By Nikki Hunter
The National Lottery has recently announced they will be funding the Big Heroes Return 2.
This allows veterans, their spouses and carers to return to the place that the veterans last saw active service. Substantial amounts of money will be made available towards the cost of travel and accomodation for the veterans. The grants from the national lottery total up to £50,925. The original Heroes Return was back in 2004/2005 and this was a big success and all the veterans who travelled came back very humbled by their experience.
The Big Heroes return 2 will involves a group of twenty-six WW2 veterans travelling from Scotland with the largest number of servicemen coming from the highlands, eighteen men, twelve wives and fourteen carers. The second largest group coming from Dumfries and Galloway, three veterans, two spouses and two carers. This for many of them will be the first time they have returned since they left over 60 years ago. The group will also include the thirty-eight widows, wives and carers. Carers show the frailty that some of these veterans are in.
Veterans are able to revisit such places as Germany and Italy through an organisation called Poppy Travel. This is a specialist travel arm of the British Legion and has been arrnaging visits to battlefields, war cemetries and memorials since 1927.
Lloyd Owen from the Royal British Legion said: “Poppy Travel sent a large number of veterans on Heroes Return in 2005 and has already sent numerous this year. We were an integral part of setting up and working with both grant schemes (The Big Lottery Grant and the MOD Grant scheme) and RBL is doing the eligibility verification.”
The grants are issued after the veteran applies through the national lottery; the application will then be processed and they will receive a reference number, the veteran will then book onto a tour through Poppy Travel and the grant is paid into their account.
“The one thing that I would like to make clear is that we as an organisation never actually receive monies. They go straight to the veteran, who then pays it to the Legion for the expenses incurred. Overall it is deemed to be a huge success, and an integral part of the services that the Legion can offer the veteran“.