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Lottery supports Scottish WW2 veterans as they travel back to remember

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Heroes Return
Release date:
28 5 2013

The Big Lottery Fund today (TUESDAY 28 MAY) announces its latest round of funding made through Heroes Return 2, which enables veterans to embark on poignant visits back to the places where they saw action almost 70 years ago.

Thomas Clifford, 88, from Stirling will be making a special trip back to the beaches of Normandy next year; a trip which will coincide with his 90th birthday. Thomas served in the Royal Marines during the War and took part in the D-Day Landings in June 1944.  Thomas said, “We sailed from Southampton.  I remember that Winston Churchill came to see us a few days before we left.  He sailed down the Solent on a boat and raised his hat to all the boats that were there.”

“At that time I was a Gun Captain and our job was to land and be in the front of the queue, so to speak.  We were about 4,000 yards from the beach and we had to go in and bombard anything we saw that looked antagonistic. After about 20 minutes we made way for the assault craft that then came next.  I don’t remember being nervous on the boat going over.  We were Royal Marines and we had a job to do.  We had fought in previous campaigns and had an idea of what to expect.”

Thomas has been back to France once before but this trip will be extra poignant.  He said, “Now I will be going back to commemorate the 70th anniversary which will coincide with my 90th birthday.  The first thing I will do is go straight to the beach to find the spot we landed at all those years ago.  I can’t walk very well but I will go as far as I can and look at the view I can first remember seeing when I was nearly 20 years old. This trip means a great deal to me.  It will be an emotional journey but it’s a different kind of emotion; not just tearful as I am also full of pride for what we did.”

Gordon Scott, 87, from the Isle of Bute will be visiting Sri Lanka next year.  In 1945 Gordon, who was serving as a Medic in the Royal Navy, was posted to Colombo but soon became ill.  Gordon said, “I first had malaria and then got dengue fever.  I was in hospital and remember that it was packed.  There were beds all over the place and it was full to bursting.”

Although he was a patient himself Gordon was soon called upon to help out. He said, “When I was a bit better I helped them out and did some light duties.  There was so much work to be done and things were pretty desperate.  Even if it was taking the time to reassure people that they were going to live sometimes that was all that was needed.”

Despite his time in hospital, Colombo holds some pretty special memories for Gordon and he is looking forward to making the long trip back. He said, “At the time I was there a lot of troops were posted there to be rested and usually you were even able to have a few days leave.  It was so wonderful to have that time I can’t tell you not to have any worries for a few days.  I always associate it as being a place that you could relax and that’s what it will always mean to me.”

Thomas and Gordon are amongst five Scottish Second World War veterans who will be making poignant commemorative visits as part of the Big Lottery Fund’s Heroes Return 2 programme.

Annette Cameron from Alloa and her mother will be making a second trip back to Singapore thanks to Heroes Return 2.  Annette’s father, William, served there from 1945 to 1946. She said, “I heard that there were second trips available and I said to my mum did she want to do it and she said yes straightaway. Now we have this to look forward to.  It’s lovely as it brings the family together and brings back memories of my father.”

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said, “Today’s Heroes Return 2 funding announcement builds on our previous support for veterans. We are proud to be able to help some of those men and women, who served with such distinction during the Second World War, to remember those who fell. Survivors of the D-Day landings and others will be taking part in commemorative events to mark the sacrifice and courage of colleagues. In this small way, our funding will assist these veterans join up with their comrades and reflect on the consequences of their dedication and bravery.”

The Big Lottery Fund has extended its Heroes Return 2 programme to enable veterans to apply for funding to make second trips. The programme deadline for closure will now be end of 2015. This will ensure Second World War veterans from the UK, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland who have already been funded since the programme opened in 2009, will have a second opportunity to apply for a grant towards travel and accommodation expenses to enable them to make trips back to places across the world where they served, or make a commemorative visit in the UK. For details contact: Heroes Return helpline:  0845 00 00 121 or visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/heroesreturn

Lorna McNiven, Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 0141 242 1451
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Ask BIG a question here: https://ask.biglotteryfund.org.uk
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Notes to Editors

• The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since June 2004 BIG has awarded over £6bn.
• The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £29 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.