The Prime Minister has recognised Jeffrey Long MBE, an 86-year-old former paratrooper from West Yorkshire, who raised over £120,000 for The Royal British Legion in 2017 when his sponsored walk went viral.
Jeffrey was propelled to fame during last year’s Poppy Appeal when his 86-mile fundraising walk began trending on social media after being shared by comedian Jason Manford. The attention resulted in his JustGiving page total going from £300 to £75,000 within 24 hours, eventually reaching over £120,000.
He is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
In a personal letter to Jeffrey, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The story of your fundraising for The Royal British Legion has inspired millions of people online, and you should be incredibly proud of raising over £120,000 by walking 86 miles on your 86th birthday. Your long-serving support of armed forces charities is helping thousands of veterans across the country, and your latest efforts have encouraged new generations to remember those who have given their lives whilst serving our country.”
Jeffrey said: “I’m honoured to be chosen for this award and delighted that the government is recognising the efforts of volunteers around the country. Of course, there are many other people who support my fundraising and I’m very grateful to them. I’m passionate about the causes I support, especially the military charities given my background with the Paras. I don’t intend to give up fundraising in the foreseeable future!”
Jason Manford said: “Congratulations to Jeffrey! I was chuffed to hear that he’s being recognised like this. I first shared Jeffrey’s story because it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d like to see on my own newsfeed. We need people like Jeffrey in the world to remind us all that we’re in this together. He’s a top man and an inspiration.”
Paula Modeste, who first brought Jeffrey to the nation’s attention when they met during his walk and she shared his story on Facebook, said: “This is brilliant news. From my first meeting with Jeffrey, I could tell that he is a special person who cares deeply about helping others. And from the way people reacted on social media, it’s clear that many of them could see it too. It’s great that he’s being recognised in this way and I hope it encourages others to be more like Jeffrey. He is a legend!”
Jeffrey, who received an MBE in 2009 for voluntary service to The Royal British Legion, has continued to fundraise in his later years in spite of ongoing chemotherapy. He specialises in long-distance hiking for military and veterans’ charities, often dressed in army camouflage.
The Legion’s Director of Fundraising, Claire Rowcliffe, said: “We’d like to congratulate Jeffrey on such a well-deserved award. I’m so proud to see his efforts being highlighted in this way. No other individual raised more during last year’s Poppy Appeal and we’re grateful to the many people who supported him. It’s thanks to the generosity of the public that we can continue to provide support to the Armed Forces community, including veterans like Jeffrey.”