Supporting the Armed Forces Across Essex

30 July 2019

On the 24th of January 2019, Gepp Solicitors signed the Armed Forces Covenant Pledge, committing to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and support the Armed Forces Community.

Gepps association with the military goes back almost 200 years, to Thomas Frost Gepp who called to arms the Essex Loyal Volunteers (known as the Pompadours) to defend the region against Napoleon. Since that time members of the Gepp family have served King and country for generations.

Gepp Solicitors affiliation with the armed forces still continues under the direction of Roger Brice, Gepp Solicitor’s Senior Partner and Head of Military Law. Roger and his team assist serving armed forces personnel in all aspects of military law as well as employment, wills and trusts to property and matrimonial matters.

Our commitment to serving and retired service personnel extends beyond providing good legal advice. This year Gepp Solicitors chose to support the Armed Forces Week and in doing so committed to raise money for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Families Association, better known as SAAFA. Established in 1885, SAAFA is the Uk’s oldest Armed Forces Charity.

SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity, provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army or the Royal Air Force.  This support is also offered to wives, dependants and civil partners.  The aim is to ensure that those individuals can enjoy, fulfilling lives and live with dignity in the community.  Help is provided through a range of means from provision of household goods, mobility assistance, work transition mentoring, overcoming debt, dealing mental health and bereavement advice.

Typically, SSAFA Essex deals with about 300 cases per year, which are served by 30 caseworkers, all of whom are volunteers.  New volunteers are always required and do not need a military background to fulfil the role.

Pictured left to right are the SSAFA team Major David Spalding MBE (Assistant Branch Secretary), Hugh Toller (Branch Chairman) Brian Stratton (Branch Secretary) Don Duncan (SSAFA Chelmsford Division) and Roger Brice (Gepp Solicitors Senior Partner and Head of Military Law).

Case Studies:

An Essex based Sapper who is severely disabled and has PTSD following an incident while serving in Iraq, which left him wheelchair bound required considerable assistance.  Taking the initiative, his SSAFA caseworker secured funding to convert his bungalow with help from the District Council and Help for Heroes who provided a special bath costing £9,500, and a Disabled Facilities Grant costing £12,000.  In addition, the caseworker then devoted many hours to supporting the individual when he separated from his wife and was subsequently robbed.

A lady was suddenly widowed when her ex-RAF husband died of a heart attack in Saudi Arabia.  She and her daughter returned to Essex but as no provision had been made for them in the UK, called upon SSAFA for help.  A caseworker supported her through some very upsetting sessions with social services and DWP over funerals and living costs.  Although it was a very difficult time for her, the SSAFA caseworker was able to secure considerable funding from the RAF Benevolent Fund and other Service charities at very short notice.

An Essex based Gurkha veteran was threatened with deportation.  The dogged determination of an experienced SSAFA case worker took the case to the highest levels and by providing the necessary assistance ensured that the veteran’s circumstances in terms of livelihood and accommodation requirements met the standards required for permanent residency.

During the recent Armed Forces Week, the partners and staff at Gepp Solicitors hosted a rather special coffee morning in their offices in Chelmsford. Some wonderful cakes and savouries were on offer to visiting clients and passing business friends. The takeaway service was so successful that a number of local businesses dropped by to collect plates of goodies taking back to their offices for all to enjoy.

A huge thanks goes to all the staff who kindly baked cakes over the previous days and to the generous support to those who kindly donated to this worthy cause. Just over £250.00 was raised for SSAFA in about three hours of cake sales. All the proceeds from the cake sale will go to projects across Essex similar to those mentioned above.