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Suffolk: SSAFA chairman Kevin O’Donoghue leads tributes to charity’s ‘foot-soldiers’ at AGM in Needham Market

PUBLISHED: 13:33 25 March 2014

SSAFA AGM

SSAFA AGM

Archant

A distinguished Army veteran has paid glowing tributes to a military charity’s Suffolk volunteers and their tireless work helping past and present servicemen.

Kevin O’Donoghue, who served as the UK’s military representative to NATO, attended the Suffolk branch of the Soldiers’ Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Associaton (SSAFA) AGM at Needham Market Community Centre last week.

Mr O’Donoghue, who is also the charity’s national chairman, congratulated the branch on its “outstanding work” and paid thanks to the volunteer case workers who give their time to help those in need.

“I am humbled by the amount of time the foot-soldiers – the case workers – actually give,” he said.

Outlining his key messages, Mr O’Donoghue, who was made the British Army’s first Chief of Defence Materiel in 2007, added: “We really are needed, we are doing a great job in all that we do and volunteers are at the heart of SSAFA – our charity is led by volunteers and run by volunteers and I think it is fairly unique in that. I think the volunteers, the foot-solders, the tip of the spear will still be the workhorses and the future of SSAFA.”

The meeting, which was attended by dozens of dignitaries from across the county, including the mayors of Ipswich, Stowmarket, Felixstowe and Needham Market, saw further acknowledgement of the volunteers’ efforts throughout 2013.

Branch chairman Robin Newell highlighted the 295 cases completed throughout the year and the £167,000 raised from various military and civilian charities as examples of their success.

“I believe our case workers come from the rich vein running through our society made up of people giving up their time and effort for those who are less fortunate,” he said.

Although the number of completed cases were down on the figure for 2012, Mr O’Donoghue, based on his experiences from a national perspective, said the “cost and complexity” of those undertaken had probably risen.

Further praise was offered in respect to the branch’s growing programme of charity fundraisers, which last year included garden parties, tea parties, sky dives, street collections and a sponsored mobility scooter trek.

Lord Tollemache, the Suffolk branch patron, also expressed his admiration for the charity.

“Suffolk and Kent were the first branches of SSAFA – and the Suffolk branch is still brilliantly run and a leader for all branches in the UK,” he said. “I think it’s brilliant, what you all do.”

Five of the case workers were singled out for particular praise in honour of their long-term service to the charity. Suzanne Cross, Charles Scott, Simon Marchant, Josephine Marchant and John Burn all received their annual service awards.

The charity is appealing for two volunteer bookkeepers, with knowledge in accounting, to join their team. If you can help contact the Suffolk branch on 01787 377850.

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