England Veterans Awards: SSAFA supporters sweep prizes

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, is proud to announce that four of it’s supporters were in the winner’s enclosure at the English Veterans Awards, held in Bristol, on Thursday.

Gina Allsop took home a Gold Award as Volunteer of the Year, Paul Jacobs GM took home a Silver Award as Inspiration of the Year, Mike Donne was awarded Silver for Volunteer of the Year, and Sally Orange MBE was awarded a Gold Award for Role Model of the Year and also Overall 2023 Veteran of the Year.

Sally Orange MBE has spent years campaigning and raising funds and awareness of the mental health challenges faced by veterans, serving personnel and reserves following her own battle with severe depression and chronic anxiety. She is tireless in her work and regularly runs marathons all over the world, often dressed as a piece of fruit.

Sally said:

“Honestly, I had no expectation that I would win. I’m totally blown away. And you could have knocked me over with a feather when I was called to collect the Overall Winner’s trophy at the end of the ceremony. I’m no better than anyone else. Every single person in that room has done amazing things for our Armed Forces, and if I could have got them all on stage with me I would have done.”

Gina Allsop is an inspiration for fundraisers everywhere, but she has also overcome personal adversity to work so hard to ensure other’s have the help they need through the charity.

Gina said:

“In accepting this award I represent all the volunteers of the charities and organizations that I volunteer and fundraise for – the Army Cadet Force, SSAFA, Purple Warriors, ACCT UK, British Drivers Marine Mammal Rescue, Animal Aid, Greyhound Rescue. Volunteers are the life blood of this country. I wasn’t expecting this at all. Thank you.”

Paul Jacobs was blinded by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Since his recovery, he has boxed, rowed, run and climbed his way into the hearts and minds of the veteran community. Paul has recently joined forces with SSAFA for the Eye Believe Project. Over the next four years he will be climbing the highest mountains on all seven continents, culminating with Mount Everest.

Paul said:

“I grew up in care, I lost my sight, I lost my way. But you have to keep going. I want everyone, all the children out there who feel like no-one wants them, anyone with a disability, or if you are feeling like you just can’t go on. You can. You have to believe in yourself. You are stronger than you think. Reach for your dreams.”

SSAFA volunteer, Mike Donne founded the Bishop Auckland Veterans’ Group, which alleviates loneliness and isolation in older veterans who may be far from family or have no family to visit them. He has worked tirelessly and has previously won local accolades for his efforts, being awarded the Durham County Council Chairman’s Medal earlier in the year.

Mike said:

“It was an honour to have been nominated and I hope it raises the profile of the work we do. It has been a great night and I’m glad some of my SSAFA friends have been here to enjoy it with me.

“It was also a great privilege to be amongst such amazing veterans and supporters of the Armed Forces community. I feel very proud, and very humble.”

The English Veterans Awards were created to applaud veterans in business, fitness, sport and the wider community, including reservists and the companies supporting the military community who operate out of England (there are Welsh and Scottish versions also).

Our Executive Members

By @Cobseo 54 years ago

Afghanistan support

In light of recent events in Afghanistan, please find information and support resources here