British Forces Foundation 2009

Christmas DVD for troops – December 25, 2009

Stars from stage, screen, sport, music and television joined forces with members of the British public and The British Forces Foundation to deliver a very special Christmas message to troops away from family and loved ones over the festive period.

Little Britain’s David Walliams and Matt Lucas, Sir MIchael Parkinson, Sir Alex Ferguson, The Saturdays, Johnny Wilkinson and Lulu were just some of those who sent their season’s greetings by way of the special BFF dvd which was included in all 23,000 UK4U gift boxes presented to servicemen and women in places like Afghanistan on Christmas Day.

The dvd proved a big hit with the troops who were especially touched to see so many famous people taking out time to support. One soldier wrote: “The magic and morale of the small red box I received from UK4U made a huge difference, not just on the day, but for the next three months of my tour.
“Whenever life got a bit hard, or the days seemed that bit tougher, I would watch the dvd with the messages from all the famous people and it would help me reach in and push myself that bit harder.
“So, thank you for all you have done and continue to do; it means more to those of us that serve than you can possibly imagine. Or perhaps, taking into account the effort you put in, you can.”

Aldershot Families Show – November 19, 2009

Families of those deployed on Operations were treated a special variety show organised by the Army Benevolent Fund in association with The British Forces Foundation.

Comedian Jimmy Carr compered the event at the Princes Hall Theatre in Aldershot which was attended by which was attended by wives, girlfriends and children of all ages from the Garrison.

There was something for everyone with music from the sensational 2008 X Factor finalist Ruth Lorenzo, the hottest new boy band Vice and solo artist Sean Rumsey.

Royal Variety star Andy Leach was a hit with his magical comedy act and so too were the amazing illusionists Tensai. There were more laughs from the TV comic and BFF stalwart Clive Cooper and a wonderful spectacle from the drumming act, and ex Paras, Double Tap.

Commander Aldershot Garrison, Colonel Tim Forster OBE, described the line-up as real quality with something for everyone. “Watching soldiers and their families leaving the Princes Hall was a real joy – they were visibly uplifted by the entertainment and by the access they had to the artists.

“I thought the manner in which the cast made themselves available to our families after the show was incredibly generous and hugely appreciated. For Jimmy Carr to make time to lead such a performance for our benefit is wonderful and shows what a great supporter he is of the Armed Forces.

“A massive thank you from the Garrison to The British Forces Foundation in conjunction with the Army Benevolent Fund for your support and great kindness – it really makes a difference at a time when much is being asked of our soldiers and their families.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Unit Welfare Officer of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, Captain Paul Downes, said: “The feedback from our family members who attended the event has been absolutely amazing and they were truly grateful, especially as their loved ones are currently deployed in Afghanistan.

“The stars were all very entertaining and afterwards more than willing to talk with the audience, sign autoggraphs and pose for photos. Our sincere thanks for organising such an outstanding show.”

Speaking about the idea behind the show, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, Controller of The Army Benevolent Fund, said: “The reason for this show is so we can publicly say how much we, as a charity, acknowledge that Armed Forces families’ welfare is vitally important to the overall well-being of all our Armed Services.

“We fully understand how difficult it is for those left behind when our servicemen and women deploy on Operations, and we want the families to know that they share our support and admiration as much as those on the frontline. The Army Benevolent Fund supports many welfare projects for families and will always continue to do so, and I urge everyone to take advantage of them.

“I am delighted to be working with The British Forces Foundation on this project and hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration for both charities, and I pass my thanks to Mark Cann and his team for assembling this great line-up of artistes and putting together an excellent show.”

Ben Fogle @ Headley Court – October 21, 2009

Writer, presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle is the latest inspirational figure to visit Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre as part of The BFF’s special project.

Given the positive response from staff and patients to Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson’s visit a few months ago, the Charity wanted to find someone else to go along and talk about the challenges they have taken on in the course of their career.

Ben, whose achievements include racing 160 miles across the Sahara desert in the notorious Marathon Des Sables, rowing the Atlantic Ocean in 49 days and, most recently, crossing Antarctica in a foot race to the South Pole (the first in 97 years, since the great Norwegian-British race between Amundsen and Scott), was an obvious choice.

His tour of the ward was followed by an inspirational talk to a full audience in the sports hall. He gave an extraordinary insight into overcoming adversity, particularly given that preparation had not always been ideal for a number of adventures.

The overriding theme that came across was that, regardless of conditions, the key factor in attacking each challenge had been an attitude of temperament and mindset that held fast to “finishing” rather than just “winning” as the primary objective.

Following his visit, Ben said: ‘It was an enormously humbling experience to meet real life heroes, men and women who have put their lives at risk in the line of duty.

“Nothing I have ever done, or will ever do, will compare with the brave stoicism of these young men and women. It was un utterly compelling, enlightening and inspiring visit.”

Show for Welsh Guards – October 12, 2009

Almost 600 soldiers of the Welsh Guards, who returned from a tough tour in Afghanistan just days before, were treated to a British Forces Foundation show to remember.

Katherine Jenkins (a BFF Trustee), Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones, The Saturdays and comedian Craig Campbell took to the stage at the Princes Hall Theatre in Aldershot – home of the Regiment.

It was a night of fantastic entertainment. Ruth Jones compered the evening and also teamed up with her Gavin & Stacey co-star Rob Brydon for a special performance of their number one hit Islands in the Stream.

Craig Campbell’s Canadian take on life in the UK went down a storm while the wonderful Katherine stole their hearts when she left the stage to go among the audience during her rendition of Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It For You.

The evening built to a climax with the superb comedy of Rob Brydon followed by a lively set from The Saturdays who are currently riding high in the charts with their latest hit.

At the end of the two-hour spectacular there was a standing ovation for the stars who had all given up their time for free in a show of appreciation and respect for the sacrifices the troops are prepared to make.

Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, Lt Col Charlie Antelme, was full of praise for the event. “We all absolutely loved it and, more importantly, it really makes the guys feel that they are appreciated – in itself a key element in the readjustment to the home front.

“The Welsh flavour of the evening was also perfect and I was so impressed by the extra effort of the artistes to get alongside our boys at the end of the show.”

The British Forces Foundation would like to thank Boeing, the Princes Hall in Aldershot and the Erach & Roshan Sadri Foundation for their fantastic support of the show which ensured the evening was a great success.

Mark Cann, Director of The British Forces Foundation said: “The servicemen and women face challenging circumstances on a daily basis when they are on operations and it’s fantastic that we’re able to show our appreciation and admiration through a fantastic evening of entertainment.”

Show for Selly Oak staff – October 9, 2009

Military and NHS staff at Selly Oak Hospital were thanked for their hard work and dedication with a special British Forces Foundation show.
Comedian Jimmy Carr was the surprise guest of the evening organised to thank all those who work at the hospital for their hard work and dedication.

The full line-up included the Charity’s Founder and Trustee Jim Davidson OBE, impressionist Rory Bremner and keyboard legend Rick Wakeman.

The show, which was a huge success, came about at the request of The British Forces Foundation’s Patron HRH The Prince of Wales to acknowledge the tremendous work of the hospital staff with military personnel injured on Operations.

Commanding Officer of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine Clinical Unit, Lt Col Carter, said: “The aim of providing a thank you to the NHS and military staff who look after injured and wounded Service personnel at Selly Oak and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals was fully achieved and the event was enormously well received by everybody.

“The truly unbelievable line-up served as evidence of the support that staff enjoy from the British people. Mission accomplished.”

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