Metropolitan Police officers supporting military charity

METROPOLITAN Police officers organised a charity football match in aid of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Two years ago, Sergeant Brian Fry, who has served for the Metropolitan Police for 30 years and is due to retire this year, wanted to put something in place to support the mental health of police officers who had also served in the military.

He enlisted the support of fellow officers Lee Maritza and Mohammed Chikhalia and together they set to work promoting the initiative and enlisting volunteers to make it work.

They formed a group within the Metropolitan Police where veterans can be supported with their mental health and they now have volunteers across the force.

Lee Maritza has served with the Metropolitan Police for nine years and prior to that, he spent seven years in the Army serving with 13 Air Assault based in Colchester. He said:

“Men often don’t talk about how they are feeling; we wanted to create a culture where we look out for one another’s mental health.

“There’s a lot of ex-servicemen and women within the force who have seen unimaginable sights during their service. I served in Afghanistan and witnessed the utter devastation caused by war.

“As part of my work with the group, last year I organised the inaugural Veteran’s Charity Cup. An 11-a-side football match whereby I led a team of military veterans against non-veteran police officers. It was great fun so we are now hoping to make it a yearly event.”

This year’s Veteran’s Charity Cup was held at Dagenham Sports Club and it was the East Area Police that took victory with a 5-3 win against the veteran team.

Lee said:

“My team was made up of a mix of serving police officers who had served in the military and players who are now retired from the force as well as being veterans. The average age was 50 but we gave the East Area Team a good game and were initially 2-0 up.”

Money raised from the Veteran’s Charity Cup over the past two years has been donated to Blind Veterans UK and almost £1,000 has now been presented to the military charity.

Lee said:

“The money we have raised is not bad for a couple of games of football! As a veteran myself, it means a lot to me to be able to support the veteran community. Those supported by Blind Veterans UK are often in a dark place when they first approach the charity, but the charity works with them to rehabilitate and support them to live as independently as possible following sight loss.”

If you are part of a group and would like to find out more about how you could support Blind Veterans UK, please visit our website: blindveterans.org.uk/support-us/fundraise-for-us.

Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.  

The charity also supports workers from the blue light services who have lost their sight while on duty.

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit blindveterans.org.uk/gethelp.