The fund to help British D-Day veterans to attend ceremonies in Normandy this year had yesterday received pledges of more than £175,000. This, and other sums raised by the NVA, is enough to take all 500 fit British D-Day survivors back to the beaches. Mr Trevor Beattie, who helped set up the fund, has donated £30,000, and the comedian Eddie Izzard has promised to make up any shortfall.
The Big Lottery Fund yesterday offered to make a contribution towards veterans’ costs of attending events, and the Prime Minister said he wanted to be “very much part of the commemorations”, and that he hoped there would be a service in Westminster Abbey to remember a “great generation of heroes”. The NVA has rejected the belated National Lottery offer as it has already raised the money through its appeal.
Peter Hodge, secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA), said: “Ministers on the beaches is not really what we wanted or needed. We never complained about the Government not giving us money. We wanted this to be between the veterans and the British people. The public response to our appeal, first publicised in The Independent (newspaper), has already been fantastic.”
Trevor Beattie said: “Everyone who wants to support these magnificent men is very welcome. But it would have been courteous to recognise all that has already been done by Peter Hodge and myself and The Independent (newspaper).”
He added: “The job is already done. We already have enough money for the veterans to go to Normandy and probably enough to fund events, with live film links, for those who are not well enough to travel.”