Legion volunteer wins lifetime achievement award

Naval veteran Pat Prior BEM QVRM has dedicated her whole life to helping members of the Armed Forces community both in Service and as a volunteer for the Legion.

Now the Charity Staff Foundation (the charity that provides dedicated support to people who work or volunteer in the charity sector) has awarded her its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Pat has been a lifelong supporter of the Legion. Her parents got her involved with the Legion and she became a Poppy Appeal collector in 1969. She became an active member of Lee-on-Solent Branch in 1996, taking on the roles of Branch Secretary, Welfare Secretary and Management Board & Membership Secretary  three positions she continues to hold.

She has been instrumental in keeping branch members actively involved in the local community by organising regular bingo and quiz nights. For some members these events are their only opportunity to enjoy a night out. Pat transports them to and from the appointed venue, planning her life around making sure they get there.

As well as the welfare work she does for branch members and people in surrounding areas, Pat qualified as a Legion caseworker in 2006. In this role she works with members and eligible dependents, checking on vulnerable people who are in ill health and elderly people who are living alone. She checks on those who have not renewed their membership and visits many people in hospital and has attended hundreds (if not thousands) of cases that have taken her across Hampshire.

"During her time as a case worker Pat has shown tremendous compassion for Service and ex-Service personnel. She doesn't just visit, fill in the paperwork and pass it over. She goes the extra mile to help."

Keeping up to date with best practice procedures, Pat attends all available courses and team-building outings and shares her advanced knowledge with other caseworkers. Once a month, she attends Veterans Outreach Support – an outreach facility at the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth where eligible personnel and their dependents can call in for advice and possible assistance. She has mentored new members of staff at this outreach facility and enabled them to broaden their connections by introducing them to the other organisations involved including SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association), the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust (RNBT), veterans' mental health charity Combat Stress and Veterans UK. Pat is well-respected by her colleagues – she regularly attends the RNBT conference at HMS Collingwood and represented the Legion when HRH Prince Edward visited the outreach facility.

Pat Prior accepting a cheque on behalf of the Legion for monies raised at a local infant school

Pat Prior accepting a cheque on behalf of the Legion for funds raised at a local infant school

Pat helps her clients in a multitude of ways. She helps them talk to their local councils about housing; provides money advice, signposting them to local money and advice representatives; and, through her own contacts, finds job opportunities and work for those who are struggling financially. Sometimes a beneficiary just wants company, and Pat provides this regularly. Pat's list of beneficiaries is growing, but she never turns anyone down for a visit.

"Pat is always there for everyone else and expects no recognition for her good work. She's an amazing lady and is a real inspiration to the people whose lives she has touched."

In 2006 Pat took on the additional role of Poppy Appeal Organiser at Lee-on-Solent and over the last ten years has raised £234,521 for the Poppy Appeal in her area. When the areas of HMS Sultan and Portchester were left without a Poppy Appeal Organiser in 2013, Pat took them on too raising £24,483 for the area of Portchester and £6481 for HMS Sultan - making a grand total of £265,486 for all three areas.

In addition to her work on various fundraising events, Pat organises the Remembrance parade in Lee-on-Solent, the Two Minute Silence in Lee-on-Solent High Street each year on 11 November and, in 2015, organised a commemorative D-Day service with a local flying club that brought thousands of people into the area.

Pat is also a Legion Recruiting Officer for Hampshire and organises and attends regular county shows to promote the aims and objectives of The Royal British Legion and to engage with people who may require help. She also visits local organisations, Cadet groups and schools to speak about the work of the Legion.

With her lifetime achievement award, Pat is no stranger to awards for her good work. In 1984, she was awarded the British Empire Medal (BME) for her Service with the Royal Navy, providing extra-curricular professional training outside of her normal duties as Chief Writer. In 2003, she was awarded the Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal (QVRM) for her Service in the reserve forces. Pat is humble about her awards but is proud of her Service in the Royal Navy between 1968 and 2005 and passionate about her work with the Legion and the people she helps. 

How to GET INVOLVEd

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with the Legion, please see all the ways you can get involved or explore the benefits of volunteering, our volunteering FAQs.

Or to become a Legion member, join online now.

Related Stories