ABF The Soldiers' Charity

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ABF The Soldiers' Charity Information
Formation 1944
Type Charity
Purpose National Charity of The British Army
Headquarters London
Region Served United Kingdom
Official Language English
Chief Executive Officer Major General (Retired) Martin Rutledge
Website http://www.soldierscharity.org

ABF The Soldiers' Charity, formerly the Army Benevolent Fund[1] is a British charity. It is the National Charity of the British Army and provides financial and practical support to soldiers, veterans, and their immediate family in times of need, even after they have left the Army.

The charity spends on average £5 million on individuals who need help every year, and provides grants to over 80 charities, which deliver specialist support on its behalf – reaching over 70,000 people annually.


ABF The Soldiers’ Charity was founded in 1944 as The Army Benevolent Fund. The demobilisation of soldiers after the two World Wars had put an enormous strain on Regimental and Corps charitable funds and highlighted the need for a national charity to give practical help to soldiers and veterans. Its first patron was His Majesty King George VI.

In January 2010, the charity rebranded as ABF The Soldiers’ Charity[2] and continues to support the Army family by giving grants to individuals and other specialist charities that help soldiers and their families. It works with veterans from every conflict since the Second World War, including those from recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.[3]


The charity runs key national events as part of its fundraising activities:

Cateran Yomp – In partnership with Alliance Trust, the annual Cateran Yomp sees participants trek across the 54 mile Cateran Trail in Blairgowrie, Perthshire. Since the first Yomp in 2010 it has raised over £1,000,000 for the Charity.[4]

Big Curry – The national Big Curry month takes place every October where participants are encouraged to hold a Big Curry charity night. Celebrity supporters of the event include Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumental, the Hairy Bikers, Anjum Anad and Rick Stein.[5]

British Military Tournament – Following the closure of the Royal Tournament in 2009, the charity formed the British Military Tournament, which ran for four years. The tournament was the biggest of its kind in the UK and featured massed bands, The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery’s Musical Drive, the White Helmets and the Field Gun Competition.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – Working with designer Charlotte Rowe, the charity created a show garden at the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The garden “No Man’s Land” took inspiration from fields of Flanders, and won a Gold Medal at the show.[6]

Adventure Challenges - The charity regularly undertakes a variety of adventure challenges, including tandem skydives with The Red Devils (the official parachute display team of both The Parachute Regiment (The Paras) and the British Army), abseils off the ‘Big One’ in Blackpool, the Virgin Money London Marathon and the Ancestry.com Frontline Walk.

Partner charities[edit]

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is a key funder for many specialist organisations who rely on such funding to continue their bespoke support to the Army family and partners, alongside over 80 military Service charities including the Royal British Legion, Help for Heroes, RAF Benevolent Fund, Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, SSAFA,[7] and Combat Stress.

Beneficiaries and ambassadors[edit]

Every year thousands of individuals are beneficiaries of welfare funding from The Soldiers’ Charity.

Many of these individuals have gone on to become ambassadors for The Soldiers’ Charity, sharing their stories in order to raise much needed funds and awareness for the cause. These individuals include:

Micky Yule, a former Staff Sergeant in the Royal Engineers lost both of his legs in an explosion whilst serving in Afghanistan. Since leaving the Army, Micky has gone on to compete in para-powerlifting at an international level. He was selected to compete for Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where he finished 4th in his division and is now in training for Rio 2016.

Brenda Hale, a Democratic Unionist Party politician in Northern Ireland, lost her husband Captain Mark Hale, 2 RIFLES, when he was serving in Afghanistan in 2009. In 2011 Brenda was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the Lagan Valley.

Andy Reid, who lost both his legs and his right arm after stepping on an IED plate whilst serving with the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment in Afghanistan in 2009. Since recovering from his injuries, Andy has written an autobiography, Standing Tall, and in 2010 was presented with the Overcoming Adversity award at The Sun Military Awards ceremony. Andy is now a motivational speaker working with some of the UK's leading companies.

Bill Speakman was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions taken during the Korean War, as a Private in the Black Watch attached to 1st Battalion The Kings Own Scottish Borderers. He was the first man to receive a VC from Queen Elizabeth II.

Andrew Garthwaite, a former soldier, is one of only five people in the world to be fitted with a bionic arm powered by the brain. Andy lost his right arm in a rocket propelled grenade attack whilst serving in Afghanistan with The Queen’s Royal Lancers.

Alistair Hodgson – an international skydiving champion and one of the world’s top freeflyers – was injured by a terrorist bomb when serving as a Paratrooper in Northern Ireland in 1992. Suffering severe injuries including the loss of both legs, a broken arm, broken pelvis and fractured spine, he spent seven years in hospital. In 2003 he became Britain’s first-ever double amputee to freefall with the Red Devils Display Team and won Gold in the National Championships.

High-profile supporters[edit]

Many high profile individuals who have provided support for the Charity include people from the worlds of film, TV, sport, music and entertainment, who choose to support the Charity on a wide range of fundraising, awareness and campaigning activity. Previous and ongoing supporters of the Charity include Rowan Atkinson, Will Carling, Jeremy Clarkson, Dame Judi Dench, Ben Fogle, Stephen Fry, Sir Michael Gambon, Bear Grylls, Colin Jackson, Alex Jones, Lorraine Kelly, Josh Lewsey, Gary Lineker, Joanna Lumley, Jason Manford, Michael Morpurgo, Bill Nighy, Jeremy Paxman, Dame Maggie Smith, Caroline Quentin, Dan Snow, Chris Tarrant, Jonny Wilkinson, Ray Winstone, Union J, Blue, and James Blunt.

Corporate sponsors[edit]

The charity has a range of corporate partners and supporters that includes MBDA, Alliance Trust, Pandora, Famous Grouse, Barclays, SLI 365, Coutts, Shearings Holidays and BAE Systems.

Patrons and trustees[edit]

Patron: Queen Elizabeth II[8]

Vice Patrons: Field Marshal the Lord Bramall KG GCB OBE MC, Field Marshal Sir John Chapple GCB CBE, Field Marshal the Lord Vincent GBE KCB DSO, Field Marshal the Lord Inge KG GCB DL, General Sir Robert Ford GCB CBE.

President: General Sir Mike Jackson GCB CBE DSO DL.

Chairman of the Trustees: Major General Peter Sheppard CB CBE.

Trustees: Army Sergeant Major Glenn Haughton

See also[edit]

RAF Benevolent Fund, RNRMC, SSAFA, The Royal British Legion

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Third Sector Magazine, "Charity rebranding: a change of vision and strategy", Third Sector Magazine, 06/04/10
  2. ^ Third Sector Magazine, "Charity rebranding: a change of vision and strategy", Third Sector Magazine, 06/04/10
  3. ^ London Evening Standard, ", London Evening Standard, Homeless Veterans Appeal, 25/11/14
  4. ^ The Courier, ", Alliance Trust Cateran Yomp seeks those who can go the distance, 22/02/3
  5. ^ The Big Curry.org, "The Big Curry", The Big Curry, in support of ABF The Soldiers' Charity
  6. ^ The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, "ABF The Soldiers' Charity show garden No Man's Land at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014", The Royal Horticultural Society, 24/05/14
  7. ^ "Home | SSAFA". www.ssafa.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  8. ^ Jobson, Robert (24 December 2014). "The Queen sends a Christmas message to our veterans: the nation owes a great debt of gratitude to those who risk their lives for us". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 August 2015.