THE HUSBAND and wife team behind Troop Aid have been handed a prestigious award on behalf of the charity.
Founded in 2006 by former servicemen Albert Sutton, Ray Warren and Derek Joss, Troop Aid has gone from strength to strength and received widespread recognition for its work alongside the Defence Medical Welfare Service.
We revealed earlier this year how the organisation had been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2014 – the second Royal seal of approval for the Solihull based charity, which supports injured soldiers around the world, and boasts HRH Prince Charles as its patron.
And Captain Al Sutton and his wife Pam were handed the award – a certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal – during a special civic ceremony (pictured) led by West Midlands Deputy Lieutenant David Bradnock .
They will also receive an invitation for representatives to attend one of the Royal Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace.
Speaking to The Observer when the award was first announced Captain Al Sutton, who at the aged of 76 still works almost every day in the Troop Aid headquarters in Shirley, said the charity’s efforts are constantly rewarded through the gratification of the injured troops and their families, but the receiving of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was a welcomed official commendation for all the hard work of everyone involved.
“We are so pleased and proud to have received this magnificent award – it is a great thank you to everyone involved for everything they have done in the last eight years,” he added.
“We can’t believe how far we have come in such a short time and are committed to continuing to do all we can to support our injured troops all around the world.
“Receiving praise from Her Majesty The Queen is a real inspiration for us to keep up the hard work.”
Troop Aid is among just 11 groups in the West Midlands, and 110 nationally, to be handed the award that is the group equivalent to an MBE. Many hundreds more were nominated.
The charity’s key role is to supply troops recovering at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital with basic supplies through a specially created ‘Troop Aid grab bag’ containing clothing, footwear, shaving and washing kits, confectionary, videos and books and a mobile phone for injured the troops to contact their loved ones.
But it also sends the grab bags out to injured troops – British and allied – across the world.
Troop Aid – and its supporters and fundraisers – have raised over £2million since its inception.
This money has also seen a Troop Aid family room at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where injured soldiers can relax and recuperate and enjoy family visits.
Two cheques, each for £10,000, were presented to Troop Aid at the ceremony to mark its Royal recognition.
One of them came from the High Sheriff for the West Midlands, Dr Tim Watts, who spoke at the ceremony of his pride in Troop Aid.
Colonel Sara Hurley, commanding officer of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, gave the other cheque from its Patient Welfare Fund.
The centre is the main unit receiving injured personnel from overseas.
Mr Sutton said the event marked a memorable day for Troop Aid and pledged it would continue its work for as long as it was needed.
He said: “It’s been a privilege to support very many servicemen and women and their families.”
But he told a packed chamber: “This very special award is predominantly for the many volunteers and supporters who have been the backbone of Troop Aid.”
Captain Al Sutton and wife Pam with their Queen’s award.