War heroes welcome Lottery scheme
THOUSANDS of Second World War heroes are to get the opportunity to revisit the battlefields where they served – thanks to a multi-million pound lottery scheme.
By Danielle Nuttall
THOUSANDS of Second World War heroes are to get the opportunity to revisit the battlefields where they served - thanks to a multi-million pound lottery scheme.
The Heroes Return initiative, which is being launched today by the New Opportunities Fund, will allow UK veterans to travel overseas to commemorate the battles they fought and the comrades they lost 60 years ago.
The scheme, which is also being run in association with the veterans' organisation Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations (COBSEO), will also provide funding for veteran's spouses and carers to accompany them.
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Ron Shawler, 85, a D-Day veteran who lives in Tattingstone, said yesterday : "It is quite good for anybody who wants to go and I think a lot of people would enjoy going.
"For myself I am a bit doubtful as it would bring back a lot of painful memories. I might consider it. A lot of people would probably go there and get something out of their minds that they have been worrying about for the last 60 years."
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He added the project would offer fellow D-Day veterans a chance to return to the Normandy beaches, where they fought nearly 60 years ago, not only to honour their fallen comrades but also the French people that were killed.
The scheme will be launched today in the bunker of the Cabinet War Rooms in London with hundreds of veterans from across the country.
Lottery minister Estelle Morris said: "We all owe the men and women who fought in World War Two a great deal. I am very pleased that money has been made available by the New Opportunities Fund to make it possible for them to once again pay their respects to their former colleagues."
Major General Michael Shellard, CBE, chair of the COBSEO, added: "Heroes Return offers a wonderful opportunity for veterans of the Second World War, including widows, to revisit the scenes of their experiences during that conflict.
"The 60th anniversary of these events will probably be the last chance for very many to commemorate a significant year in their lives. For many, such commemoration would not be possible without the financial support of the New Opportunities Fund."
The scheme will allow veterans to link up with schools to educate children on their experiences.
Charles Clarke, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, said: "This project is an exciting and imaginative way of introducing students to the important events in our past.
"I am sure pupils will learn a great deal from the veterans. It is vital each generation understands what people went through in all wars, including the Second World War and why."