Royal Signals veteran publishes fundraising poetry collection
Gina Allsop, a Royal Signals veteran from Brighton, was supported by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity last year after she was knocked off her bike in a hit-and-run incident. Now she is repaying the charity by publishing a poetry book to raise money and say thank you for the support she received …
The book, titled Military Memories, is a collection of poems written by veterans, serving personnel, families of those who have served, and the wider Forces family. Profits from sales of the anthology will go towards a number of military charities, including SSAFA.
The book contains contributions from 30 poets who all have a military connection. TV presenter Lorraine Kelly is one of the contributors, as is radio presenter Joe Carden.
Gina, who served 11 years in the Royal Signals, three years in the Royal Signals Reserve and seven years in the Army Cadet Force, says: ‘The poems illustrate the journey taken by those who join the Armed Forces, showing a lighter side to our families’ lives and the trauma we sometimes face – a path taken by many, told by so few. It’s a lifetime of memories shared in one little book.’
Gina was supported by SSAFA after she was knocked off her bike in a hit-and-run incident. She found herself in A&E injured, her bike a wreck. She had been riding the bike to support her mental health while caring for her brother, Spencer, through his terminal cancer. The day after the crash, Spencer sadly died.
‘I was having a bit of a hard time because my brother was going through cancer treatment and I was having to help him a lot. He got taken off his cancer treatment due to Covid and was given weeks to live and I was there when he died. I think I was the last person to speak to him. It’s been devastating.
‘You feel kind of helpless when you lose a family member, and my escape was cycling. It was during lockdown, so I’d be up in Liverpool cycling in between seeing how my brother was, and then I got run over.’
Gina walked away from the accident with minor injuries but her bike was a write-off. SSAFA supported Gina and sourced funding to provide her with a new bike so she could continue to cycle following the death of her brother.
‘My bike and exercise are really important to me. I didn’t realise that it was a coping method, to be honest. When I didn’t have it for those few weeks I didn’t have an outlet.’
Since then, Gina has completed a fundraising cycling challenge, raising more than £10,000 to set up an art therapy class for a cancer charity, and is now launching her poetry book to help more members of the Armed Forces community.
‘My inspiration for this book also came from a poem I wrote for my brother’s funeral. Since it took place under Covid restrictions we were only allowed ten people, so it was streamed on the internet. My poem was heard by a cancer hospice and they asked me to record it for other virtual funerals so it could be played for them. That inspired me to create this book and allow more people to read the work of others.’
The book is available for purchase from Amazon
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. In 2020, our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 79,000 people in need, from Second World War veterans to young men and women who have served in more recent conflicts, and their families. The SSAFA family includes the Military Wives Choirs, both an independent charity and a subsidiary of SSAFA, which supports women across the military community. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. And we are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need us.
To find out more about the work of SSAFA, visit ssafa.org.uk