LONDON 19 April 2015 – Daily Telegraph readers overwhelmingly voted to give a Gurkha charity a major award for their help to the outstanding soldiers from Nepal.


The Gurkha Welfare Trust topped a list of five tireless military fundraisers and campaigners to win The People’s Choice Award at the 2015 Soldiering On Through Life Awards, presented by Major General Nitsch (on behalf of the Head of the Army General Nick Carter) in central London last night.

A total of 35 per cent of Telegraph readers who voted chose the Gurkha Welfare Trust for its dedication to relieving poverty among veterans of the revered regiment of the British Army.

The charity was formed in 1969 to combat hardship among Gurkha World War Two veterans with service too short to qualify for an Army pension.

The trust now provides veterans with pensions of 7,000 Nepalese Rupees, winter fuel allowances, residential homes, medical camps, doctors and nurses. It has also given clean water to almost 300,000 people in 1,406 Gurkha villages and helped educated 547,000 children through a schooling programme.

Through their votes, Telegraph readers also donated hundreds of pounds to the charities associated with all five nominees. Peoples-choice-all2

The People’s Choice runners-up included:

  • Afghan veteran Kevin Ogilvie as nominated by the RAF Benevolent Fund
  • Bob Barrett, founder of Forces Sauces as nominated by the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation
  • The dog “SSAFA” and his Tony Robinson as nominated by SSAFA
  • Former Royal Marine Spencer Vaughan as nominated by The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity

Wing Commander Tal Lambert MBE, chairman of the Soldiering on Through Life Trust, which supports injured service personnel, their families and promotes military charities, said:  “To the Gurkhas, to our service personnel, their families and the charities that support them, you have a special place in the nation’s heart. You are an inspiration to us all. You are all winners tonight.”

Major General Robert Netsch with the People’s Choice nominations supported by The Telegraph

In second place in the Telegraph poll for The People’s Choice Award, with 30 per cent of the vote, was Afghan veteran Kevin Ogilvie. Lance Corporal Ogilvie, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, was critically injured while on patrol with the Scotland-based 51 Squadron, an RAF regiment, in September 2012.

A roadside bomb left him paralysed from the chest down aged just 22. Since then, Kevin, Amie his wife and his family have raised thousands of pounds for the RAF Benevolent Fund and SSAFA who help injured servicemen and women.

Nominee Spencer Vaughn, 26, a former Royal Marine, from Cwmbran, south Wales, was left paralysed from the chest down after diving head first into an underwater sandbank while on a manoeuvre with 45 Commando Royal Marines in 2010. The impact broke his neck in three places. Metal plates were fitted to support his damaged vertebrae, followed by 18 months of intense physio, hydro and electrotherapy.

Spencer trained as a fitness instructor and during a work placement at Plymouth Life Centre, guided people through gym-based workouts and helped change staff perceptions about the daily challenges faced by people with disabilities. He is due to start a degree in Sports Biomedicine and Nutrition at Cardiff University.

Tony Robinson, 56, of Merton, Surrey, suffered life-changing injuries in an industrial accident in 2001 and was partially paralysed as a result of irreparable spinal and nerve damage. Tony, who spent four years with 1st Battalion The Queen’s Regiment, is now confined to a wheelchair and suffers sudden bouts of extreme pain which can affect him for weeks afterwards.

His trusty Jack Russell terrier called SSAFA, in honour of the charity, is Tony’s lifeline as he can predict the onset of an attack, allowing him to take medication in advance.

Bob Barrett, 63, joined the Army in 1967, serving with the Queen’s Lifeguard, but in 2004 was made homeless and diagnosed with cancer.

After recuperating at a Stoll military home, he launched Forces Sauces and supplies Tesco and Waitrose with ketchup and brown sauce. Part of the profits go to Stoll and the Royal British Legion.

The awards were presented at the Park Plaza Westminster hotel in central London and were decided by a judging panel chaired by General Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army

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