The Trustees of the Falklands Veterans Foundation (FVF) welcome you to the FVF and Liberty Lodge website.
The Falklands Veterans Foundation (FVF) was the first UK based charity for Falklands Veterans and their immediate families and is committed to providing a network of support and direction for those in need.
The FVF works in partnership with all other Service Charities and organisations providing assistance for Falklands Veterans and their families.
The FVF is available to point you in the right direction whether it is financial or to assist with any difficulties you are encountering. Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 20 March 2020 Liberty Lodge was closed temporarily due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Sadly numerous pilgrimages had to be cancelled. Smokey Cole, CEO of the FVF felt that it was
imperative that Liberty Lodge did not stand empty, so with the approval of the FVF Trustees,
Liberty Lodge was offered to KEMH (Stanley Hospital) during the time that Veterans, their families and
Next of Kin of those servicemen Killed in Action could not visit the Falkland Islands and stay at
Liberty Lodge. KEMH decided to take up the offer and are using the Lodge for their long-term patients.
Thanks to Ali Dodd, Gary and Linda Clement and the hospital staff a majority of the Lodge's contents were
moved into storage, which was supplied by the Falkland Island Government. It has made such a difference
to the patients, they and the hospital staff are enjoying the wonderful views that all the visitors of
the Lodge experience, along with the tranquillity and atmosphere of the Lodge - a great success and the
FVF are delighted that they could offer something back to the Falkland Island Community.
We know that the Falkland Island Government (FIG) and KEMH are extremely grateful for the use of the Liberty Lodge, but our special thanks also go to them as well. Ali, Liberty Lodge's Manager was unable to carry out her full duties so the FIG's Treasury Department authorised Furlough payments and then decided to offer Ali a temporary contract at the hospital, hopefully until such time that she can return to Liberty Lodge as its Manager.
At present, the Falkland Islands are COVID-19 free and let us hope this continues. From everyone at the FVF, we wish all the Falkland Islanders well. Take care and keep safe and hopefully in the not too distant future our Veterans and families will be able to return to the Falkland Islands and Liberty Lodge to pay their respects to those who are still on patrol.
Sunday, 29 May 2022 at 1100 - A Memorial Service will be held at the Falklands Gardens in Gosport, Hampshire followed by a Freedom of the Borough Parade and Reception. All South Atlantic Medal Holders and Next of Kin of those Killed in Action are invited to attend. More details to follow, April 2021.
On 3 February 2019 Liberty Lodge had been open for 10 years. Smokey, Karen and other Veterans
travelled over to the FI to host a reception for their sponsors and supporters of the Lodge.
Also in attendance was HE, The Governor, Nigel Phillips and Commander of British Forces South Atlantic, Brig Nick Sawyer. A hot buffet lunch was provided by the Malvina Hotel and all had an enjoyable afternoon.
Liberty Lodge is still extremely popular and hosts many Veterans and Next of Kin of servicemen Killed in Action. "The Lodge's success is down to one simple factor, it is a home for them to come to which a lot of the Veterans pick up on", says Ali Dodd, Liberty Lodge's Manager.
The day before Liberty Lodge celebrated its 10th Anniversary, Gary and Linda Clement's wedding took place at the Lodge. Gary, who is a FVF Trustee, asked Smokey Cole to officiate the ceremony and was granted a special licence to be permitted to do this. Linda commented that Smokey looked more nervous than the bride and groom!
This restricted funding is to assist with the cost of flights to the Falkland Islands for a Next of
Kin of a serviceman Killed in Action and Veterans who are unable to secure a CFP Flight, to visit
battlefields, war graves and memorials to remember those 'still on patrol'. The award comes ahead of
the 35th anniversary of the conflict in 2017. If you are a Next of Kin of a serviceman who was Killed
in Action and wish to apply for an Assisted Flight Application Form, please email email@example.com.
Derek 'Smokey' Cole, Chief Executive of the Falklands Veterans Foundation said: "The Falklands Veterans Foundation are absolutely delighted to be awarded this funding for Veterans and immediate Next of Kin of those Killed in Action during the Falklands War, to assist with the costs of flights to the Islands to allow them to lay ghosts to rest and pay their respects to those still on patrol in the South Atlantic. It also ensures that Liberty Lodge, built for the use of Veterans and families of those Killed in Action, is used to its full potential."
Lt Col Tony Davies OBE, FVF Chairman said:
"Wonderful news of securing a grant of £550K from the LIBOR fines. A huge 'coup' fronted by the CEO and Operations Manager, securing the cost towards flights for Veterans and immediate Next of Kin of those Killed in Action, to and from Liberty Lodge over the next three years. We are extremely grateful to the administrators of the Fund for considering the Falklands Veterans Foundation in this grant."
Our thanks go to Falklands Xtreme Sports. They make regular donations to Liberty Lodge which enabled a new range cooker to be purchased in 2019. As the Lodge is a self-catering facility it is important to have all the 'mod cons' and the old cooker was on its last legs!! Falklands Xtreme Sports run a monthly 'Lotto' in the FI and continue to be great supporters - our thanks go to them, for choosing Liberty Lodge as one of their beneficiaries, and everyone that takes part in the Lotto.
Baz Avery who served on board HMS Coventry in the Falklands Conflict 1982 completed the
Everest Base Camp Challenge in April 2019 and raised a fantastic £5,705.00 for the FVF.
A flag was especially made so Baz could raise it once his challenge was complete.
These funds will greatly assist the FVF to continue with its charitable objectives which includes donating funds to Liberty Lodge, especially in the form of purchasing items in the UK and shipping them over the Falkland Islands. Baz funded the challenge himself so every penny raised via the Charity Checkout page that he set up has gone to the FVF. Baz spent months training for this challenge and is delighted, as are we, for all the support he received from his donors, this included family members, the general public, Falkland Islanders themselves and the Seafish Chandlery in the Falkland Islands.
Smokey and Karen Cole, CEO and Operations Manager of the FVF respectively, met up with Baz at the HMS Coventry Reunion on 25 May 2019 for the cheque presentation. This day was particularly poignant as it marked the 37th Anniversary of HMS Coventry being sunk. After a moving service held at the Falklands Memorial in Old Portsmouth, Baz presented the cheque to Smokey Cole in the sum of £5620, further donations were received after the presentation which 'upped' the total to a fantastic £5705.
This is not the first time Baz has raised funds for the FVF, he says "Providing I can stay fit enough to take on these kind of challenges I intend carrying on raising funds for the FVF. The charity has done so much for me in the past and I want to continue to show my appreciation. Although I have a few ideas for the next challenge I'm open to suggestions. If anyone has some ideas of their own then please get in touch."
Our special thanks go to Sodexo Defence, the Falkland Island Company, Stanley Services,
SAMA FI Trust, South Atlantic Trading and Falklands Xtreme
Sports for their continued support.
The FVF are also extremely grateful to the ABF The Soldiers' Charity, the national charity of the British Army who continually support the FVF and Liberty Lodge by making annual grants which enables us to keep the Lodge up to a high standard for visiting Army Veterans and their families. A further grant of £10,000 was received in August 2020 even during this unprecedented time. Please read an article which was published in July 2019: https://soldierscharity.org/the-soldiers-charity-helps-falklands-veterans-pay-their-respects/
Our thanks go to Alan 'Sharkey' Ward who served on HMS Herald during the 1982 Conflict. Whilst holding the position of Worshipful Master at Charles Dickens Lodge, he chose Liberty Lodge as one of his Charities and during his 4th deployment in the Falkland Islands he presented a cheque to Smokey Cole in the sum of £1,500 - see pictures below. Smokey said, "It was an honour to receive this cheque from Sharkey and we had a great weekend at the Lodge."
Sharkey also got married in July 2019 to JoJo and instead of receiving wedding gifts, decided to raise funds for the FVF, so their families and friends made donations via Charity Checkout and they raised just £7,240. In addition to this, JoJo's company, Pick Utilities Ltd made a donation of £1,260.00 which brought the overall total to £10,000.
A special thank you goes to both Sharkey and JoJo for all their support, not forgetting all their family and friends for making their donations to the FVF.
During 2019, the FVF and Liberty Lodge have received donations from different Masonic
Lodges, namely Charles Dickens Lodge No 8597, Hermes Lodge No 5532 and Moira Lodge No
92A (thanks to Dave Grocott who served on HMS Alacrity in 1982), for which the charity is most grateful.
Many thanks to all, we couldn't run and maintain Liberty Lodge without this kind of support and the donations left by Liberty Lodge's visitors.
We are pleased to report that over 200 people attended the social evening held on Saturday, 20 May 2017 at the WO's & SR's Mess,
HMS Sultan and it was a great success. The evening included light entertainment and a pig roast.
On Sunday, 21 May 2017, approx. 250 Veterans attended a Memorial Service and Freedom Parade arranged by Gosport Borough Council in partnership with Hampshire County Council and the FVF. On conclusion of the Memorial Service, which took place at the Falkland Gardens, the Freedom Parade was led by the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Collingwood. The Salute was taken by the Worshipful the Mayor of Gosport, Councillor Mrs Linda Batty, Rear Admiral Iain Henderson CB, CBE, DL and Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB, ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff. A reception for approx. 700 people was held on completion at Walpole Park, this included the Veterans themselves along with their families.
Ellen started as Liberty Lodge's Manager in November 2009 and during her tenure took pride in welcoming all visitors to the
Lodge and due to her first-hand knowledge of the Islands assisted in making everyone's stay a special one. Ellen was
due to retire in
October 2016, so Smokey Cole, FVF CEO and his wife, Karen, FVF Operations Manager, made the long journey down South to
present Ellen with an
engraved cut glass whisky decanter and tumblers. As it turned out Ellen stayed in her position until we found a suitable
replacement and left
in January 2017. We wish Ellen all the very best in her retirement and thank her for the dedication that she has shown,
not only to the FVF but
to all its visitors as well.
It was with great sadness that Ellen passed away on 13 September 2018 and sadly did not have a lot of time to enjoy her retirement.
Ellen, fondly known as 'Mother' to many, made such an impression on the Veterans and the families that had the privilege to meet her. Approx 700 Veterans visited the Lodge during Ellen's time as Liberty Lodge’s Manager and I think we can safely say that she enjoyed hosting all of the Lodge's visitors, well most anyway!! She was such a character and dedicated to making all of the Lodge's visitors welcome and arranging their trips for them, she was supportive and nothing was too much trouble. We will all keep fond memories of her.
Our sincere thanks go to Iain Thom from Interserve, who kindly agreed to re-stain Liberty Lodge. Ian gathered a team of men from Interserve who all worked extremely hard to weatherproof the Lodge for a further few years, it is now in pristine condition.
The FVF would like to thank Baz Avery, who served on HMS Coventry in the 1982 which was sunk in action on 25 May 1982 with the tragic loss of 19 men,
for all his support and hard work in raising funds for the FVF and Liberty Lodge. This is the second fundraiser he has done for us but this one took a
lot of stamina.
Baz said: "With the Falklands being over 8,000 miles away from the UK it makes it difficult for Veterans to revisit the Islands and pay their respects to fallen comrades.
I have been fortunate enough to do this - largely due to the existence of Liberty Lodge located in Stanley, the capital of the Falklands. Liberty Lodge is a fully-equipped accommodation in beautiful surroundings overlooking Stanley Harbour. This is used by the Veterans during their stay and provides a wonderful environment to relax in when they're not visiting the battlefields, cemeteries and locations important to them. For me it played a major part in my coming to terms with that whole episode in my life and the loss of my shipmates."
Baz did a Marathon Row on Saturday, 29 October 2016 at Colne Valley Leisure Centre, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield and raised a total of £2,054.09. The total included £442.37, thanks to a tremendous effort by Hamish Wylie and his staff at the Seafish Chandlery, based in the Falkland Islands. They did a great job of collecting donations from the Falkland Islanders themselves. The FVF would like to give their sincere thanks to Baz's family and all his supporters in raising this fantastic amount.
Dickie Dawson says:
"The Camping and Caravan Branch of SAMA82 is a group of likeminded people who enjoy camping together in an informal way. We hold about 3 meets a year. At each meet we do some kind of fundraising for a chosen charity. Over recent years our chosen charity has been Liberty Lodge. Our main meet is at Aeroventure Museum at Doncaster. This is a museum full of old aircraft and associated memorabilia. Part of the museum is set aside for a collection of Falklands War artefacts; in fact, the collection is one of the largest in the UK. Our fundraising consists of raffles, scratch cards and other similar activities."
A small reception was held at Liberty Lodge on 1 November 2015 when the CEO, Smokey Cole, visited the Islands. It was a small affair to say thank you to our sponsors and some of the helpers in the Falkland Islands. Some of those in attendance were His Excellency The Governor Colin Roberts CVO, Commodore Darren Bone RN, Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands and his wife Mrs Jessica Bone, Christina Williams representing Sodexo, John Foster, Managing Director and Roger Spink representing the Falkland Island Company, Robert Rowlands representing Stanley Services and Andrea Clausen and Leeann Harris from Falkland Island Tourist and Travel. A few of the dedicated drivers were also invited along with Gary Clement, MBE, FVF Trustee who plays a major part in the success of Liberty Lodge and also the Veterans who were staying in the Lodge at the time and of course not forgetting Ellen Davis, Liberty Lodge Manager.
Adriana Groisman is an Argentinian journalist/photographer living in New York, who, for the past decade or so has interviewed many Veterans as well as civilians involved in all sides of the Falklands War of 1982. Voices of the Tempest, her book, contains many unbiased interviews and photographs dealing with the aftermath experienced by all since 1982. A dedicated, historical, moving record reported as was spoken with many Veterans and families on both sides quoted. In the course of her work Adriana visited The Falkland Islands, Great Britain and Argentina. A truly great record and one which deserves all our support. Read more...
Russell Watson becomes an Ambassador of the FVF and is presented a picture of Liberty Lodge and a South Atlantic tie by Simon Weston at the Union Jack Club in December 2013. To watch this presentation please click on the video below.
In October 2013, ABF The Soldiers' Charity, the national charity of the British Army, funded a Gurkha Pilgrimage (1/7 Gurkha Rifles) to
the Falkland Islands which was arranged by the FVF (read Dilli Gurung's account).
They visited between 12 - 18 October and were accommodated at FVF Liberty Lodge and with local families. The places they
visited whilst on the Islands included San Carlos Cemetery, Goose Green, Ajax Bay, Teal Inlet, Mount Kent and Mount William,
Two Sisters, Bluff Cove, Government House and a helicopter ride to Port Stephens. Quotes from a report written by Jai Seventh:
'The trip was a resounding success and a great experience for all the veterans. Everyone has immensely enjoyed the trip. This trip was not only a chance to revisit the Falklands, but it was also a great opportunity to meet again with all the old friends from the regiment with some of whom we had not met for many years. I on behalf of the Gurkha veterans group would like to express my sincere gratitude to Derek 'Smokey' Cole and Colonel Tony Davies who made our dreams to revisit the Falklands come true. Furthermore, thank you to Gary, Ellen, Joe and Maj Bishnu Ghale for their great contribution to the trip.
The most touching moment of the entire visits was visiting the memorial of those soldiers killed during the conflict and to see and walk over the grounds where we lived and fought. It was a great experience and brought back all the great and distant memories out of us.'
Neil Martin from the CRS (Catering & Rations Sqn) at MPC presented a cheque for £1,200 to the FVF after they held a 'Ready Steady Cook' charity event. Neil commented, "Liberty Lodge is not only a worthwhile cause but it is also one way in which we can still support our Veterans and give them somewhere warm and safe to stay whilst on the Islands."
The FVF would like to thank Baz Avery (ex HMS Coventry) and Sarah for organising a Fundraising Night in May 2015 where they raised an amazing £1,800. A thank you also goes to all who attended the event and helped raise the funds for Liberty Lodge.
Corporal Akash Tamang from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regt organised a charity event titled 'Gurkha 200 Falklands Challenge' in April 2015. Eight men set off for the 200km challenge on 2 April and finished the whole challenge on 3 April 2015. The route from Port San Carlos to Stanley via Goose Green was chosen to emulate the footsteps of 1/7 Duke of Edinburgh Own Gurkha Rifles in the 1982 Campaign and the challenge took just under 38 hours. The FVF feel very fortunate to be one of the named charities and Akash presented a cheque for £700 to Gary Clement MBE, Trustee of the FVF.
ABF The Soldiers' Charity, the national charity of the British Army, continually support the FVF and Liberty Lodge by
making annual donations which enables us to keep the Lodge up to a high standard for visiting
Army Veterans and their families, for which we are extremely grateful.
Serving personnel from MPC continue to support the FVF and Liberty Lodge. Lt Owen Miller from ISS SAI MPC and his boys raised £250 after spending an afternoon cart racing. 1435 Flight did a charity run (35 miles) and raised £1435.00. Cpl Lauren McPherson took a group of people to Liberty Lodge and painted all the verandas.
Holbeach ACF raised £4,000 by participating in several sponsored events during the year. Tony Davies OBE, FVF Chairman and Smokey Cole, FVF CEO visited the Cadet HQ in Holbeach to receive the cheque and Tony was invited to inspect the cadets on parade. It was a very smart affair with Tony addressing the cadets and staff and thanking them for giving their time to support the FVF.
Shepherd Neame Brewery, Kent kindly produced a 30th Anniversary Ale and some of the proceeds from the sale of this, £4,000 were donated to the FVF.
The Falklands Veterans Foundation held a reception on Sunday, 31 January 2010 to celebrate Liberty Lodge's 1st Anniversary.
In attendance were His Excellency The Governor of the Falkland Islands Alan Huckle, Commodore Phillip Thicknesse, Commander
British Forces South Atlantic Islands and the many local sponsors who have assisted the FVF during the Lodge's first year.
The CEO FVF, Derek 'Smokey' Cole made a short speech and framed photographs of Liberty Lodge were presented to various sponsors as a token of appreciation for their continued support. Naming but a few, Sodexo, Falkland Island Company, Stanley Services and Falkland Islands Tours and Travel Ltd. The FVF are very grateful to them for their continued support.
HRH The Princess Royal visited Liberty Lodge on 24 March 2009; six Veterans were present for this memorable occasion. HRH The Princess Royal
stopped at the Falkland Islands on her way to a planned visit to South Georgia.
HRH spent 1 and a half hours at the Lodge viewing the facilities and chatting to the Veterans and several local residents that had also been invited to the small reception.
On 24 August 2005, more than 150 Falklands Veterans gathered in Gosport for a poignant ceremony and parade to be granted the Honorary
Freedom of the Borough.
An emotional ceremony was followed by a march past from the Falklands Gardens to the Town Hall, where the salute was taken by Lady Fieldhouse, Gosport Mayor Graham Burgess and Rear Admiral Jeremy Larkin DSO.
The Veterans felt honoured that the town had taken them under its wing and made sure that their bravery will never be forgotten.