Ladies and gentlemen, it is a huge pleasure to welcome you to Buckingham Palace today to celebrate the 75th anniversary of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. I should like, first, to pass on the warmest wishes of your Patron, Her Majesty The Queen.
As many of you will know, the Charity was formed by the War Cabinet in 1944, shortly before D-Day. It was originally known as “The Fund for the Soldier”. Its aim was to ensure the millions of soldiers returning from the War received the welfare support that had been so sorely lacking for those returning home in 1918. As The Times noted, the Fund had “an object none can question because the soldier is what it’s all about”.
As the proud daughter of a highly decorated World War II Cavalry Officer, I salute this wholehearted focus on the soldier that has carried you through the past 75 years.The Charity’s central purpose and relevance have not changed over the passage of time: you continue to work to allow soldiers, veterans and their immediate families to live lives of independence and dignity, now and in the future.
Just as the Nation owed a debt to all those who served in the Second World War, so we continue to owe a debt to those who serve our country today. I am therefore particularly delighted to see several of the Charity’s beneficiaries here this evening, and I look forward to meeting them shortly. Of course, none of your work would be possible without the ABF’s enthusiastic supporters, staff and volunteers, so I should like to thank and congratulate you all for everything you do to ensure the soldier is still what it’s all about.