Years ago I asked Jack Dee’s late manager if Jack would come to Iraq and entertain the troops with me. Jack’s manager said, “we don’t do anything for the British Military, no offence.” I realised that I was the only famous television name that was entertaining our forces. CSE used to put the shows on, they no longer exist because they have been replaced by the charity that I formed, the British Forces Foundation. It was impossible to find artists of the younger generation to entertain “our blokes.” The troops were sick to death of seeing me, I’m sure. I once asked to go back to the Falkland Islands and they said, “thanks Jim, but we’d rather have the Argentinians back!”
Help for Heroes changed all that. Before Bryn and his wife put the charity together, soldiers would not walk the streets in their uniforms. People would look at our forces in a political manner. As did Jack Dee’s manager and his team of new comedy stars. Help for Heroes changed all that. Help for Heroes made us realise that our troops were people to be proud of and people we should support.
I imagine all the other charities must have sh*t themselves and thought, “oh my god, there goes our funding!” Robert Robson from RNRMC made a very valid point while we were discussing Help for Heroes and its domination of the military charity market. He said, “a rising tide floats all boats.” And it has. More people are now giving to more military charities than ever.
I believe that there are far too many military charities and, ironically, Care after Combat is one of the newest. However, we are all working very hard to find a way to work together and not overlap. It’s easy for us, because at Care after Combat we do drink, drugs and prisons. We have to rely on other charities to help us with the bits that we don’t do. One thing I have noticed is that all the military charities are very passionate and precious about what they do and are reluctant to share the burden. We must all work together and we must all support Help for Heroes because if it wasn’t for them, the military charity world would be a sadder place.
By Jim Davidson OBE, Chairman