Lottery scheme aids veterans’ return

Yvette Cooper will be meeting WW2 veterans, Frank Smithey, Ken Stephenson and Geoff Towers. (p604a424)
Yvette Cooper will be meeting WW2 veterans, Frank Smithey, Ken Stephenson and Geoff Towers. (p604a424)

Veterans from the Second World War are being invited to take advantage of a scheme which helps fund commemorative visits to the area they served.

The Heroes Return scheme, run by the Big Lottery Fund, offers grants of between £165 and £8,140 for former service personnel to return to countries they served in.

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper spent the 70th anniversary of D-Day last Friday with veterans and encouraged more former troops to take advantage of the scheme.

She met Geoff Towers, who flew 40 missions as part of bomber command, Ken Stephenson who served in Italy and Greece and Frank Smithey, who arrived in Normandy three days after D-Day and crossed all the way to the Rhine with the Royal Engineers.

Ms Cooper said: “Our country owes so much to people like Geoff, Ken and Frank. It was an honour to share their stories and mark the 70th anniversary of D-day remembering everyone who fought and died for our freedom.

“The Heroes Return scheme is a fantastic opportunity for people to make those commemorative visits to pay their own tributes.

“The only criteria is that someone actively served during the war, and I’d encourage anyone who is eligible to get in touch directly with the organisers or to contact my office and we can help make enquiries.”

A spokeswoman for the Big Lottery Fund said: “We would like to put out a call to World War Two veterans across the Five Towns that the Big Lottery Fund has extended its Heroes Return 2 programme until December 2015 to enable veterans to apply for funding.

“We are proud to have awarded more than £28m to more than 57,000 World War Two veterans, widows, spouses and carers across the UK under the programme.”

For more information about the scheme or to apply for a grant visit or call 0945 0000 121.