The Falkands Veterans Foundation

Falkland Islands Newsletter
Edition No.88, March 2005

In 1982, Argentina seized the Falkland Islands, overwhelming a tiny garrison of British Royal Marines. The ensuing month saw the dispatch of the largest British task force since the Second World War. Against considerable odds they took back the Falklands - a decisive moment in Falkland and British history.

Fifteen years on, veterans of the Falklands held a reunion in Gosport organised largely by one man, Derek Cole, who was on HMS Intrepid in 1982. In 2002, Derek also organised a 20th anniversary event. It lasted two days and Lady Thatcher and Sir Rex Hunt attended as well as some 2,000 veterans. It was a huge success and a credit to the hard work of Derek and a loyal band of helpers. One was Colin Waite who built a website to promote the reunion.

Derek and Colin became great friends and discussed what more could be done for veterans and their families. They decided to set up a charity focusing on this. After much thought, they named it the Falklands Veterans Foundation, or FVF for short. Its aims are to support veterans and their families and to work closely with all other charities and organisations concerned with the welfare of Falklands War veterans.

Setting it up as a registered charity took months. On November 6th, 2002, it was done - charity number 11094950. The trustees are Simon Weston OBE, Jim Davidson OBE and Mike Osman. Derek became Chief Executive. The FVF is also recognised as a charity in the Falklands.  The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mrs Mary Fagin JP, opened the FVF office in Gosport on November 7th, 2003. This is on the ground floor of the Gosport Conservative Association, the FVF's landlord - and the FVF thank them for their support.

The hardest part for any charity is to be recognised, and to raise funds for its goals. This was easier for the FVF thanks to Derek's own expertise and business, Clubline Promotions, and through the help and support of people such as Les and Lynn Heyhoe. They and many other loyal helpers have worked tirelessly to raise funds for the FVF.  The shining light for the FVF has been those dedicated people who still make up the British Armed Forces, who have dug deep into their pockets for this cause over the last two years - along with the general public, many of whom still remember the sacrifice made by the troops in 1982.

The charity's web site, www.fvf.org.uk, has information about the FVF and all fund raising events. The main target for 2005 is raising the money to build a house in Stanley on land about to be leased to the FVF by the Falkland Islands Government. This will be used by visiting veterans and their families. It's a monumental task. The FVF hopes this will allow many more veterans to lay to rest the ghosts which still haunt them.

Colin Waite told the Newsletter: "As with all veterans our thoughts are always with those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and with the people of the Falkland Islands."

The FVF welcomes enquiries and support from all those who share its aims. It may be contacted at: The Falklands Veterans Foundation, 167 Stoke Road, Gosport, Hants. PO12 1SE. 
Tel. 02392 511582 
Website www.fvf.org.uk  
Email info@fvf.org.uk 

Freedom of Gosport granted to Veterans

Peter Pepper

Veterans of the Falklands War have received the Freedom of Gosport.  150 veterans returned on Wednesday, August 24, to the town on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour, the place from where many Task Force ships sailed in 1982 to liberate the Falklands.  This time the veterans were there for a happier occasion - to receive the Freedom of Gosport from the Mayor, Councillor Graham Burgess.  The entire Council of Gosport, the Royal British Legion, the Gurkhas, and many veteran families and other supporters took part in the ceremony.  The 17 Port and Maritime Regiment of the Royal Logistics Corps formed the Guard of Honour in the wet weather, which did nothing to dampen spirits.

The ceremony began in Falklands Gardens overlooking the harbour with a service conducted by the Reverend Peter Sutton, Chaplain to the Mayor.  They sang three hymns, Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven, He Who Would Valiant Be and Eternal Father Strong To Save.  Fallen comrades were remembered in the prayers.

Councillor Burgess presented the Freedom scroll to the Falklands Veterans Foundation (FVF), which is based in Gosport, and declared the Freedom to be for all veterans.  He praised the FVF for its eminent services to the Borough, and to Falklands veterans and their families.  He remembered and acknowledged all those who took part in the campaign and especially their families, who, he said, also had made "tremendous sacrifices in a war that was a fight for freedom against tyranny".  Derek Cole, Chief Executive and co-founder of the FVF, and a Petty Officer on board HMS Intrepid during the war, accepted this - again on behalf of all veterans - and Colin Waite, the other co-founder of the FVF, then delivered the acceptance speech.

The ceremony ended with a blessing, the General Salute, and the National Anthem.  Spectators applauded as the veterans, members of the British Legion and the Guard of Honour all marched through Gosport High Street.  They were led by two Scottish pipers from the Rose and Thistle band, and the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas.  The salute was taken by the Mayor, accompanied on the dais by Rear Admiral Jeremy Larken, DSO, Captain of HMS Fearless in 1982 and by Lady Fieldhouse, widow of Lord Fieldhouse of Gosport, Commander-in-Chief in 1982.

Afterwards everyone attended a lively reunion in a marquee in Walpole Park.  Organisers said they were grateful to the Falkland Islands Company and the Horace Moore Charitable Trust for supporting the event.

First published in the Penguin News on 2 September 2005 and reproduced by kind permission of the Editor

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