A veteran from Leeds has issued a rallying cry to get his fellow ex-servicemen to apply for funding to go on their own emotional journeys.
World War II veterans will be able to apply for money to help them go on a second commemorative visit under the Heroes Return 2 programme from the Big Lottery Fund.
Derek Vickers, 85, from Leeds, is urging other heroes to take up the offer after he went on a Heroes Return visit to Italy last September, to revisit the country he first saw during his time with the Merchant Navy.
Derek, who joined up in 1943 when he was aged just 16, said: “I wanted to go and see what it was like now. Also, during the war I was offshore and so my perspective was different. Although the war was so long ago it all came back to me. On my visit there were two other veterans in my group. It was really wonderful and very emotional.”
More than £25 million has been awarded to more than 52,000 Second World War veterans, widows, spouses and carers across the country for journeys in the UK, France, Germany, the Middle East and the Far East. From today, veterans will be able to apply again.
Vanessa White, Big Lottery Fund Head of Yorkshire and Humber region, said: “It is for me a very real honour to announce that our Second World War veterans who have already been on a Heroes Return commemorative visit can now be supported to make another journey to where they fought or served. They let us know how important these visits are to them - whether it be a trip to London’s Cenotaph or a visit to the beaches of Normandy.
Contact the Heroes Return helpline on 0845 00 00 121 or visit: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/heroesreturn