The Not Forgotten Association (NFA) is a national tri-service charity which provides help and support to the serving wounded and the ex-service community with disabilities.
As a result of the growing number of younger, more active men and women who are eligible for their support, the NFA organizes surfing, skiing and other types of activity holidays. These aim to help the wounded, injured or sick to realize that they can take part in challenging activities and encourage them to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives. Sharing new experiences and learning new skills – opportunities which these men and women may not otherwise have had – helps to improve often fragile confidence and self-esteem.
The NFA surfing group in Cornwall.
Chief Executive of the NFA, Colonel Piers Storie-Pugh, says: 'The involvement of our Armed Forces in recent conflicts has reinforced the dangers of operational service and the continued need for our work. We believe that there may be as many as 200,000 men and women of all ages, both those who have served in recent conflicts and veterans of previous wars, who are entitled to benefit from our help.'
The 2012 programme of events follows an established pattern tailored to appeal to veterans of all wars and campaigns. Day outings include visits to Highgrove and Exbury Gardens, cricket at Lord’s and Hove, tennis at Wimbledon, rugby at Twickenham and horse racing at Ascot. There are holidays in Jersey and Majorca, battlefield tours to Normandy and Italy, sea fishing in Dorset and a racing day at Brands Hatch. For those who may be amputees but still want a personal challenge, activity holidays include a canoeing expedition in France and surfing in Cornwall, all with qualified experts.
All this is in addition to an extensive programme of concerts for residents in ex-service care homes, a series of Christmas lunches, several boat trips and the NFA’s two ‘flagship’ events for war pensioners and those receiving compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme: a summer Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and a Christmas Party at St James’s Palace.
NFA activity days bring together younger veterans with a Normandy vet.
Colonel Storie-Pugh added: 'For those who may be feeling vulnerable, isolated or depressed, our events and activities can bring a much needed boost and something to which they can look forward. Enjoying the company, banter and camaraderie of like-minded people with similar experiences can improve motivation, provide a feeling of belonging and give the opportunity to make new friends.'
Televisions and TV licences are provided to eligible beneficiaries who are essentially housebound, to service homes and, in association with Help for Heroes, to the new Personnel Recovery Centres. Individuals who may be eligible for such support are referred to the NFA by one of the service benevolent charities or their military association.
With just seven, mostly part-time staff, the NFA does not have its own fundraising programme. Instead it relies on the generosity and financial support of larger service benevolent charities such as The Royal British Legion and The Soldiers’ Charity, military and non-military grant-giving trusts, foundations, associations, corporate partners and individuals who recognize the value of its work.
Guests meeting the NFA's patron, HRH the Princess Royal.
The charity was founded in 1920 by American soprano Marta Cunningham CBE, who was singing at venues such as Claridges Hotel before the Great War. Her concern for the seriously wounded developed after a visit to a Ministry of Pensions hospital to see ‘listless men who took no notice of my coming or of my going. Were these really the young enthusiastic men who went to a Nation’s rescue?’ Soon she assembled a group of like-minded ladies who could entertain the soldiers. Calling themselves ‘The Not Forgotten Association’, the ladies approached HRH Princess Mary, later the Princess Royal, to be the Association’s first Royal Patron. The Princess attended the Not Forgotten Association’s first Christmas Party in the Royal Mews in 1921 and so was born the unique privilege which allows the Association to hold its annual Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and Christmas Party, now at St James’s Palace.
Colonel Storie-Pugh concluded: 'The ideals laid down by our founder Marta Cunningham are as relevant today as they ever were. I am utterly convinced of the benefits that our activities bring to thousands of such deserving service men and women.'