Richmond veteran John Jeffries has thanked the National Lottery for providing 25 year of funding to help veterans.
John is one of the thousands of veterans across the UK that have benefitted from the £339 million raised by National Lottery players for veterans since the first draw in 1994.
John, 94, joined The Royal Signals in 1941.
He saw active service in Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Italy before joining the Parachute Regiment. As a young man John did many jumps in active service before his jump into Arnhem on the 18th September 1944 where he was shot by a sniper and was wounded in action.
He was captured and taken prisoner before escaping.
The veteran goes back to Arnhem each year with the help of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, which is supported by the National Lottery.
Since 1948, the charity has organised free trips for veterans ranging from days out at the seaside to pilgrimages to WWII sites.
John recognises the life-changing difference these National Lottery funded projects can have on veterans.
He said: “I think the taxi charity is wonderful. They treat us so well and the care we receive is first class
“The trips they organise are very important to me as it means I am able to go and pay my respects to my fallen friends and all those who sacrificed their lives in battle so they are remembered and never forgotten.
“They also organise and provide great days out where we can be there for each other and for people without family these outings provide a lifeline to friendship and companionship. I am indebted to the men and women of the taxi charity for all they do.
“I wish to thank the National Lottery for supporting projects like the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans as it means so much and is so important to so many people and to wish you a very happy 25th birthday.”
The charity was formed in a pub by a group of taxi drivers determined to do something for World War II veterans.
They organised a free outing to Worthing and have been running them every year since.
“The number of cabs grew as times got better and the momentum built,” said Ian Parsons, the chairman of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans.
“In more recent years we’ve expanded and done trips to Normandy, the Netherlands, Belgium and other destinations in the UK.”
Ian says support from the National Lottery has played an important part in the charity’s evolution. “When we won the National Lottery Award in 2016 it was fabulous,” he said.
“The money we won was helpful of course, but it was the publicity that really helped us in the long term. It raised our profile and gave us a platform we’d never really had before.”
Nationally £339 million raised by National Lottery players has helped fund 28,703 projects supporting veterans from across the UK.
This includes counselling services, support to visit locations where they served, free taxi services and drop in centres.
As well as supporting recent leavers with civilian life, £27.4 million has been awarded in 19,422 grants for commemorative visits where veterans, widows and carers have been able to visit the battlefields where they or their loved ones served.
In Yorkshire & Humberside alone, £10,196,756 has helped support 1,987 veteran-related projects across the region.
Dawn Austwick, CEO, The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “It’s truly inspiring to see the difference that National Lottery funding has made to the lives of these people who have served their country, and are now returning back to civilian life, which is no easy feat.
“It’s fantastic that every time someone buys a National Lottery ticket, they’re helping support the men and women who have given so much.”