The Jubilee Appeal for Commonwealth Veterans will run throughout 2002. The purpose of the Appeal is to raise £5 million to help those from the Commonwealth who served the Crown and are now in need.
Currently there are 25,000 beneficiaries – however research undertaken by members of the British Commonwealth Ex-Services League (BCEL) in Commonwealth countries, indicates that this number is likely to be increased by five times to around 125,000, in the next few years. This is because of the increasing age and frailty of so many.
BCEL was driven by the sharp increase in demand on the now dwindling resources to set up the Jubilee Appeal. The last major fundraising campaign was held in 1989 as The Prince Philip Appeal for Commonwealth Veterans. This raised £3 million. Since then their work has been funded by its dwindling investments, by contributions from member ex-service organisations and by private donations. There has been no major annual appeal as with so many other charities. The majority of the help given is for basic food and shelter. In some areas BCEL struggles to provide even a minimum level of subsistence being only 20 meals a month. In addition, where possible, it helps with healthcare.
What made 5 million people from the Commonwealth volunteer to fight the Second World War alongside the 6 million British Forces? Who were these people and what motivated them? They were people who believed in freedom and were happy to fight alongside the ‘mother country’ to make this World a safer place.
They weren’t called up. They didn’t have to join us. They chose to.
They came from all over the Commonwealth, a million from Canada; 2.5 million from the Indian sub-continent; from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, the Far East and from across Africa.