The Not Forgotten Association - A Tri-Service Charity

As we continue to commemorate the centenary of WWI, a small tri-service charity carries on with its near century-long work of bringing comradeship, hope and happiness to thousands of serving men and women who are wounded, injured or sick and to veterans with disabilities or illnesses, irrespective of whether their health problems arose during service or subsequently.

The Not Forgotten Association (NFA) was founded in 1920 for the ‘comfort, cheer and entertainment’ of servicemen injured in WWI by Marta Cunningham CBE, an American soprano who performed at venues such as Claridges before the Great War. During a visit to a Ministry of Pensions hospital a year after the war ended Marta saw ‘listless men who took no notice of my coming or of my going. Were these really the young enthusiastic men who went to a nation’s rescue?’ She soon set about mobilising her friends to invite these wounded men for afternoon tea and entertainment. Not long afterwards these ladies approached HRH Princess Mary to be the Association’s first Royal Patron, a tradition which has been maintained to this day – HRH The Princess Royal in the current Patron - and which has afforded the NFA the unique privilege of being able to hold its own annual Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and Christmas Tea Party at St James’s Palace.

The aim, purpose and ideals laid down by Marta Cunningham – ‘to act generally for the benefit of service and ex-service personnel with disabilities or who are wounded’ - remain in force 95 years later and the NFA’s unique role is as relevant as ever.

Each year several thousand eligible serving and ex-service men and women are invited to take part in the charity’s tailored programme of outings, holidays, events, concerts and Royal Parties. Beneficiaries of all ages, from all the Armed Services, Regular or Reserve, whenever and whenever they served, are welcome. The NFA can also provide televisions and TV Licences to those who are housebound or have limited mobility. The breadth of their support is summed up in their motto: ‘From Comradeship To Challenge’.

The NFA’s Head of Events, Rosie Thompson, says: “Our aim is to provide comradeship, comfort, fun, a lift to the spirits and, for those recovering from their injuries, a sense of challenge. We enable like-minded people to spend time together and to share their experiences. We’re really in the business of giving deserving people something to which they can look forward and of putting a smile back on their faces.”

As a small charity without the resources for formal fundraising, the NFA relies totally on the goodwill and generosity of those who recognise the value of its work. To enable it to carry out its programme of activities, the Association does receive valuable assistance from Help for Heroes and other major service charities. It is equally appreciative of the donations, legacies and fundraising money it receives from individuals, associations and trusts as well as the support of those who volunteer their time to support its charitable activities.

The charity receives hundreds of emails, texts, letters and phone calls of thanks. The comments of one young beneficiary, paralysed following a road accident, typify many of them: “You have taken me on a number of trips now, each of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I will have lasting memories of them all. They have been a brilliant aid in getting me active and enjoying life again since my injury. I can’t be more thankful. I know everyone I have spoken to thinks very highly of all the work that you do. It is massively appreciated”.
Stacks Image 8148
Stacks Image 1860
Young and old shoulder to shoulder on a battlefield tour to Normandy
Stacks Image 1844
The Queen meeting War Pensioners at the NFA's Buckingham Palace Garden Party
Stacks Image 3936
Enjoying a skiing holiday in France
Stacks Image 3952
Injured service men and women taking on the 3 Peaks Challenge
Stacks Image 3968
Bringing people together at Christmas