Campaign to support unemployed military veterans is unveiled at Preston railway station

A new campaign to support unemployed veterans in the North West has been unveiled in Preston.

By Tom Earnshaw, Reporter
Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 3:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 4:20 pm
Lancashire County Councillor Alf Clempson and Rowley Greg, CEO of Remembered / There But Not There with the bootprints at Preston Train Station. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Lancashire County Councillor Alf Clempson and Rowley Greg, CEO of Remembered / There But Not There with the bootprints at Preston Train Station. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

The installation of Bootprints, representing the British servicemen and women who fought during D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, is raising funds for what charity chiefs are calling a serious issue within the veteran community.

The Bootprints, which first appeared at Slapton Sands last month to commemorate 75 years since the Exercise Tiger large-scale rehearsals for the D-Day invasion of Normandy, are now making their way across the country.

The North West installation has appeared at Preston railway station, which was the site of one of last year’s Tommy installations, commemorating one hundred years since the end of the First World War.

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The campaign is designed to encourage businesses and individuals living in the region to support veterans who are unemployed.

The latest statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in its Annual Population Survey show that the veteran employment crisis shows no signs of abating across the country.

Rowley Gregg MC, Director of Operations at There But Not There, said: "Unemployment is an ongoing issue within the veterans community. We need to do more to support this community of people that have done so much to protect our freedoms.

"I can think of no more appropriate time to draw attention to the plight of unemployed veterans than on the 75th anniversary of D-Day."

Bootprint on the the floor of Preston Train Station. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Gregg, who saw action in Afghanistan in Operation Panther’s Claw in Helmand Province and was awarded the Military Cross for his courageous actions in the operation, added: "The sale of these plaques and Bootprints is not just about commemorating the sacrifices made by a great generation, but also aims to make a real difference to the lives of our current veterans who are seeking meaningful employment."

At Preston Station 75 pairs of Bootprints – based on the iconic Second World War Ammo Boot – now make their way along the main concourse.

They are part of the latest campaign from Remembered, the armed forces charity behind the ‘There But Not There’ Tommy campaign, which ran last year to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

As installations of Bootprints appear at memorials, historical landmarks and community spaces across the UK, the charity is raising money for veteran employment projects through the sale of the Bootprint vinyls and Bootprint plaques.

Rowley Greg, CEO of Remembered / There But Not There and County Councillor Alf Clempson with the bootprints at Preston Train Station. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Throughout the year, the charity has said it hopes to have each of the 22,763 British and Commonwealth servicemen and women who were killed on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy represented in homes up and down the country.

Martin Barraud, Chair of Trustees at ‘There But Not There’ and the artist responsible the installation, said: "75 years ago thousands of British soldiers, sailors and airmen were preparing to take part in the largest seaborne invasion in history.

"The scale and importance of their actions was immeasurable and paved the way to ending the Second World War on the Western Front and liberating millions of Europeans from tyranny.

"To see the Bootprints of those that fought and died for those liberties appear across the country is hugely gratifying.

"Our enduring hope is that it not only serves as a poignant act of commemoration, but that the public are inspired to buy their own piece of D-Day 75 remembrance to raise much needed funds for our veterans today.”

Each set of D-Day Bootprint vinyls can be purchased by schools, businesses and communities for £4.80 per pair. They can be set down in public spaces across the UK, creating a potent act of remembrance for those servicemen and women that fought to liberate occupied Europe in 1944.