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Veteran Awarded Grant to Support Independence

09/02/2021

RMA – The Royal Marines Charity strives to give Royal Marines and their families support throughout their lifetime. Whether support is needed early in their career or if the need comes later in life, we will be there.

When the Charity received an application for help on behalf of long-standing RMA member and President of the Chelmsford & District Branch, Cecil ‘Chuck’ Harris, it was a simple process to organise the assessment needed and then obtain the equipment to meet that need.

Chuck, a WW2 veteran, who fought with 47 Commando in the Normandy and Walcheren landings in 1944, needed a rising chair to enable him to continue living independently. Increased mobility not only means greater independence and self-sufficiency for the individual concerned but also gives a higher quality of life, emotional wellbeing and ultimately promotes better health. During the pandemic we are facing increased restrictions, none more so than the elderly community.

Initially Chuck tried to enlist in the Navy but was informed the Royal Marines was a better option, he began his training at Eastney Barracks and was posted to what is now CTCRM. He deployed to South Africa, Aden and then Egypt where he joined the ‘Long Range Desert Group’ before returning to Egypt to prepare for the invasion of Sicily. Chuck suffered a shrapnel injury whilst in Sicily and came back to the UK to recover.

Once fully fit he volunteered for Commando training at Achnacarry and on his 21st birthday joined the unit to start training, which commenced by marching 8 miles from the station! In 1944 47 Commando prepared trucks for the invasion.  His landing in France was far from easy and after his vehicle caught fire he was forced to jump over the side. He was wet, cold and without a rifle, forced to take cover.

He “acquired” a German MP38 and with that, a Cdo knife and his green beret he joined the remainder of the 47 RM Cdo men and started a 12-mile route to Hill 72 behind Port-en-Bessin by nightfall. He received another shrapnel injury to his wrist whilst reaching for his pipe. The Doctor who treated him reminded him “smoking is bad for your health young man!”.

Chuck returned home on special leave and on 11th January 1945 and married the love of his life, Joan, and after enjoying 10 days as newly weds, he re-joined 47 RM Cdo in Germany.

After the war Chuck went on to join the London Police, he was shot during his service in the side and arm, after which he went on to specialise in Police Radios. His astounding career went on to include escorting Royal Family members and state funerals, including Winston Churchill’s funeral, Queen Elizabeth’s Wedding and Coronation and many more.

Chuck retired in 1972 his life became dedicated to the Veteran community, namely that of 47 Commando Association and the recently disbanded 47 Charity. As Veteran President, he travels each year to all 47 Commando Commemorations. 47 Charity was established in 2016 at the wish of veterans and members of 47 Royal Marine Commando Association in support of the work of the Association, as they have now disbanded RMA - The Royal Marines Charity will ensure the support and wellbeing of those that are in need from 47 RM Cdo. 

For a man that has given so much for our country, our support cannot show enough gratitude. To make sure that Chuck’s needs were met in exactly the right way, the Charity enlisted the professional opinion of an Occupational Therapist who was able to assess Chuck and give their opinion on the best equipment to meet that need.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of ensuring that vulnerable members of our community are supported in the correct way has become imperative. Although a rising chair meets a physical need, it also meets an emotional and wellbeing need. It allows Chuck to stay in his home and remain independent for as long as possible.

Chuck’s family, that includes his 5 Daughters, 1 Son, 13 Grand Children, and 20 Great Grand Children, have been doing all they can to keep him safe in his own home, and this has not been made easy given the current climate. Pat, Chuck’s daughter, said that the installation of the chair had “saved them all a lot of worry”. He is learning to operate the Gucci bit of kit with the support of the Occupational Therapist, and the riser/recliner chair is already worth its weight in gold. 

The Charity was honoured to be able to award this grant to someone that has given so much to the RMA community, not only through his service but through his continued devotion to those in RMA and the 47 Commando Association.

We have received this message from Chuck’s eldest daughter, Pat. 

On behalf of Dad (Chuck) and the rest of the Harris clan, may I thank you.

It is a bit of a learning curve at times with the functions of the chair but he is getting there and saving us all a lot of worry. 

I know it’s a bit irreverent, but I have this mental picture that if he had been like this during the D Day landing there I would have been chasing after him, a daft eccentric English woman, equipped with my gadget to label anything deciding which colour label to use on anything and everything in and around Port-en-Bessin-Huppain.

Thank you again for the wonderful support from The Royal Marines Association.