Veteran backs Help for Heroes collection

Veteran and Help for Heroes model-making volunteer Paul Metcalfe, left, with Robin Ellwood.

An RAF veteran has given his support to a collection by Help for Heroes which will take place at Tesco in Catterick Garrison this weekend.

It comes after Help for Heroes has in recent years helped injured veteran Robin Ellwood, 68, from Darlington.

He said: “After such a difficult year, it is great that we can once again be welcomed into Tesco stores to raise money for veterans with mental or psychological injuries.

“It’s exciting that our volunteers are able to fundraise in person again, and we hope that anyone in Catterick Garrison on 26 or 27 June remembers those who have been wounded as a result of serving their country by popping into the Tesco store and donating as much, or as little, as they can.

“Every pound can make a genuine difference.”

Like the majority of the charity’s fundraising initiatives last year, the Tesco National Collection for Help for Heroes had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Help for Heroes says it relies on the generosity of the public for the majority of its funding and saw a loss of approximately 75 per cent to its income from national collections during 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Robin, a former air photography operator, was medically discharged after badly dislocating his knee in service and now struggles to walk.

He has been a regular at Help for Heroes’ new Friday morning model making sessions held at St Aidan’s church hall in Catterick Garrison since Covid restrictions have eased.

“It has been a life-line.

“To walk in and see so many familiar faces and just be accepted without question has been fantastic.

“I’ve also really enjoyed Help for Heroes’ online photography course as it has encouraged me to get out of the house and explore new places,” he explained.

While the former senior aircraftsman did not travel all over the world in the RAF, he did during his second career as an actor and performer.

He competed in the European Living Statue Championships and studied the art of Kyogen a form of traditional Japanese theatre in Kyoto as well as appearing in TV’s Byker Grove and the first two series of Wire in the Blood.

“I’ve always enjoyed interacting with people and I’m thrilled to be able to do that again in person through Help for Heroes.

“My injury led to depression over my RAF career being cut short and what could have been.

“When I woke up each day, I knew I would be in pain every single hour. A friend encouraged me to reach out to Help for Heroes and I want to do the same for others. It’s never too late,” he added.

Help for Heroes volunteers will be in store between on both June 26 an 27 and are looking forward to greeting Tesco customers who have been so generous to the charity during the previous six National Collections, with £1.4m having been raised to date at these events.

Anyone who would like to donate to support our Heroes on Armed Forces Day but is unable to visit a Tesco store can still donate via the QR code below or by visiting https://gtap.uk/62/tes211.