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Remembering the ‘truly special’ Bunny Ennis

We are deeply saddened to learn that the wonderful, Bernard ‘Bunny’ Ennis has passed away, at the age of 94.

Bunny and the Ennis family have had a very close relationship with our charity for a number of years, and it’s particularly difficult to lose someone who has touched the hearts of us all with his charm, wit, and endless support.

Many of you will have seen World War II veteran, Bunny as the face of our recent ‘Forgot You Not’ campaign. With his support, we were able to find and thank almost 3,000 WW2 veterans like him; bringing joy to a great generation, at a time when it was so sorely needed.

Bunny during his time in the RAF, and in his later years

Bunny took on the mighty task of being a Rear Gunner in the RAF at only 19 years old. Several decades later, he continued to raise funds and awareness to make sure that his fellow veterans of all ages were not left isolated or alone.

He was a regular at many of our events, and always had a pocket full of chocolate eclairs on hand for anyone who wanted one. The younger veterans flocked to him because he had so many stories and was simply fun to listen to. Not all of his stories were from his military days – far from it! Everyone just loved his joie de vivre.

Sharing stories on The Solent

Our Head of Events, Rosie, and Assistant Anne have known Bunny for a number of years, and have countless fond memories of Bunny, and his wife, Polly.

Anne said: “Bunny was always on hand if needed. He used to have a shed full of copper and bronze, which he would collect and sell so he could donate the money to us.

“He would randomly send us things which we could sell at charity auctions as well. He was our representative with the Bomber Command, and he would find other veterans who could benefit from our support.

“Bunny and Polly were amazing. His daughter, Lynda did fundraisers for us and he would always join, talk to people, and spread the word about what we do.”

Bunny and Polly (left) at The Union Jack Club before a TNF fundraising event

Rosie added: “Bunny was always a bundle of joy. He made people laugh and had stories to tell – wherever he went, he made people laugh and smile. It was just in his nature.

“He had a twinkle in his eye – Bunny and Polly have always been a joy to be around.

“I remember I was running the New Forest Marathon, and I was really struggling with the hills. A Shania Twain song started playing in my earphones about a long road, and that was the last thing I wanted to hear.

“But in the distance, I saw Polly and Bunny there with a big cardboard sign saying ‘KEEP GOING, ROSIE.”

“They were there when I needed them most. Bunny was a one-off; a truly exceptional man.”

Bunny ‘sleeping’ on a bench at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea

Our CEO, Brig. James Stopford shared his thoughts and memories of Bunny in a letter to the Ennis family. You can read an excerpt from that letter below:

“Very occasionally, one is privileged and lucky enough to meet a ‘giant’ of a person who on every level is remarkable and instantly recognisable as someone truly special. These colossi have a unique quality that stands them above their peers, and the more you get to know them, those first impressions are only strengthened. Bunny was such a man – a wonderful character, an air of colour, a sense of mischief and all very humbly presented – he was hugely loved and will be greatly missed.

“There could have been no other ‘Poster Boy’ for our Forgot You Not campaign. He epitomised a remarkable generation who gave so much in their youth and just kept on giving. Their energy and élan, which Bunny had an abundance of, was such an example to us all.

Bunny dancing away at our HMS Excellent Concert, summer 2020

“Bunny’s passing brings to mind the saying attributed to Abraham Lincoln: ‘In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in those years’ – on all accounts, Bunny was a giant amount us, and I for one am richer for having known him.”

Bunny leaves behind his beloved wife Polly, and a wonderful family, who are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. It is a testament to their selflessness, that they continue to support our work, this time with a fundraiser in Bunny’s memory. If you would like to donate to that fundraiser, you can do so here.