Help get our Veterans to their Awards Ceremony!
3 of our Veterans are finalists in the English Veterans Awards in September. We need your help to get them there for the Awards Ceremony.
They are all veterans and all volunteer for Veterans in Communities to support ex-services personnel and their families, and help them return, belong and prosper in the community.
Here are their stories:
Steve Butterworth, Finalist in Role Model of the Year Award
Steve served in the Royal Navy for 7 years as an Able Seaman, seeing service during the Falklands War.
He now works 20 hours per week at Veterans in Communities as a Project Worker. However, he regularly volunteers an additional 30 hours per month supporting other members and running projects.
Steve’s personal life is not without its difficulties
- He has complex PTSD which he manages through his various artistic endeavours and by volunteering for VIC and other charities and projects
- This has also affected his physical health leading to over 2 years of physical symptoms of stress including shingles, migraines, urinary tract infections and bladder problems
- Steve also has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Last year Steve’s daughter gave birth to twins who were extremely premature. Life for them was touch and go to begin with and various health crises have arisen since then. Steve was his daughter’s mainstay through all of this, providing transport, a shoulder to cry on, liaising with medical staff, looking after 1 twin whilst the other was ill.
He is also active in his local community as a volunteer and in spreading a positive message about ex-service personnel
- In 2018 he planned, organised and implemented the Rammy Rocks: Ramsbottom Peace Memorial 1918 – 2018 Project.
- He delivered 3 Saturday workshops at the tearooms in Nuttall Park, Ramsbottom, showing and assisting both children and adults in creating remembrance rocks
- In addition Steve visited 3 local primary schools to give talks on Remembrance and deliver rock painting sessions.
- Steve used his artistic talents to design the Memorial in Nuttall Park.
- He secured funding to cover some of the costs of the project.
- A local driveway company was approached by Steve and they provided the resin to set the memorial free of charge.
- The Memorial was unveiled on 4th November 2018 during a ceremony planned and arranged by Steve.
- Thanks to his volunteering and commitment, Ramsbottom now has a lasting monument to the armed forces.
Steve contributes positively to so many different communities, and they all benefit from his talents, skill, knowledge and commitment.
Liz Davies, Finalist in Volunteer of the Year Award
Liz served for 5 years in the Royal Air Force. For the past 3 years Liz has been a volunteer for Veterans in Communities:
- As a volunteer outreach worker in Heywood Middleton and Rochdale, identifying and supporting veterans
- 2 years ago she set up the weekly Sandbag Café, a drop-in coffee morning in Heywood
- Organises the Sandbag Café each week, including refreshments, volunteer drivers for veterans with mobility difficulties, speakers, and activities
- Organises trips of interest for Sandbag Café members
- Set up and supports the Sandbag Café Committee
- Supports individual VIC members with various issues
- Helps individuals access statutory services and specialised services where appropriate
- Provides support to veterans outside of the Sandbag Café, including taking them to health appointments and helping them access other services
- Promotes VIC and awareness of veterans to others at information stands and events
- Liz recognised that some of the members would be lonely and isolated over the Christmas and New Year period. To combat this she organised a New Year’s Day brunch, expecting approximately 7 or 8 to attend. On the day 48 people attended and spent time together at what can be a very difficult period on your own.
- Volunteers at least 5 hours per week
Life is not easy for Liz and her constant commitment and dedication is even more praiseworthy given her personal circumstances:
- Liz’s daughter has Cystic Fibrosis and last year was in hospital in a critical condition with liver and kidney failure for over 2 months. Liz continued to run the Sandbag Café and volunteer on top of daily visits to see her daughter that meant a 60 mile round trip.
- During the time Liz has volunteered her Dad died and Mum went into a residential home. Liz visited everyday up until her death. Despite these personal losses Liz has continued to volunteer with passion and enthusiasm.
Darren Horsnell, Finalist in Community Award
Darren served for 9 years as part of 4th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, seeing service in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Belize and Germany. He is now living with PTSD, having been injured during the Falklands War and in the bombing of the Woolwich Barracks in the early 1980’s. He found that art therapy was the best strategy in dealing with his PTSD and it was this that led him into volunteering.
Darren is a core volunteer with Veterans in Communities (VIC). His volunteer role supports ex-service personnel in their transition to the local community as well as spreading a positive message to the wider community:
- Co-ordinates all art and craft activities
- Runs the twice weekly Art Group
- Provides peer support to other members
- Voluntarily runs two weekend art painting classes each month, the proceeds of which go to the charity
- Teaching art as a means of improving mental wellbeing
- Raising awareness of the charity and what it
- Raising funds for the organisation so that more veterans can be helped
- Arranges exhibitions to promote the Art Group, VIC and the members as well as selling paintings and prints
- Sources and sells VIC promotional clothing
- Acts as a caseworker for other members
- Provides office cover and greets visitors
- Volunteers at least 25 hours per week
He has successfully overcome a number of personal challenges including
- Becoming homeless following the onset of PTSD and Dissociative Disorder and sleeping in his car for a number of months
- Workplace injuries which left him as a wheelchair user. Darren successfully taught himself to walk again
- PTSD leading to self harm
- Living with a degenerative spinal condition that causes great pain, but which he does not allow to interfere with his volunteering
In addition to volunteering with VIC, Darren runs a weekly art class in a local sheltered accommodation scheme, open to all residents regardless of art skill or experience
Set up the Veterans’ Arts Organisation on Facebook, sharing and supporting veterans with their art in various mediums
The money raised will help offset costs of attending the Awards Ceremony; tickets, travel, accommodation. Any donations over our target will be used by Veterans in Communities as unrestricted donations to continue providing services to our members.