We’ll never for­get them

Lancashire Life - - SUCCESSFUL WOMEN -

A char­ity pro­vid­ing in­jured ser­vice per­son­nel with life-af­firm­ing ex­pe­ri­ences has pas­sion­ate sup­port­ers in Lan­cashire. ROGER BOR­RELL spoke to one of them

They say an elephant never for­gets and that is why it is the per­fect sym­bol for an or­gan­i­sa­tion that not only re­mem­bers ex-ser­vice men and women who bear phys­i­cal and men­tal scars, but also pro­vides them with prac­ti­cal help and lifeaf­firm­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

The Not For­got­ten as­so­ci­a­tion was set up af­ter World War One by Amer­i­can opera star Marta Cun­ning­ham. Dur­ing a tour of Britain she was ap­palled at shame­ful treat­ment of ca­su­al­ties from the trenches, many hid­den away and ignored in hos­pi­tals. She de­cided to do something about it and the char­ity was born.

That pas­sion for help­ing exser­vice per­son­nel continues to burn and nowhere more brightly than in Lan­cashire. Cros­ton busi­ness­man Graeme Bar­low,

along with fam­ily, friends and col­leagues, has raised more than £200,000 for this and other north west char­i­ties.

It is a cause that has deep mean­ing for him. Graeme is ex-army and spent two years in North­ern Ire­land with the Royal Army Vet­eri­nary Corps work­ing with snif­fer dogs to seek out ex­plo­sives. While he came through with­out any phys­i­cal in­juries, he saw com­rades killed and se­verely in­jured.

Graeme and his fam­ily be­came reg­u­lar fundrais­ers for var­i­ous char­i­ties but af­ter one event that brought in £18,000 he de­cided to follow in Marta Cun­ning­ham’s

foot­steps and place the money with the Not For­got­ten as­so­ci­a­tion.

The char­ity doesn’t hand out cash but pro­vides recreation, leisure and en­ter­tain­ment for any vet­eran with a dis­abil­ity, ill­ness or in­fir­mity, what­ever the cause. This help can come in many forms – from be­ing in­vited to high pro­file events like a Royal garden party to sim­ply be­ing bought a much­needed new tele­vi­sion. Their motto ‘From Com­rade­ship to Chal­lenge’ is de­signed to show the va­ri­ety and breadth of the sup­port of­fered. Some of the ac­tiv­i­ties pro­vide a phys­i­cal chal­lenge and the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop self-con­fi­dence. A prime ex­am­ple is an an­nual trip paid for by Graeme, who most re­cently took 20 in­jured vet­er­ans on a week-long break at a coun­try house on the Scot­tish is­land of Jura. The trip in­volved a packed pro­gramme of coun­try pur­suits – from clay pi­geon shoot­ing to over­land hikes. ‘It was a week of good fun and great com­pany but we couldn’t do this with­out the sup­port of my wife, Nicky, and our friends Chris and Sharon Livesey,’ said Graeme, whose children Katy, Jack and Jes­sica also help dur­ing the trips.

Dur­ing the Jura visit, at­tended by the char­ity’s na­tional chair­man David Cow­ley OBE, guests were able to try out a World War One Lee En­field 303 ri­fle which Graeme and his friend Chris had pur­chased. The first to fire it on the trip was a for­mer Royal Ma­rine sniper.

Once they have its full his­tory, it will be auc­tioned off in 2020, the char­ity’s cen­te­nary year.

‘Al­though I left the forces some 26 years ago, the wel­fare of ex-ser­vice peo­ple is still close to my heart and it’s good to feel the sense of com­rade­ship on these trips,’ said Graeme, who runs the fam­ily firm of Bar­low Trail­ers with his broth­ers. They sup­ply trail­ers and parts across the UK.’

‘We all really en­joy help­ing these lads, who are ap­pre­cia­tive and well-man­nered. It’s a fan­tas­tic char­ity. While they don’t hand out cash, the peo­ple they help go on amaz­ing jour­neys they’ll never for­get.

‘There was a ski­ing trip to Colorado and we re­cently climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro.

One man, Welsh Guards­man Al Roberts, com­pleted it de­spite be­ing a dou­ble am­putee who lost his legs af­ter be­ing the vic­tim of an IED. It was worth ev­ery ounce of ef­fort just to see the look on his face when he got to the top.’

You can find out more about the char­ity at www.nfas­so­ci­a­tion. org or, if you want to get in­volved lo­cally, Graeme can be con­tacted through Bar­low Trail­ers. www.bar­low­trail­ers. co.uk.

‘It was worth ev­ery ounce of ef­fort just to see the look on his face when he got to the top’

Katy Bar­low on the ri­fle range

Al Roberts on the clay pi­geon shoot­ing range

Guests and sup­port­ers with David Cow­ley OBE hold­ing the Lee En­field 303. Graeme Bar­low is stand­ing, sec­ond from the left

ABOVE: A trophy pre­sen­ta­tion for the best shots

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.