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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
But where exactly am I “attacking vulnerable ex service personnel”? And I don’t think the Charity Commission needs to worry about me…
Everyone should read his comment – at my “Contact Me” page.
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”.
“We would be delighted to hear from you and to answer your questions”, says the charity on its “Contact Us” web page. (http://soldieringon.org/contact-us/) Enquiries are directed to Chairman Wing Commander Tal Lambert.
But Wing Commander Lambert didn’t reply to my 2 April 2014 message asking “why in the run-up to the Awards Night on Saturday [5 April 2014] SOTLT has removed much of the previously published information on its website, soldieringon.org”. In full disclosure, I provided a link to my 31 March 2014 post.
Presumably this time Wing Commander Lambert wasn’t “delighted” to hear from me. It is disappointing that he chose not to answer my legitimate question.
“No decision has been taken to close the charity, although I have concluded that the charity’s operations are not viable or sustainable in their present form and have begun winding these down to reduce costs”, he says. On fundraising, the Interim Manager adds: “At this stage I have suspended further fundraising activities and will not look to accept any donations until further notice.”
He finishes: “…the Charity Commission’s investigation continues”.
I note that the Interim Manager has removed an email address he had previously published there.
My report yesterday did NOT say that the charity has been closed.