Afghan veteran and Mayor on march for ABF

Mayor of Ballymena Audrey Wales and Phillip Gillespie are supporting the Army Benevolent Fund.
Mayor of Ballymena Audrey Wales and Phillip Gillespie are supporting the Army Benevolent Fund.

The Mayor of Ballymena, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE and Afghan veteran Phillip Gillespie are calling on local people to back ABF ‘The Soldiers’ Charity’.

Formerly known as the Army Benevolent Fund, the charity starts its ‘Forward March Appeal’ this week and is hoping to raise a whopping £15,000 for soldiers, ex-soldiers and their families here in Northern Ireland.

Launching the appeal in Ballymena, Cllr Wales said: “This charity has spent nearly £1m hiring specialist recruitment consultants to find our wounded soldiers work in civilian life.

“Our own Ballymena Soldiers have benefitted greatly from this service, helping their transition back into civilian life.”

Ballymena ex-soldier Phillip Gillespie, who was wounded during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, will be taking part in the appeal.

He was badly injured as he stood on an improvised explosive device (IED) as he patrolled with his Royal Irish Regiment colleagues in Helmand province back in 2010.

The Galgorm man who has taken part in various fund-raising events and challenges since his injury has called on Ballymena to get behind this appeal.

Phillip said: “This charity was there for me when I needed them and I hope that the people of Ballymena will join me in raising funds for them.”

The appeal will run until March 22 and Ballymena people are being urged to hold events such as Quiz Nights, Coffee Mornings, Raffles or Collections to raise money for soldiers’ welfare.

ABF Director NI, David Forsey said, “I am happy to support any effort for our charity – people should feel free to call or email me for help and advice.”

For further information about fund-raising the charity can be contacted on 02892 678112, email ni@soldierscharity.org or visit www.justgiving.com/ABFNI-Forward