Now that the calendar ticks has ticked over into 2023, The Not Forgotten team have been taking stock of the twelve months just gone. A memorable year in so many ways, with big changes to our charity, alongside historic moments as a nation.
In 2022 The Not Forgotten…
- Hosted over 11,500 veterans and their partners at events, holidays and outings
- Performed concerts at 62 care homes nationwide
- Held 8 community concerts, 4 drive-in concerts, 3 afternoon teas and 10 Christmas Lunches, all over the UK
- Visited 11 branches of Waitrose from Godalming to Glasgow with our ‘Anyone for Tea’ double-decker bus – serving 2,640 cups of tea and seen by an estimated 120,000 drivers on the nation’s roads
- Took veterans as far afield as France, Jersey, Majorca, Israel and the USA
- Issued 111 TV licences, laptops and tablets to those isolated at home
- Was represented by 60 veterans at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph.
With international Covid restrictions finally easing we could, with huge relief, return to a more ‘normal’ year of event programming. In February and March two groups of beneficiaries headed out to Breckenridge in Colorado, USA for our popular skiing respite break. Meanwhile ‘behind the scenes’, we moved into our new offices at Buckingham Palace Road, and in February our Chief Executive, Brigadier James Stopford CBE, announced the end of his time at The Not Forgotten.
In April our seven-week-long tour of Care Home Concerts kicked off, with our beloved forces entertainer Annie Riley bringing music and joy to residents at 62 care homes around the country.
Travel far and wide continued with our innovative ‘Anyone for Tea’ tour in June. Sponsored by Waitrose, we drove a distinctively branded ‘Not Forgotten’ double-decker bus around 11 Waitrose branches from Godalming to Cardiff to Glasgow, serving tea, cake and entertainment to local people and offering a real boost to many isolated veterans around the UK.
May, of course, saw one of the highlights of the TNF calendar: the Buckingham Palace Garden Party. HRH The Princess Royal and Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence welcomed 2,200 of our beneficiaries and guests to the Palace grounds and took the time to meet and talk with many of them. In June we were given an incredible opportunity to fly a group to Israel to take part in The Veteran Games in June, competing and collaborating in sports from swimming to CrossFit.
On the sporting theme, throughout the year our days out to sports fixtures are always popular, and we were delighted to be able to take groups of veterans to rugby and cricket matches, a day at Centre Court at Wimbledon in June, the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park (Princess Anne’s Gloucestershire home) in August, and Ascot races in November where a race was named in our honour!
Across a summer of heatwaves we continued to deliver our busy events programme with a challenging but exhilarating white water canoeing trip in the French Alps in July, and a calmer day out carp fishing at the River Farm Fishery in Fareham, Hampshire.
In August, The Not Forgotten celebrated its 102nd birthday, and our adrenaline-filled Brands Hatch Track Day made its return, giving veterans the frankly unforgettable experience of being driven as passengers in top-of-the-range cars around the track at 180mph!
We were thankfully able to return in 2022 to running one of the mainstays of our programme, our respite breaks. Week-long trips took place to Jersey in June, France in June and September, Majorca in October, and Ashcombe, Devon in November.
With activities, relaxation and bonding, these unique holidays offer veterans and partners a wonderful escape from their daily struggles and can be truly life-changing, so we are thrilled to have them up and running again.
September saw the arrival of Richard Walker OBE as our new Chief Executive, and a busy month of events to greet him – more care home concerts, afternoon teas, The Orsett Show, the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships 27th Veterans Cruise, our second respite break to Maison 10 in France, and four wonderfully successful Drive-In Concerts around the UK.
In the midst of this, The Not Forgotten joined the rest of the nation in mourning the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 8th September. Her Majesty was a long-standing supporter of The Not Forgotten and intimately involved in the military throughout her life, so we were very moved in paying tribute to our remarkable monarch alongside many millions of others.
At the end of September, a group of four veterans plus our own Head of Events, Rosie, took part in the gruelling Marathon des Sables in Fuerteventura. This was just one of the many incredible fundraising initiatives and challenges that were completed by our beneficiaries and supporters during 2022, raising us vital funds. From the New York and London Marathons to classic car events, concert evenings, sponsored litter picks, Christmas raffles, and a 258-mile run in honour of the number of British lives lost in the Falklands conflict. Far too many to list here, but we are hugely grateful to every single one of you who fundraised for us in 2022.
In October we were proud to be the chosen charity for the British International Tattoo in Wrexham, and even prouder when Annie Riley, a familiar face to so many of you as our performer extraordinaire, who invests so much personally in The Not Forgotten every day, received a Best Magazine ‘Hero’ award for her dedication to our work.
Autumn didn’t dampen our busy programme with further respite breaks to Majorca and Ashcombe, Devon, a memorable trip to Bruce Crompton’s personal tank collection, rugby matches at Twickenham, and a moving day with 60 of our beneficiaries taking part in the Remembrance Sunday Parade at the Cenotaph.
December saw another highlight of our calendar, our Christmas Party at St James’s Palace, entertaining 168 veterans and their guests with afternoon tea, a spectacular showcase, and a visit from HRH The Duchess of Gloucester, who spent a long time talking to guests.
We then spread joy and festive entertainment right round the country on our Christmas Lunch tour of eleven venues, where guests from the young to centenarians joined in with turkey and all the trimmings, singing, dancing, silly hats and festive games.
All in all, an eventful year in which we delighted in returning to so much of our pre-Covid programming, as well as developing other initiatives which sprang from the necessity of the pandemic. We loved getting out to so many parts of the UK, interacting with our supporters and beneficiaries face-to-face and continuing to impact thousands of lives for the better by combatting loneliness and restoring dignity and confidence. Here’s to another action-packed year of fun, friendship, challenge and camaraderie in 2023…