Are You A Veteran Suffering From Hearing Loss?
The Charity Team
Chloe has worked across several different industries, from hospitality to catering to retail and administration, but it was the latter that really captured her imagination. In the pursuit of a fulfilling, admin-focused career, she found the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation (formerly UK Veterans Hearing Help), and has since worked her way from the bottom to the top of the organization.
She started in January of 2017 with UK Veterans Hearing Help as an apprentice, assisting with administration roles within the association. A quick learner and a keen team player, Chloe rapidly rose through the ranks and is now the internal business development manager.
“I am very happy with the amount I’ve been able to achieve with my career thus far, and passionately care about all of our veterans.
Every day in this job is not just about admin, it’s about caring and looking after people, making the veterans and their families aware that you are here for them.
The team and I support the veterans from start to finish, and it’s such an incredible feeling when you get them through the system, fitted with their top-of- the-range, fully funded hearing aids. It makes a huge difference in the lives of veterans and their families.”
The Board Of Trustees
Steve Birdsall is currently the founder and chief executive of Gaist Solutions Limited, which provide technology and services to highways network operators around the world.
Steve started his career as a junior soldier in 1982. After training as a junior leader at Bramcote Barracks in Warwickshire, Steve served his Army career with 45 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. His first posting was to Hohne in West Germany before serving in the UK, Canada and Belize. Steve specialised in communications, artillery command systems and surveying, before leaving the Army as a lance bombardier in 1992.
Steve left the army with an exemplary record to join a French land surveying company as a land surveyor working in the UK and Germany. Steve spent several years working with geophysics teams undertaking seismic surveys exploring for oil.
Steve then took up a position as a navigator on board seismic survey ships working around the world exploring for offshore oil fields. Steve joined his first ship as a trainee and steadily worked his way up to eventually take command of his own vessel working in the Middle East, Africa, South Atlantic and Europe.
Following a change of career in 2000, Steve was appointed as project manager on an ambitious project to map the entire UK rail network using a specialised train equipped with the latest in camera technology.
In 2004 Steve became the operations director for a national road surveying company, which involved Steve managing projects in the UK, Canada and India.
In 2009 Steve established his own company – Gaist Solutions Limited.
Within only a few years Gaist was recognised by Venturefest as the best young science and technology company. Venturefest is the biggest annual innovation expo, bringing together businesses, investors and innovation specialists.
Steve has gone on to lead Gaist to become a global player with offices in the UK and India.
Steve has accompanied several prime ministers and trade ministers on trade missions to India, Singapore and Malaysia and his company is recognised as being commonwealth export champion.
In 2019 Steve was awarded the title of the entrepreneur of the year by the veteran’s charity – Heroprenueurs.
Gary was born in a small town, Shipley West Yorkshire just outside Bradford on 16 January 1960 and the eldest son of four boys.
Gary enjoyed school even though everyone with schooling in the 1970s were disciplined severely by both teachers and parents, which as you know who had that upbringing, didn’t harm you on your road in life.
He respected his parents, teachers, police and had no issues with people in authority.
On leaving school he moved to live with his father after a split between his parents.
His first job was with a steel fabrication company in Queensbury where his dad worked and secured him a job. 12 months later, Gary decided there was more to my life than Bradford, mundane life and after splitting with the girlfriend he fell in love, enrolled himself in the Army.
On 8th August 1977, he arrived at the main gates of Woolwich Garrison, where he received his first of many culture shocks, one of which was the fireman’s strike and spent 3 weeks in Westminster on Green Goddesses.
On completion of 10 weeks training, Gary went to Hohne, West Germany where he joined 52 Niagara Bty 45 Field Regiment and had the most enjoyable time being a young soldier on the guns until his first tour of Northern Ireland in Portadown with 34 Bty in 1979.
Whilst on leave after NI, he met and got engaged to his now Wife of 40 years – Pauline, who has supported him through thick and thin.
in 1980, Gary was badly burnt in an accident on the guns, whilst performing a 21 gun salute for the Queens birthday parade. After 6 weeks in Hanover Hospital and Morphine in his leg every 4 hours, 1980 also gave Gary his first son.
However, his confidence was shattered after moving jobs from guns to stores, sgts mess, driver, QMs department and several other slow promotions.
The regiment moved from Germany to Colchester where he ran ration stores NCO, then to the Sgts Mess as assistant mess steward and earned his second stripe.
Back to Germany, Paderborn where he moved to 170 Bty and knew my destiny was eventually to go back on the Guns.
Knowing promotion to Sgt was impossible unless he did a Crew Commanders Course in Larkhill, away he went with the utmost confidence and apprehension of gunnery. Gary completed the course with good grades, even after having 2 consecutive misfires as commander on the final assessment.
On return he was appointed gun 2ic of a gun crew of which won the last Best Gun Competition 45 Regiment held due to disbandment.
39 Regiment saw him through 22 Yrs, where he then retired from the forces and returned to civilian life.
Gary found it extremely difficult adjusting to civilian life.
He established a fabrication company in 2002, now has 12 employees and is looking to expand.
His ethics, standards and morals are a tribute to his schooling, parents and military career. Gary aspires to keep these traits to move his business forwards in the future.
Andy Kittsen is a former soldier who served a full career in the Royal Artillery serving in numerous theaters all over the world.
During his career Andy worked with all facets of the Artillery both on operational deployments and in training. After leaving the military Andy has held senior leadership roles working for the United States Government and most notably as a senior commercial advisor the United States Commanding General of MNF–I and later running 2 of the US Governments largest food distribution programs in the middle east region whilst employed by ANHAM.
During his military service Andy was recognized by Her Majesty the Queen of England for outstanding service to the Crown.
Andy wanted to get involved with the charity because everywhere he has been over the years he enjoys giving back. He feels passionately about his military service and feels that our veterans deserve all the help they can get, especially those that can’t or don’t know how to navigate the obstacles in their path. With his experience working all over the world he is aware that you just have to keep plugging away at the issues and one day you will be successful.
Andy is married to Cheryl his wife of 34 years and has 2 grown up children.
Nick joined the army straight from school, via Durham University, on an Officer Cadetship to study at university, then to Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (Sandhurst).
He then studied English for 3 fun years and spent his time reading books, drinking beer, playing hockey, rowing and trying his hand at being a student politician. Every summer was spent with a Gunner Regiment, learning on the job how to lead soldiers and being an Orderly Officer. Nick learned a great deal from the soldiers and SNCOs he would meet every summer. After graduation, he returned to Sandhurst for 6 months of soldier training.
Nick would go on to serve in the Royal Artillery for 23 years, mostly in Germany, the UK, Central America and the period of Northern Ireland’s Troubles. His first decade was spent with artillery, while his latter time was spent in the MOD as a Staff Officer. Nick’s roles included:
1. Being the army’s ‘advertising man’ for 2 years, making recruitment adverts and running £30 million annual campaigns. Nick’s stint was a particular point of pride, and filled the army with good men and women.
2. He would go on to command 120 Yorkshiremen (and a few stray Brummies!) of the 52nd Niagara Battery Royal Artillery. There I met my fellow trustees Ben, Andy and Steve; but not Gary who was serving away.
3. His last posting was army “Ombudsman” (although the MOD didn’t call it that!)
He describes righting the wrongs inflicted on soldiers by the ‘Green Machine’ as a worthy role if ever there was.He left the army in 1996 to turn a small law firm in Watford into a bigger one. 15 years later they boasted 400 staff in 4 Offices from Fleet Street to Milton Keynes. Nick left in 2011 and fully retired at 60 after two bouts of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma blood cancer.
From 2016-2021, Nick tutored kids in English and History at GCSE and A-level. He also spent time coaching young people taking the Army Officer Selection Board to go to Sandhurst.During this period, Nick volunteered for SSAFA (the Soldiers Sailors and Families Association, the oldest UK military charity founded in 1885) and helped run welfare work throughout Surrey and train other volunteers.Nick received top-of-the-range hearing aids through his association with Ben and UK Veterans Hearing Foundation (UK Veterans Hearing Help at the time). Once free of his SSAFA commitments, Nick became a trustee as a show of appreciation.”I’m married for 35 years now, (my wife says 42, or since we began ‘walking out’!) We have two grown sons: the first lives at home, while the other is a city lawyer and dedicated rugby player. His law firm uses artificial intelligence, not human lawyers. My interests are veterans affairs, border terriers – especially mine, our five-year-old Martha – literature, film, national hunt horse racing, Rhone and Burgundy red wines, enjoying life and not growing up!”
Samantha Jayne Bennett
The Founder (Who has since cut ties with the Charity)
I regret to say that my time working with the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation is now complete. I have immensely enjoyed Founding the charity, and working with the Trustees in putting the foundations in place for Sponsors to help veterans hear better. For Buddies to support veterans in isolation using portals and for establishing sound pathways for every veteran with hearing loss, tinnitus and associated mental health issues and wish this charity great success for the future.
I will always have the veterans we have helped, over 500 in total, in my heart and will always step up when needed to ensure their best results in accessing funding within the UK. I will still be in talks with leading groups about pathways for veterans and continue to try and help make these more achievable.
But as planned, I am now taking long overdue time out and then on to my next adventure in the foreseeable future. “
As the third of four children, the only girl, I was very much a tomboy enjoying sports and outdoor activities and competing well at regional games at school with sprinting and javelin. I have continued that love to sport all through my life having been an avid gym user all my life.
My father was a veteran, and after leaving the Army gained employment to support the family, but he had a dreadful accident that left him 100% physically disabled and my mother became his main carer all his life.
On leaving college I applied for the Police Force and the Army but at the time you had to have perfect eyesight and unfortunately I didn’t so I couldn’t get in, and this started my career in marketing.
At 26 years old I decided I needed a career change and saw a position available in the Grocer magazine at the time, working for a national hearing aid company as a hearing aid audiologist. I was surprised to get the position and start on my induction course a couple of months later.
Once qualified I found that I loved the role of the audiologist and decided within a couple of years of qualifying that I really wanted to do this for myself. I set up Bennett Hearing & Healthcare Co which I ran for 7 years and eventually sold due to its growth and having two small children.
I then moved on working with two Ear Nose and Throat Specialists and developed the Hearing Partnership and Healthscreen providing occupational health surveillance nationwide.
The Hearing Partnership eventually evolved into the hearing division of a domiciliary eye care company which itself was eventually taken over by Specsavers domiciliary hearing services.
My next role was working for myself quietly for a few years from home which was fabulous, as I could work around the family as they grew. Until the day our son decided to become an audiologist and came on board, so with my husband and niece also working from our home we knew the day had come we had outgrown the home offices. So we bought our first centre in Hinckley.
After a year our daughter decided to join us, and then we knew we had to go again to a new centre – Leicester, and this is how it all started.
Today, I still enjoy “moving” I am not good at sitting still and it takes effort.
I enjoy walking and happily on a day off will go on a 10-mile walk with the dogs. I have always had dogs, usually many at one time. We currently have a standard Poodle called Cass and a Yorkshire Terrier called Lou.
I adore the Lake District and now call this home and coming back to Hinckley to work. I still go the gym 3-4 times a week if I can fit it in but work and the charity take up a huge amount of time and there appear to be not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do.
How We Can Help
We get our funding from multiple sources ensuring our veterans get the treatments they need. We can help you gain access to this funding with continuous support along the way. We endeavour to make sure that your application is submitted with the highest level of quality and success rate possible, so we can get you hearing with some fantastic new Hearing Aids as soon as possible.
If you would like to start your application – Click Here To Make An Enquiry >>
Proudly supporting those who serve!
UK Veterans Hearing Help (now the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation) received the Bronze Award in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme in 2016, in 2019 we achieved Silver level and in 2020 we achieved the highest level Gold. The scheme provides an award for organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and armed forces community.
Think You May Be Entitled To Partial or Full Funding For Veterans?
Then contact us using the either of the methods below and we will guide you through the process – simply, from start to finish.