Veterans' Befriender Receives INSPIRE Award

Congratulations to Tony Moore, a volunteer befriender to our Hampshire veterans, who has just been presented with an Inspire Award by Ian Burnham, our Finance Director.

Since their foundation in November 2012 by our CEO Andrew Lord, over 70 Alabaré INSPIRE awards have been awarded to clients, volunteers and staff for outstanding contributions to our work. 

Every day in our Homes and Services, staff, volunteers and clients continue to INSPIRE us. Their efforts and selfless contributions to Alabaré and your communities are the very reason the INSPIRE awards were created.

Our charity is passionate about recognising the huge commitment that people make towards our goals, and the help that we give to each other in our organisation. 

Tony says, "I get really fed up with Facebook when you see things like “Support our Armed Forces Veterans, please ‘Like’ this”.  It is all very well just clicking the button, however, there are much better ways of supporting them like getting active and doing something!

For me it began attending a course at Alabaré in Salisbury, designed to equip me to become an Armed Forces Befriender

The course was brilliant and when it was over I was fired up and ready to go. Then I had to wait... and wait... for several weeks. Unbeknown to me staff were trying to engage the veterans to work with a befriender. I was on the verge of giving up when I received a call asking me to meet with Jimmy who was ‘in a bad way’.

Jimmy (52) had been invalided out of an infantry regiment. He is a rightfully proud ex-sergeant and his pride to a certain extent hampered his progress, I made a point of visiting with him every Wednesday. At first Jimmy was not very talkative and I wondered if I was making any progress at all. If he wasn’t up and about when I visited I would leave and not disturb him. This I did every Wednesday eventually he began to engage with me and we both looked forward to our weekly chat and cuppa.

What led Jimmy being in such a bad way? Whilst training in Canada in an armoured personnel carrier, the vehicle overturned leaving Jimmy under a pile of bar mines and a heavy radio. Having partially recovered from his injuries, Jimmy turned to alcohol to numb the constant pain in his lower back and became reliant on it. This was all before I had met him. He moved into an Alabaré Home for Veterans in Gosport, Hampshire after coming out of hospital following a detox program. When I met him he had suffered a stroke and his speech and balance had become impaired. Although he spoke slowly and slurred he never lost his regional accent and great sense of humour. The NHS staff were amazing and helped considerably. On several trips to the hospital we used to drive via Portsdown Hill stopping off to buy a burger and take in the view of Portsmouth, the Harbour and Isle of Wight. As Jimmy’s health and welfare improved we went on shopping trips to the local town which usually ended up in Burger King. 

Jimmy was able to purchase a mobility scooter which gave him more independence, he started to engage with his family who lived in Ireland, and even managed to visit them. This led him to make the decision to move back to his homeland. Together with Alabaré staff we worked to help Jimmy move to Ireland to lead the rest of his life surrounded by family and friends. I miss him. However we remain friends via Facebook and it is so very satisfying to hear that his regimental colleagues are rallying around and he is where he wants to be.

I am now befriending a couple of veterans that live in Gosport, I take these veterans out on a weekly basis, visiting the local military attractions that we are lucky to have in our area. We usually end up going for a cuppa and a chat and I get to know their life stories which are always interesting. I look forward to my weekly visits with the veterans.

Being a befriender is incredibly rewarding, it is about going at their pace and listening to them. On a personal level befriending has given me a sense of contributing to someone else and helping them move forward. There are mixed emotions when someone is able to move on into independence and no longer need your support, however there are others – plenty of others, needing support just waiting in all the Alabaré Homes for Veterans."