Army veteran to raise funds at Ricoh Arena for charity that rescued him

A former army veteran from Coventry is gearing up to raise funds at the Ricoh Arena for the charity that rescued him in his time of need.

Ray Turner’s world was turned upside down in 2009 when he was suddenly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis – a neurological condition with a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, vision and mobility problems.

The condition meant forklift driver Ray had to give up work and was left wheelchair-bound 18 months after being diagnosed and over time he was not able to push himself around, neither could his wife Jill following a knee operation.

Desperate for help, Ray, who served in the 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers between 1971 and 1977, approached SSAFA – a charity which provides lifelong care to those who have served in the British Armed Forces.

After a home visit from SSAFA, the charity funded a lightweight electronic wheelchair, worth £6,500, for Ray enabling him some of the freedom he enjoyed before his diagnosis.

As a goodwill gesture, Ray and his wife Jill will be part of 20 SSAFA volunteers collecting donations at Wasps Aviva Premiership clash with Newcastle Falcons at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, November 18 (5.15pm kick-off).

The fundraising is part of Wasps’ 150th anniversary celebrations, where they are raising money for SSAFA, who are one of the club’s official charity partners.

Ray, 60, from Wood End, said: “SSAFA has been amazing and were there for me when I needed them most, so fundraising for them is the very least I can do.

“Things got so bad that when my wife & I went to the supermarket, I would have to stay in the car and wait for her. Now with the electronic wheelchair I can go anywhere I like on my own as it is light enough for me to lift.

“They even helped by installing a stair lift for me at my previous home and they funded a holiday for me and my wife to Great Yarmouth in 2015 for a week as we hadn’t been away for a long time due to my condition.

“Words can’t express just how grateful my family & I are for what SSAFA has done for us and we are determined to help raise funds for them so that other veterans like me can receive the same type of help when they need it.

“Both Jill and I are Wasps season ticket holders, so it’ll be extra special to help the charity in a place that we both love visiting.”

Kevin Bowman is the secretary for SSAFA Warwickshire and Coventry branch which reached out to help Ray.

He added: “Ray’s story typifies the great lengths we go to as a charity to help our current and former armed forces personnel.

“Every penny we raise goes towards helping to change somebody’s life – whether it’s helping with relationship breakdowns or debt and homelessness through to health, social care and mentoring services – so we’d urge as many people as possible to donate where they can.”

Wasps have a history in supporting SAFFA starting with the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant two years ago.

Nick Eastwood commented: “Stories such as Ray’s are why it is so important for us to support local charities such as SSAFA.

“They provide invaluable support to our local community, as do our two other charity partners Zoe’s Place and Dallaglio RugbyWorks, and we are aiming to raise as much money as we can for each charity this season.”

To donate to SSAFA and Wasps’ two other official charity partners - Zoe’s Place and Dallaglio RugbyWorks - as part of the club’s 150th anniversary season, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wasps-rugbyclub

Tickets for Wasps vs Newcastle Falcons are available from www.wasps.co.uk/tickets starting from £21 for adults, while under-10s go free in certain areas.