Woodmansterne fete's Help For Heroes donations under fire

The fete's donations to Help For Heroes have come under fire

The fete's donations to Help For Heroes have come under fire

First published in News

Organisers of a village May Queen fete have come under attack for choosing to support a charity that helps wounded soldiers.

Woodmansterne May Queen Fete has been a tradition since 1966, but the decision this year to choose Help for Heroes as the main recipient of their fundraising on the village green on May 7 has prompted an angry protest.

Mohammad Siddique condemned the charity for helping soldiers get back to the front line and said he was contacting local MP Crispin Blunt to inform him a number of Muslim groups are now considering an online petition designed to force a Commons debate on withdrawing its charitable status.

He said: "My family and our local Muslim community were disappointed to see that the Woodmansterne May Queen committee have seen fit to publicise their Bank Holiday fete by adopting the Help for Heroes as their nominated charity.

"It is, of course, cynical and absurd to claim that Help for Heroes is 'non-political' and 'simply wants to help'."

"It is a straightforward fundraising device designed to rehabilitate injured British soldiers and, wherever possible, return them to the front line.

"It is equally misleading for Help for Heroes to describe these men and women as ‘volunteers’ - they are uniformed soldiers contracted for wages to do the bidding of their government.

"Writing before the event, we hope that the children of Woodmansterne enjoy their day. At least unlike the children of my own home town - they will not face the possibility of shelling or cluster bombing by ‘heroes’ to whose country they have never posed a threat."

Help for Heroes was launched in 2007 to provide better facilities for British servicemen and women wounded since September 11, 2001 and has so far raised £135m.

In June 2010, Prince William opened an £8million Help for Heroes Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, near Leatherhead, which plays a vital role in helping badly injured servicemen recover.

Sharon Cousins, of the Woodmansterne May Queen Committee, whose daughter was crowned this year, said the choice of charity had nothing to do with politics.

She said: "Help for Heroes is not the only charity, every year we agree a national charity as a group.

"In the past we have chosen cystic fibrosis and Macmillan.

"We have a member of our family who served in the forces in Afghanistan.

"It wasn’t a political decision; we look at all the charities.

"It was an amazing day where we made a significant amount for charity.

"The last thing we’d want to do is offend - it’s about a good event for charity."

Just over £2,000 was raised at the event, with half going to Help for Heroes and the rest going to local charities.

Help for Heroes refused to respond to Mr Siddique's points, claiming they were "too political".

But a senior British Legion organiser, who wanted to remain anonymous, rejected Mr Mohammad's attack on the charity.

He said: "It’s not political - service charities collect every day.

"They are above politics. We’ve got a number of Muslims serving in the British army.

"When a soldier signs-up they are not making a political stand they are doing it for freedom and democracy."

Mr Blunt said his office had not received the letter from Mr Siddique, which he described as “nonsense”.

He strongly backed the work of Help for Heroes and said: “This is not representative of the views of the Muslim community and I have never met a constituent who has raised these views.”

But a spokesman for Kingston Mosque said: "This is a very difficult and emotive issue.

"In terms of charitable-giving, our humanity extends to all human beings who suffer loss and injuries for whatever reason, without exception.

"Muslims give lots of money in charity and charity is an important part of the Muslim faith.

"The use of the term 'hero' or 'villain' is unnecessarily problematic in this context because it is a value-judgement. What makes someone a 'hero' or a 'villain' is very much dependent on your politics.

"Such terms venture into those difficult areas where charities should not go.

"This is hugely problematic for those who wish to donate money to help their fellow human beings on the one hand but do not want to be supporting British foreign policy on the other, which they see as highly questionable to put it mildly."

What do you think? Should Help For Heroes be considered a charity, or is it a political organisation?

Whatever your view, use the form below to let us know...

Comments (12)

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1:03pm Thu 17 May 12

bystander tolworth says...

I assume that Mr Siddique does not mind living in a country where he is able to express such views. I would remind him that his ability to do so was enabled by the armed men and women of this country such as my father. I would question where Muslim charitable donations end up - perhaps on the back of 'soldiers' who took to the London underground in 2005.
I assume that Mr Siddique does not mind living in a country where he is able to express such views. I would remind him that his ability to do so was enabled by the armed men and women of this country such as my father. I would question where Muslim charitable donations end up - perhaps on the back of 'soldiers' who took to the London underground in 2005. bystander tolworth
  • Score: 1

1:54pm Thu 17 May 12

Crispin Blunt MP says...

Please follow the attached link for Crispin Blunt's formal response to this story:

http://www.blunt4rei
gate.com/newsshow.as
px?ref=227
Please follow the attached link for Crispin Blunt's formal response to this story: http://www.blunt4rei gate.com/newsshow.as px?ref=227 Crispin Blunt MP
  • Score: 0

4:02pm Thu 17 May 12

fedup58 says...

This is the sort of stupid cras remark from Muslims that alienates the rest of the country. We tolerate Mr Siddique's faith because in GB that's what we do. To the Majority of UK residents our armed forces are Heroes past and present and need our support. All he has done is make absolutley certain that he has encouraged more people to distrust the intentions of British Muslims. If Christians can tolerate other religions then Muslims should learn to keep quiet when it comes to things that matter greatly to the mainly Christian British population. Maybe he should move to France and see how they deal with the Muslim community then maybe he would have something to complain about. Perhaps we should start a charity to stop Honor Killings and maybe he would like to donate to that but possibly not. The laws in this country should be obeyed by all, no exceptions.
This is the sort of stupid cras remark from Muslims that alienates the rest of the country. We tolerate Mr Siddique's faith because in GB that's what we do. To the Majority of UK residents our armed forces are Heroes past and present and need our support. All he has done is make absolutley certain that he has encouraged more people to distrust the intentions of British Muslims. If Christians can tolerate other religions then Muslims should learn to keep quiet when it comes to things that matter greatly to the mainly Christian British population. Maybe he should move to France and see how they deal with the Muslim community then maybe he would have something to complain about. Perhaps we should start a charity to stop Honor Killings and maybe he would like to donate to that but possibly not. The laws in this country should be obeyed by all, no exceptions. fedup58
  • Score: 1

4:34pm Thu 17 May 12

JoWilly36 says...

I cannot believe that such a letter has been written, it is utterly ludicrous, that a village fete, Charity/fun day has been turned into a political debate. Our soldiers deserve to be recognised past and present and, if a fundraising event decides that their chosen charity is Help for Hero's to honour our servicemen then let them be. They work hard all year to organise the event and such STUPID letters, are totally unnecessary. I would like to see whether Mr Siddique is up for arranging such an event! I am so angry I could go on forever, but I won't.
I would like to finish by saying that I was at the event and it was a wonderfully organised and happy day, it's just a shame that someone has had to bring it down with such ridiculous comments.
I cannot believe that such a letter has been written, it is utterly ludicrous, that a village fete, Charity/fun day has been turned into a political debate. Our soldiers deserve to be recognised past and present and, if a fundraising event decides that their chosen charity is Help for Hero's to honour our servicemen then let them be. They work hard all year to organise the event and such STUPID letters, are totally unnecessary. I would like to see whether Mr Siddique is up for arranging such an event! I am so angry I could go on forever, but I won't. I would like to finish by saying that I was at the event and it was a wonderfully organised and happy day, it's just a shame that someone has had to bring it down with such ridiculous comments. JoWilly36
  • Score: 0

5:01pm Thu 17 May 12

whatarubbishrag says...

Mr Siddique is entitled to his view, after all that's what our armed services are fighting for, freedom of thought and expression. What I find totally unacceptable is that Epsom Guardian choose to take the view of one individual and make it front page news using words such as 'furore'. What furore? one individual doesn't like it? I've consigned this piece of rubbish to the bin where it belongs.
Mr Siddique is entitled to his view, after all that's what our armed services are fighting for, freedom of thought and expression. What I find totally unacceptable is that Epsom Guardian choose to take the view of one individual and make it front page news using words such as 'furore'. What furore? one individual doesn't like it? I've consigned this piece of rubbish to the bin where it belongs. whatarubbishrag
  • Score: 1

11:37pm Thu 17 May 12

GR-London says...

We are lucky to live in a country where, within reason, we can speak our minds.

This particular story then becomes a bit ironic when the very people that risk their lives to provide us with this freedom are viewed by some in such a negative light.

Keep in mind that the Heroes of the Armed Forces are not allowed to pick the conflicts that they are sent to fight.

It is because of the mentality of this illogical hypocrisy of some people who enjoy our freedom, but then criticise the people that risk their lives to provide it that the world is in such a state.

Thankfully we live in a country where even if you have no loyalty to your host, that provides you with freedom and safety and quite often food and shelter, you can express your displeasure without serious consequences (unlike many countries around the world).

No one is forced to live here, everyone has the option to leave.
We are lucky to live in a country where, within reason, we can speak our minds. This particular story then becomes a bit ironic when the very people that risk their lives to provide us with this freedom are viewed by some in such a negative light. Keep in mind that the Heroes of the Armed Forces are not allowed to pick the conflicts that they are sent to fight. It is because of the mentality of this illogical hypocrisy of some people who enjoy our freedom, but then criticise the people that risk their lives to provide it that the world is in such a state. Thankfully we live in a country where even if you have no loyalty to your host, that provides you with freedom and safety and quite often food and shelter, you can express your displeasure without serious consequences (unlike many countries around the world). No one is forced to live here, everyone has the option to leave. GR-London
  • Score: 1

12:52am Fri 18 May 12

Vera43 says...

Many thousands of people have been raising money in various ways for the registered charity 'Help for Heroes' since it began nearly five years ago. One vociferous protestor objects to money raised for this charity at a fete in a small Surrey Village and the local Guardian newspaper sensationalises the issue and makes it headline news. This is disgraceful and irresponsible journalism.
Many thousands of people have been raising money in various ways for the registered charity 'Help for Heroes' since it began nearly five years ago. One vociferous protestor objects to money raised for this charity at a fete in a small Surrey Village and the local Guardian newspaper sensationalises the issue and makes it headline news. This is disgraceful and irresponsible journalism. Vera43
  • Score: 0

10:34am Fri 18 May 12

daveburton says...

Let us remember what our brave soldiers fight and sacrifice for, and what they do every day to preserve our way of life, not to conquer any territory, not for any ambitions of their own. They fight to free and liberate the oppressed and persecuted, wherever that may be in the world.
I speak for the vast majority of this country when I say I am so proud of them.
How ironic that Mohammad Siddique chooses to live in this country and benefit from the all the freedom and comfort it offers, yet seeks to criticize the people who help us maintain those values.
Go and take a history lesson Mr Siddique and learn about the wonderful country YOU choose to live in and yet condem.
Hypocrite!
Let us remember what our brave soldiers fight and sacrifice for, and what they do every day to preserve our way of life, not to conquer any territory, not for any ambitions of their own. They fight to free and liberate the oppressed and persecuted, wherever that may be in the world. I speak for the vast majority of this country when I say I am so proud of them. How ironic that Mohammad Siddique chooses to live in this country and benefit from the all the freedom and comfort it offers, yet seeks to criticize the people who help us maintain those values. Go and take a history lesson Mr Siddique and learn about the wonderful country YOU choose to live in and yet condem. Hypocrite! daveburton
  • Score: 0

10:58am Fri 18 May 12

Epsom um says...

Maybe He should read up or take note of what our boys are really doing out there. They are not out there to kill innocent people they are put there training the afghan natimal army to protect such people from the Taliban who do kill innocent people. there is a documentary that has been made by the BBC and the soldiers themselfs called 'our war' this is a massive eye opener and a very good documentary. There have been so many men and woman who have lost limbs or even their lives to try and make these countries a better place to live so yes they are heroes and should be recognised as that. Our army has always been to serve and protect that's past and present if it wasn't for all those service men and woman our country wouldn't be what it is today where me and everyone here including mr siddique freedom of speech but by what he has said he has upset and offended a lot of people and needs to think about what he has done. I am close friends with a few soldier from the princess of Wales royal regiment (tigers) who have had two of their close friends lose both of their legs a couple of months ago and one fatality. Charities Luke help for heroes and the army benevolent funds help to get these men the prosthetic limb they need or adaptations to their house or even just support. Sorry to go on but this article has really got to me and some of my family including my nan who was married to a soldier (my grandad). And I'm sure any service men and woman who read this will be just as annoyed.
Maybe He should read up or take note of what our boys are really doing out there. They are not out there to kill innocent people they are put there training the afghan natimal army to protect such people from the Taliban who do kill innocent people. there is a documentary that has been made by the BBC and the soldiers themselfs called 'our war' this is a massive eye opener and a very good documentary. There have been so many men and woman who have lost limbs or even their lives to try and make these countries a better place to live so yes they are heroes and should be recognised as that. Our army has always been to serve and protect that's past and present if it wasn't for all those service men and woman our country wouldn't be what it is today where me and everyone here including mr siddique freedom of speech but by what he has said he has upset and offended a lot of people and needs to think about what he has done. I am close friends with a few soldier from the princess of Wales royal regiment (tigers) who have had two of their close friends lose both of their legs a couple of months ago and one fatality. Charities Luke help for heroes and the army benevolent funds help to get these men the prosthetic limb they need or adaptations to their house or even just support. Sorry to go on but this article has really got to me and some of my family including my nan who was married to a soldier (my grandad). And I'm sure any service men and woman who read this will be just as annoyed. Epsom um
  • Score: 0

2:55pm Fri 18 May 12

fedup58 says...

I notice that Mr Siddique refers to Afghanistan as his home, what then does he think the UK is. Just a safe haven and who keeps it safe our Brave Armed Forces. A retraction from Mr Siddique for the offence he has caused would be in order. Perhaps the Guardian could contact him?
I notice that Mr Siddique refers to Afghanistan as his home, what then does he think the UK is. Just a safe haven and who keeps it safe our Brave Armed Forces. A retraction from Mr Siddique for the offence he has caused would be in order. Perhaps the Guardian could contact him? fedup58
  • Score: 0

7:06pm Sat 19 May 12

Epsom um says...

fedup58 wrote:
I notice that Mr Siddique refers to Afghanistan as his home, what then does he think the UK is. Just a safe haven and who keeps it safe our Brave Armed Forces. A retraction from Mr Siddique for the offence he has caused would be in order. Perhaps the Guardian could contact him?
Well said. Yes I totally agree I think a retraction is needed.
[quote][p][bold]fedup58[/bold] wrote: I notice that Mr Siddique refers to Afghanistan as his home, what then does he think the UK is. Just a safe haven and who keeps it safe our Brave Armed Forces. A retraction from Mr Siddique for the offence he has caused would be in order. Perhaps the Guardian could contact him?[/p][/quote]Well said. Yes I totally agree I think a retraction is needed. Epsom um
  • Score: 0

10:27pm Sat 19 May 12

greenlanesresident2 says...

The reason why we have 'Help for Heroes' is to help rehabilitate soldiers maimed mentally and physically, and it's a UK charity many feel they want to support. It's worth reminding Mr Siddique that our soldiers have become 'Heroes' in many cases due to injury inflicted by those who profess Islam as their faith. Mr Siddique implies he is a devout Muslim. Why not dust down the Qu'ran and check out verse 2:263 ?
The reason why we have 'Help for Heroes' is to help rehabilitate soldiers maimed mentally and physically, and it's a UK charity many feel they want to support. It's worth reminding Mr Siddique that our soldiers have become 'Heroes' in many cases due to injury inflicted by those who profess Islam as their faith. Mr Siddique implies he is a devout Muslim. Why not dust down the Qu'ran and check out verse 2:263 ? greenlanesresident2
  • Score: 0

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