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A Service to Celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the SSAFA Associsation Forces Help

Thursday, 18th February 2010

A Service to Celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the SSAFA Associsation Forces Help

His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent attended a Service to Celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 18th February 2010.

The SSAFA charity was founded in 1885 by Major Gildea who recognised that when armed forces went away to fight in conflicts the welfare of families left at home should not be neglected. Major (later Colonel Sir) James Gildea wrote to The Times appealing for funds and volunteers to look after the families left behind and The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association was formed.

In the years since, the Association has continued to support thousands of families struggling to cope while men were away on active service and has assisted those in need through a unique blend of very practical support and advice, coupled with the commitment and dedication of thousands of volunteers.

For 125 years, through three different centuries, SSAFA Forces Help has been there for millions of different servicemen and women and the people they love, believing that their bravery, dedication, and loyalty deserve a lifetime of support.

The service was conducted by The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, and the Address was given by The Right Reverend Dr Stephen Venner DL, Bishop to Her Majesty’s Forces.

Testimonies were given by Zoe Charlton, SSAFA Forces Help Caseworker, Lancashire Branch, and Major Simon Shirley, Royal Irish Regiment.

Lieutenant General Sir Robin Ross KCB OBE, Chairman, SSAFA Forces Help, read from St Matthew’s Gospel (25: 31-40).

Prayers were led by The Reverend Graeme Napier, Minor Canon of Westminster; Jan Dowlen-Gilliland, Director of Nursing, SSAFA Forces Help; and Colonel John Royle MBE, Chair of Regional Representatives, SSAFA Forces Help.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, President of SSAFA, led the Act of Dedication and said:

As we look to the future with hope, so let us dedicate ourselves to the service of God and our fellow men and women, remembering in particular those who have served, and those who still serve, in the maintenance of peace and justice among all nations and peoples.

During the service, the SSAFA Forces Help Standard was borne through the Church.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir, conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Robert Quinney, Sub-Organist. The Band of the Grenadier Guards was directed by Major Kevin Roberts.

See also

The Order of Service (PDF)

SSAFA Forces Help Website

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