Charity worker nominated for national award
A charity worker who has supported over 12,000 people through a critical stage of their lives has been recognised nationally for his dedication.
Chris Francis, who works for the Royal Air Forces Association – the international charity that supports the RAF family – has been named as a finalist in this year’s Soldiering On Awards which celebrate the best of the Armed Forces community.
Ex-RAF sergeant Chris, who has been based at the charity’s South West office in Exeter since 1996, has been shortlisted in the Lifetime Achievement category.
While in the RAF, Chris saw a desperate need for free high-quality War Pension and benefits advice and representation among personnel whose employment had ended due to serious illness or injury. Often overwhelmed by their own challenging circumstances, they struggled to interpret and provide often complex information relating to their situation.
On leaving the Air Force, Chris became the Association’s War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme advisor. His early months were spent shaping this role to meet the needs he had witnessed.
Chris has since built up a phenomenal amount of expertise, and makes himself readily available to support RAF personnel in securing the best financial awards possible following a medical discharge from the service or when challenging previous War Pension decisions.
Employed by the charity full-time, Chris has invested significant additional unpaid work to stay current with legislation changes. His ethos is that nobody, wherever they are in the world, goes without the service he provides on behalf of the Association.
Rory O’Connor, the charity’s Director of Welfare and Policy, said:
“Chris has worked extremely hard for the Association over the past 22 years, often using his own time to supplement his training.
“His expertise, along with his compassionate and sensitive approach, has enabled the charity to provide a lifeline to thousands of people at a critical stage of their lives. We’re extremely proud of all that Chris does for us.”
One of Chris’s former clients is Phil Caswell, who, having sustained an injury while on duty in 1990, was informed in 2012 that he would be Medically Discharged from the RAF a few months later, ending his 37-year.
“In enabling me to be financially secure as the result of his support and advice, Chris has given me the opportunity to view the future in a much more positive light.
“While I look back on my RAF career with pride, it’s thanks to Chris that I’m now able to look forward again.”
Awards President and Head of the Judging Panel, General the Lord Dannatt, said:
“The Soldiering On Awards finalists represent the wonderful work of the Armed Forces and all that they stand for. The awards recognise those who have gone above and beyond what was required, time and again, an ethos learned for many of our finalists in the service of their country.
“Those who support the military community not only benefit them, but our wider society too.”
Chris, who is married and has five children, will learn if he is the winner of his category at the awards presentation night in London on 5 April. In the meantime, he has been invited to attend a reception for all the awards’ finalists at the House of Lords on 13 February.
See also Military support organisations