described as the 'Little Poland in the heart of Devon', the Ilford Park Polish Home still upholds a promise made by Winston Churchill, following the Second World War, to recognise the sacrifice of the Polish people who fought under British Command or who had been held in Labour Camps. Poland was the fourth largest contributor to the Allied effort in Europe by the end of the War.

After the War, 130,000 Polish nationals came to this country under the terms of the 1947 Polish Resettlement Act. Residential camps, 46 in total, were created to house them. Only one remains open today - The Ilford Park Polish Home.

The Home no longer resembles the original camp after a re-build in the nineties. It now provides 81 residential and 14 nursing beds with five sheltered bungalows. A priority for the Home is to maintain links with Poland; so there is a Polish shop with a wide variety of Polish food on sale, residents also have access to Polish Television and Community teas are held each month where entertainment is traditional Polish songs.

Today, the Home, run by SPVA, continues to provide residential and nursing care to people who qualify for admission under the Act.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Home you can find further information on our website or listen to our podcast interview with Clare Thomas who manages the home.

So until the next post Do Widzenia!