Tuesday, December 02, 2008


In today's Brigg Extra page in the Scunthorpe Telegraph we report how Brigg Town Council has agreed to make a £50 donation to the Army Benevolent Fund, after considering an appeal for help from Major General Sir Evelyn Webb Carter KCVO OBE, the fund’s controller.
You will have to make your own mind up about whether, like me, you think it’s a sad indictment of the way things are run in Britain today when charitable donations have to be sought from town councils up and down the country to care for our brave boys and girls who have served their country in uniform.
Here’s the full text of the General’s letter, explaining why Brigg’s money is needed, and what it will help to provide.

Dear Mayor and Mayoress (Coun Mike and Ann Campion)

I am writing to you at a time of considerable concern here at the Army Benevolent Fund.
Please allow me to explain. The casualty figures from the Army's operations in Afghanistan make for very sobering reading, every week seeming to bring news of further attacks on soldiers.
My concern about the possibility of such a casualty rate led me to set up our Current Operations Fund, to support soldiers injured or families of those killed as a result of their Service during the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and in future operations.
As Controller of the ABF it is precisely at times like this that I have to keep a sharp eye on where we are headed, what we are managing to achieve, and the resources we require in order to meet the need — both current and future. It is as a result of this sort of review that I am writing to you today.
My fear is that the continuing stream of casualties, from Afghanistan in particular, will place an even greater call on our 'war chest' than I envisaged. There are the physically injured we know about, but there are also the mental scars that we do not yet know about. Whilst soldiers remain in the Army they are well looked after. But it is when they leave, at some time in the future, that their problems will arise and they will need help.
My concern is that it will be no use asking for help in ten years' time, when I believe the need will really bite, because, unlike the Falkland’s Campaign, most of us will wish to forget our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, we must prepare now to cope with the needs of the future as well as the needs of today.
Otherwise, I am extremely concerned that we may not be able to help those members of the Army family who come forward to ask for help, both immediately and in the years to come.
I am therefore asking you today to enable us to meet this increasing need. Such a request is not made lightly and I have asked some members of the Army family to help me to give a fuller picture than can be given by my own letter.
For instance, I have enclosed a letter from Colonel Stuart Tootal. Colonel Tootal commanded the Third Battalion the Parachute Regiment on their deployment to Afghanistan in 2006. The Battalion served with distinction in Helmand Province. However, over the course of their service, 14 soldiers were killed, and 46 more were wounded, many of them gravely. Acting in the finest Army tradition of standing up for his men, Colonel Tootal wanted to get the very best of care for every one of those who had been wounded, and to ensure that families were supported in their time of need.
One such soldier was Sergeant Paddy Caldwell, shot by the Taliban whilst directing mortar fire in Sangin, Helmand. An AK47 bullet passed through his neck, severely injuring his spine and leaving him paralysed, with limited muscle and nerve function below the site of his injury.
Paddy made a magnificent recovery, driving himself through a punishing regime of physiotherapy and through sheer determination getting to the point where he was well enough to accept the Battalion’s offer of a job in 3 PARA's Welfare Office.
Colonel Tootal knew that Paddy wouldn’t ask for help for himself, so he contacted the ABF on his behalf. This brave soldier desperately needed an adapted vehicle so that he could be driven safely by his fiancee to work. But the cost of such a car was well beyond his means. It looked as if all his hard work to continue an Army career was going to be in vain. I am delighted to report that the ABF was able to swing into action and get Paddy on the road.
The men and women who are bravely serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere deserve to know that help — prompt, sufficient and respectful — is there when they or their families need to call upon it. I am resolute that the ABF should be able to provide such assistance; however, as the enclosed memo from our Director of Grants and Welfare shows, we are predicting a very considerable increase in the demand on our resources. A gift from you today will go straight to work for the members of the Army who need it:

£30 for example, could contribute towards the cost of an adapted vehicle for a soldier wounded in action.

£60 could help us to support the family of a soldier killed in action — giving them the ability to cope with financial hardship.

£90 could help to cover the costs of retraining for a soldier invalided out of the Army who wants to embark on a new career.

With many thanks for your past support of the Fund.

Yours sincerely,

Major General Sir Evelyn Webb Carter KCVO OBE

1 comment:

Ken Harrison said...

Nigel - I have every sympathy for any injured service personnel and I certainly do not want to devalue any attempt to gain extra sponsorship for an Bene. Fund - whether army, RN or RAF....BUT I am confused by Major Gen Sir E offers the specific example of Sgt Paddy. Obviously, Sgt Paddy is severely disabled and to me would automatically qualify for a free car (insurance, tax and servicing included) under the Mobility Scheme. Car exchange every 3 years. Car can be driven by disabled person, or nominated person on behalf of such a person.
So why does Major Gen Sir E seem to believe that the ABF should supply him a vehicle - this seems like a poor allocation of funds as the ABF is paying for something that Sgt P would otherwise get free. Any answers?