Soldiering On Awards 2016
We were delighted to attend the Soldiering On awards ceremony at the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster on Friday 22nd April. Bit of a change from our usual Friday nights. Peter Glover, our military advocate working for seAp's Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire team had been nominated for a 'Family Values' award and we were there to support him. Everyone in seAp is so proud that Peter had been nominated, and Marie Casey (CEO) and I tagged along with Peter and his partner Julie to cheer him on.
It was a very special night celebrating the contribution that former Service men and women make in their community. The comperes were Jeremy Vine of BBC and Vicki Michelle who may be familiar to fans of 'Allo 'Allo! as the French waitress Yvette, and other famous faces joined them on stage to present awards.
It turned out that Family Values was the first award to be presented so we didn’t have to sit on the edge of our seats for very long to find out if Peter had won. All the nominees in Peter’s category was very inspirational and, Ann Kadiri from Aylesbury Royal British Legion was a very deserving winner. We know the team there and regularly link in with them so it was nice to know the 'competition'. We were all able to congratulate Ann their volunteer.
As the evening unfolded, we were able to relax and enjoy the ceremony. We were inspired and amazed at the achievements of some of the nominees in the other categories which included servicemen and women overcoming life-changing injuries to achieve sporting excellence or giving something back to their communities and their fellow veterans. Some of the nominees had worked their whole lives supporting the services and the awards were very hard won and the winners incredibly humble. seAp was the only organisation in the room that wasn't an exclusive veterans or service charity which made Peter's nomination all the more remarkable. The most popular award was the Canine Partner Award and the nominees got the biggest cheer when they came up on stage, tails wagging like fury.
We face challenges ahead with funding for the military advocacy service still not confirmed for the coming year. We are hoping that we have done enough to convince the Royal British Legion to continue to support the work that Peter and the two recently recruited volunteers that support him are doing. We know our service users appreciate what the service gives them - the evidence being that five of them came forward and completed the nomination forms for the Soldiering On awards! In the current climate we are trying everything we can to look at alternative ways of raising funds to enable the service to continue. We have had some positive expressions of support from local corporations that we approached and hope that this will translate into some additional funding to enable the service to continue and to also grow to meet the demand. Even though Peter didn't come away from the event with a gong he is a winner in our eyes for the dedication he has shown to his clients and the difference he has made to their lives that is so appreciated by them.