Blackpool FC Community Trust column: Serving Callum and our Armed Forces community

Blackpool FC Community Trust is dedicated to improving the lives of people in our town.

Saturday, 26th June 2021, 12:30 pm

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We do this through delivering a variety of programmes to increase social inclusion opportunities, improve physical fitness, health and education, and lessen involvement in antisocial behaviour.

Saturday was Armed Forces Day, a chance to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community,from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans and cadets.

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BFCCT's Forces Football side represent their town in tournaments

Justin is a community engagement officer at BFCCT who supports our Armed Forces activities.

He highlighted how these sessions are about more than just football. This is what Justin had to say:

“At the start of summer, I was contacted by a former soldier who enquired about the ‘Forces Football’ session run by Blackpool FCCommunity Trust.

“Various posts had been published on social media and the response was great. The former soldier was a lad named Callum ‘Sandy’ Sanderson, who is only just in his twenties.

“Blackpool born and bred, Callum had joined the Queens Royal Hussars Tank Regiment and was based for a time in the south of England.

“Sadly, his career was cut short by a shoulder injury which prevented him from continuing in this role.

“Having only just left the forces, Callum returned to his home town and got in touch with BFCCT.

“I spoke with Callum on the phone and quickly realised that he did not have many military friends or support in the area.

“He was out of work and looking to get himself back on his feet as quickly as possible.

“I invited him down to Forces Football and introduced him to all the lads. After a couple of sessions, we all began to bond and the military banter soon started.

“Callum is now a regular at Forces Football and veterans are on hand to help with advice and support.

“One thing we all have in common is that we have all left the military and have been in Callum’s boots.

“Recently, when we were made aware that Callum was still out of work, the team came together to help him out off the pitch.

“Forces Football’s longest-serving player, Gary Edwards, was able to offer Callum employment at his company, Lateo.

“Gary served in the Royal Artillery and completed five operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“He now runs Lateo Risk, a security consultancy, and is a keen supporter of ex-serviceman. Over 20 per cent of his employees are veterans.

“Along with Lateo Risk, Gary and another Forces Football member, Jason Elmsley, opened Lateo in South Shore.

“On the first Sunday of every month, they hold a veterans’ coffee morning. BFCCT volunteer Marianna Mitchell is always in attendance to offer support and advice to former service personnel.

“Marianna’s daughter also works for Lateo, providing a vital link between military and civilian life.

“Forces Football is much more than a kickaround on a Thursday and has had such a positive impact on veterans who attend. Fitness in body helps fitness in mind.

“Callum now has the support of his new veteran family, a weekly social and physical activity with Forces Football and has gained employment!”

It was great to hear that the Forces Football sessions are having such a positive impact on our Armed Forces community.

“If you are in serving personnel yourself or a veteran, why not join in Forces Football on Thursday evenings?”

BFCCT also hold veterans’ coffee mornings, which are currently taking place virtually on Zoom.

There is also the opportunity to join our gardening group, who help to maintain the gardens and memorial plaques at the Blackpool and Fylde Arboretum in Bispham.

For more information on any of the above please email [email protected], call 01253 348 691, visit www.bfcct.co.uk or follow BFCCT on social media.

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