Celebrities and military veterans perform powerful poem to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day

This Friday, 8 May, marks 75 years since VE Day. Celebrities, British Army personnel and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity supporters have come together virtually for a performance of William Ernest Henley’s poem ‘Invictus’, written in 1875.

‘Invictus’ is Latin for ‘unconquered’. The poem is about stoicism, courage and refusing to accept defeat while enduring a severely testing time. A piece which reflects the fortitude of the British Army and the British people during World War Two while also shining a light on the hardships that our country is currently facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joanna Lumley, Ray Winstone, Jenny Agutter, Martin Clunes, Johnny Vegas and Luke Pasqualino powerfully recite the poem alongside ABF The Soldiers’ Charity’s beneficiaries and ambassadors: Rachel Webster, Rick Clement, Stewart Harris and Louis Rudd. You can watch and share the poem on YouTube here: https://bit.ly/soldierscharityveday

Original video format is available upon request.

Notes to editors

1. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is the Army’s national charity, formed in 1944 to provide a lifetime of support to soldiers, veterans and their families when they are in need. In the past year, we have helped 70,000 members of the Army family in 68 countries across the globe and funded 92 other charities and organisations to deliver specialist services. While there is a British Army, there will be The Soldier’ Charity. www.soldierscharity.org

2. Biographies Rachel Webster served in the British Army for 24 years. Rachel is a Business Manager for Barclays Bank and an ambassador and fundraiser for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

Rachel is currently completing a marathon distance every day until VE Day. She started on 27 April and will finish on 8 May. More information here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rachel-webster

Rick Clement served in the British Army for 16 years on operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and on training exercises in Australia and Canada. While on his first tour of Afghanistan Rick stepped on a Taliban IED. He lost his legs and much of his right arm in the blast.

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has assisted with a grant towards a specialist wheelchair and funding for a corner bath. Stewart Harris served with the British Army for 13 years. While on tour in Afghanistan in 2012, a roadside bomb hurled Stewart’s vehicle into a ditch leaving him with brain damage; the impact of which has left him partially sighted and partially deaf. He also witnessed three of his comrades shot dead by an Afghan policeman. Stewart was later diagnosed with PTSD before leaving the Army at the age of 30.

When his house was burgled, Stewart became too afraid to leave home or take his medication for fear that it would affect his alertness. The Soldiers’ Charity stepped in to help Stewart and his family, providing financial assistance towards the purchase and installation of CCTV cameras at their home. Stewart is now an Ambassador for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

Louis Rudd MBE is a record-breaking polar adventurer, expedition leader, former Royal Marine Commando and SAS soldier, with 34 years of service. Louis is now a Reservist. He has undertaken operational tours in NI, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as multiple cold weather tours in Norway and the Arctic circle. He is the first – and only – person to have traversed Antarctica twice using human power alone, and has reached the South Pole three times from different coastal start points.

Louis is an Ambassador of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

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