Sheffield veterans take trip down memory lane

Brian Kay talks to Natasha Wilson about his time in Korea at a veterans reminiscence event hosted by Age UK
Brian Kay talks to Natasha Wilson about his time in Korea at a veterans reminiscence event hosted by Age UK
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Military veterans were given the chance to take a walk down memory lane, share stories and show off memorabilia at a special event in Sheffield.

Military Memories, organised by the Sheffield branch of Age UK at Centre in the Park, Norfolk Park, enabled former servicemen and women to come together to enjoy tea and cake while sharing wartime stories and listening to music from the World War Two era.

The delighted veterans were also entertained by a Vera Lynn impersonator, who performed classics such as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover.

Among them was one former Sheffield soldier who revealed he was sketched by legendary animator Walt Disney.

Brian Kay, aged 83, a driver in the Royal Signals, served in the Korean War between 1952 and 1953 and during his tour of duty Brian and his fellow troops were visited by Walt at their base.

Walt, who visited to entertain the troops, made a sketch of 18-year-old Brian – and today it is one of the pensioner’s most treasured possessions.

He proudly showed off the sketch at the Military Memories event.

Brian, of Lower Stannington, said: “Walt came to entertain the troops. He went around the different regiments giving drawings out.

“He was very welcoming. He was a very nice man. He was sitting on a chair at a table and said does anybody want a drawing and a sketch?.

Brian, who spent 14 months in Korea during the war, added that Walt also drew a portrait of him which he has now lost.

He also showed off his Korean War Service Medal and United Nations Medal, received in recognition of his efforts in the war, as well as a photo album of pictures from his days in the army.

Army veteran Frank Smith, aged 86, said: “It was wonderful today. Just everything was great. I have had a fantastic time and would come to something like this again.”

Frank, who served in the Royal Engineers from 1948 to 1950,said he enjoyed speaking to other veterans.

Fellow veteran Brian Kelly, of Norfolk Park, said: “It has been good to get out, I haven’t been able to get out recently because I fell over. It has been great to chat to so many people.”

The 86-year-old, who served as an engineer in the RAF, said he thought the Vera Lynn impersonator was the highlight, adding: “I more or less loved it all.”

The event was set up as part of Age UK’s Aged Veterans Service, a new project to support veterans by offering them help with a variety of everyday needs such as such applying for disability grants and benefits.

Mark Egglestone, independent living co-ordinator, for Age UK in Sheffield, said: “We have always supported people who have been in the armed forces.

“If they have a grant they need to apply for and it requires an application form we write it in their behalf - people can find these forms quite demanding when they first get them through the post.”

Mark, aged 37, said the charity is also looking to hold more events like Military Memories to help veterans maintain independence and stop them feeling isolated.

“People who have been in the services value their independence a lot more because a lot of the roles that they have done in the past.

“They might not be able to do what they used to do but we are working with them to support them.”

The Aged Veterans Service is funded by the Ministry of Defence, with cash being sourced from fines levied on the banking industry.

n For more on Age UK Sheffield and the Aged Veterans Service call 0114 250 2850.