Accessible Aid For Heroes: Response from Simon Weston

  1. As I wrote yesterday, there is an unexplained photo of the well-known Falkland’s War veteran Simon Weston on the Accessible Aid For Heroes website: http://www.accessnetwork.org/page/accessible-aid-for-heroes.html. I said that I had written to Simon Weston to ask whether he is happy for his photo to appear on the Accessible Aid For Heroes/Accessible Aid website. I sent him a link to my 27 April 2014 blog post.
  2. Today I received this response from his agent, Matthew Fisher: “I spoke to Simon and he is aware of the charity and helped to support it when it set up. So the photo and the connection with them is genuine. If there is any further issues please do let me know and I can raise it with Simon.”

Accessible Aid For Heroes: How much of the ticket price goes to the charity?

  1. As I wrote yesterday, Accessible Aid For Heroes is running a “prize draw”: http://www.accessnetwork.org/page/prize-draw.html. The Terms and Conditions on its website, as you can see, don’t say how much of the ticket price goes to the charity.
  2. Chair and founder John Kelly is the public contact for the charity, according to the Charity Commission website. On 28 April 2014, I emailed him for the proportion.

Accessible Aid For Heroes: a new Blackpool “heroes” military charity

  1. On 26 April 2014, I received an email bringing to my attention a new Blackpool “heroes” military charity – Accessible Aid For Heroes. The name is obviously similar to Help for Heroes. “John Jamieson” also submitted his message as a comment at my “About” page. Please read his comment.
  2. Yes, we’re in Blackpool again: see para 7 in my 18 March 2014 post on Families of the Brave, another military charity. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/families-of-the-brave-shows-how-hard-it-is-to-give-with-confidence/) What is it about Blackpool?
  3. The Accessible Aid For Heroes website is: http://www.accessnetwork.org/page/accessible-aid-for-heroes.html. As you can see, the Accessible Aid For Heroes logo, which includes the Union flag, shows a registered charity number – 1152312. Yet the Charity Commission lists that number for new Blackpool charity Accessible Aid (registered 6 June 2013). According to the commission’s public register, the Accessible Aid website is: http://www.accessnetwork.org.
  4. Visitors to the Accessible Aid website encounter the Accessible Aid For Heroes logo – and clicking the logo produces the page http://www.accessnetwork.org/page/accessible-aid-for-heroes.html. Beneath the Accessible Aid For Heroes logo, there are two photos, both without a caption. One photo shows Simon Weston, the well-known Falkland’s War veteran (http://www.simonweston.com), with another man that I don’t recognise. The other photo is of a group of what appear to be soldiers, in silhouette. And that’s it: there is no text on the page other than the title, Accessible Aid For Heroes.
  5. On his official website, Weston lists the charities that he endorses: http://www.simonweston.com/charities-links/. His list doesn’t include Accessible Aid For Heroes or Accessible Aid (at 27 April 2014).
  6. You won’t be surprised to learn that Accessible Aid For Heroes is running a “prize draw”: http://www.accessnetwork.org/page/prize-draw.html. The Accessible Aid For Heroes logo appears at the top of the page. The “prize draw” is organised by official professional fundraiser BOL, address: “2-4 Ansdell Road, Blackpool, FY1 5LX”. Its company number is shown as “7099208”. There isn’t a link to a website for BOL.
  7. According to Companies House, company 07099208 is Blackpool Office Ltd. Its registered office is: 2-4 Ansdell House, Ansdell Road, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 5LX. Blackpool Office Ltd was incorporated 9 December 2009, by founding director Mark Butcher. Mark Butcher is a trustee and secretary of the charity Accessible Aid. On 27 March 2013, his appointment as director of Blackpool Office Ltd was terminated. On that day, Mrs Abbie Butcher was appointed as director.
  8. There is a Blackpool Office website: http://www.blackpooloffice.co.uk. Although the company says it provides various “business services”, there is no mention of professional charity fundraising, let alone BOL. The website doesn’t show the company number. There are no names of people either – not even on the “Contact Us” page. (http://www.blackpooloffice.co.uk/index.php/contact-us.html) It doesn’t publish an email address: email contact is only possible via the form on the “Contact Us” page. The address is shown as: “Ansdell House, 2-4 Ansdell Road, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 5LX”.
  9. So official professional fundraiser BOL doesn’t have a website. Sounds familiar? Neither does Prize Promotions Limited, also of Blackpool, the official professional fundraiser for Afghan Heroes. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/the-fundraiser-the-comedian-and-the-ex-cabinet-minister-the-tale-of-a-military-charity/)
  10. On 27 April 2014, I wrote to Simon Weston to ask whether he is happy for his photo to appear on the Accessible Aid For Heroes/Accessible Aid website.

Trustee of Help 4 Homeless Veterans asks why I’m “attacking vulnerable ex service personnel”

  1. Hitherto I have referred to the military charity Help 4 Homeless Veterans (registered charity number: 1148155) only once, and in passing. That was in para 4 of my 22 March 2014 post, “TTS Promotions Limited was fundraiser for Army of Angels”. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/tts-promotions-limited-was-fundraiser-for-army-of-angels/)
  2. I had referred to Help 4 Homeless Veterans in that paragraph after Andrew Penman’s story on the charity and its fundraiser (“Is Prize Draw the full ticket?”) in his 20 March 2014 column in the Daily Mirror newspaper.
  3. On 21 April 2014, I received a response from a trustee of Help 4 Homeless Veterans, Kevin Hartley, to my 22 March 2014 post. He submitted his comment at my “Contact Me” page.
  4. As you’ll see, Hartley accuses me of “attacking vulnerable ex service personnel”. He also says that the Charity Commission is “trying to prove you wrong”.
  5. But where exactly am I “attacking vulnerable ex service personnel”? And I don’t think the Charity Commission needs to worry about me…
  6. Everyone should read his comment – at my “Contact Me” page.
  7. ADDENDUM: The Help 4 Homeless Veterans website: http://help4homelessveterans.org.uk.

Afghan Heroes: 2011 complaint to Charity Commission

  1. The damning Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on the Charity Commission, published 5 February 2014, specifically criticised the Commission for being “too slow and inefficient” investigating Afghan Heroes. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/charity-commission-not-fit-for-purpose-says-pac/)
  2. The 10 April 2014 Charity Commission response to the PAC report doesn’t mention Afghan Heroes. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/afghan-heroes-not-mentioned-in-charity-commission-response-to-pac-report/)
  3. In its report, the PAC says that it had heard from a correspondent who said he’d complained in July 2013 about the charity to the Charity Commission.
  4. In The Independent newspaper today (14 April 2014), there is a report of a complaint made in 2011 about Afghan Heroes to the Commission: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/why-did-it-take-so-long-to-probe-soldiers-charity-9257642.html.
  5. On Afghan Heroes, it seems that the performance of the Charity Commission has been even worse than the PAC was aware of at the time of its report.

Families of the Brave: whither the website?

  1. On 18 March 2014, I published my investigation into the activities of military charity Families of the Brave and their official professional fundraiser, Sterling Support. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/families-of-the-brave-shows-how-hard-it-is-to-give-with-confidence/) There I revealed the striking similarities with the Afghan Heroes case. Following that post, a password is now required to view the Sterling Support homepage. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/password-required-to-view-sterling-support-website/)
  2. In my post on Families of the Brave, I showed that there are many issues with the charity’s website. (http://www.familiesofthebrave.org) Well, it has apparently disappeared. Anyone trying to access the Families of the Brave website is redirected to a page on the Wix website (http://www.wix.com) that says at the top: “Hey. This domain used to be connected to a Wix website.” The headline on the page is: “Create Your Own Stunning Website for Free with Wix”.

Afghan Heroes not mentioned in Charity Commission response to PAC report

  1. On 10 April 2014, the Charity Commission published its response to the damning Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on the Charity Commission. (http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/news/commission-chairman-calls-for-adequate-funding-and-stronger-powers/)
  2. The PAC report, published 5 February 2014, specifically criticised the Commission for being “too slow and inefficient” investigating Afghan Heroes. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/charity-commission-not-fit-for-purpose-says-pac/)
  3. There is no mention of Afghan Heroes in today’s Charity Commission press release – nor in the response itself, available on GOV.UK via the link in the press release.