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Veterans Today

Age UK helping veterans relive days gone by

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Brian Percival, Aged Veterans Support Worker for Age UK Yorkshire and Humber branch has been involved in the ‘Mission Possible’ project working with the Yorkshire Film Archive. The Project was set up to help aged veterans by showing short films that were recorded in the 1940s and 50s to veterans.

These include footage of Thornton Home Guard training as well as the Women’s Land Army and munitions work. The films are rare for that period because they are mostly in colour.

Financed through the LIBOR fund on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, Age UK Yorkshire and Humber branch have been working with aged veterans since last summer in order to help them 'rediscover' memories and stimulate conversation.

Ernest Shackleton and colleagues, Copyright Age UK, All rights reserved
Ernest Shackleton and colleagues, Copyright Age UK, All rights reserved

The screenings have been taking place across the area at various older people’s community groups and have encouraged veterans to talk about their lives in the services during the 40s and 50s, both during Active and National Service.

Brian said:

For veterans suffering from memory loss, these sessions have been really helpful. The secret to the success of this project is the films themselves – they bring the sessions alive because everyone shares their memories and the footage is such a delight to watch.

Within minutes, the conversations are flowing and there are some fantastic stories being shared, it's amazing what you learn. This really is such a great resource!

Veterans invited to the film sessions are able to access further social activities and Age UK services.

We want to ensure that our older veterans realise that the experiences they have had whilst in service are important and valued. We have been working in a variety of ways to do this, one way is by taking both veterans and veterans’ family into local schools. Here they talk to pupils in conversation, supporting the curriculum they follow from Art to Citizenship.

We have also been recording some of these memories and documenting memorabilia, photo’s, medals and papers. We do this by visiting veterans in their own homes. This is important, particularly for maintaining contact with those veterans with mobility problems in order to help reduce feelings of isolation.

The recorded stories and experiences will eventually be made into a school teaching resource pack that can be used in the future.

Ernest Shackleton and regiment, Copyright Age UK, All rights reserved
Ernest Shackleton and regiment, Copyright Age UK, All rights reserved

If you would like more information or to get involved in helping aged veterans across West Yorkshire please contact:

Brian Percival
Aged Veterans Support Officer,
Age UK Bradford

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