The Charity Team

At the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation, we pride ourselves on the diversity and skillset of our team. Our staff and volunteers come from a myriad of backgrounds, each bringing unique talents and expertise to the table. These range from marketing brilliance, meticulous administrative skills, creative image editing, to the dynamic management of our online shop and the organization of impactful events.

What unites us all, however, is a shared passion for helping our veterans improve their quality of life. It is this collective drive that fuels our charity, enabling us to maintain and advance our operations in meaningful ways. Each member of our team plays a crucial role in delivering the support our veterans deserve, utilising their skills to ensure we meet our goals with efficiency and compassion.

Unlike some of the larger military charities, The UK Veterans Hearing Foundation operates with a small, dedicated team. Our resources may be more limited, and we may not be able to offer the large wages found elsewhere, but what we lack in size, we make up for in heart and dedication. Our team’s commitment to the cause ensures that every aspect of the charity is handled with care, from day-to-day operations to the strategic push for growth and development. This tight-knit approach allows us to ensure that all available funds are directed towards making a real difference in the lives of veterans. It’s a choice that reflects our values and our commitment to ensuring the maximum impact of every donation received.

The UKVHF Team

Chloe Knott


Chloe started in January of 2018, in the pursuit of a fulfilling an admin-focused career, Chloe found the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation (formerly UK Veterans Hearing Help), 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.”

Stephanie Palmer


Steph has been volunteering with us since April 2021 – She came on board and loves being involved, knowing that she is helping changing Veterans lives, by doing what she loves most… fashion!

After a career change, Steph knew she needed experience to achieve her future goals. Therefore, working mainly with our Online Charity Shop, Steph works in different aspects of the Charity. Some of her duties include; dressing the mannequins, taking images, editing images, uploading/writing the descriptions of items on our website, arranging orders, & carrying out outreach to bring donations in.

“I enjoy being a Volunteer at the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation, as fashion is my passion. I love that I’m able to assist & evolve myself, as the Charity evolves too. Working here gives me fantastic experience for my future career and is very rewarding to see what we do.On top of that, the team is so lovely; we all have the same drive for caring & supporting people – it’s incredible and inspiring working alongside them!

I highly recommend coming and volunteering here for anyone that is looking for experience, or simply wants to help make a difference for our Veterans in their spare time.”

Rachael Payne


Rachael became a part of our team in November 2023, driven by her desire to blend her diverse skills, qualifications, and experience through a meaningful role in a charitable organisation. This marked the beginning of her rewarding journey with us.

With a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design, Rachael’s career has spanned various facets of the industry. Her expertise ranges from designing and pattern cutting womenswear to manufacturing accessories for the Armed Forces, as well as working as a seamstress on a smaller scale. Her passion for teamwork and vintage fashion has been a constant throughout her career, which includes significant experience in office work and involvement in local charities.

At the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation, Rachael plays a pivotal role. She manages our online shop, providing descriptions for donated items on our website, and efficiently processing orders. Additionally, she oversees our sales on platforms like Vinted and eBay. Her administrative support to the team, particularly to Chloe, and her contributions to organising charity events are invaluable. These efforts significantly boost our sales, maximising profits for the charity and supporting the veterans we serve.

Rachael shares her thoughts: “Working for a charity aligns perfectly with my caring nature and my passion for making a difference while utilising my skills. Being part of this team is extremely fulfilling. I take immense joy in supporting UK veterans with their hearing loss, tinnitus, and mental health issues. It’s gratifying to know I’ve made a difference in someone’s life. The camaraderie and shared goal of our team create a positive environment that I’m thankful to be a part of. This opportunity to make a real impact on people’s lives is something I truly cherish.”

Lauri Lawrence


Lauri recently joined The UK Veterans Hearing Foundation team, driven by a personal connection and a deep appreciation for the cause. With both of her granddads having served in the armed forces, she has a profound understanding of the significance of this charity and is highly motivated to contribute to its success.

In her role as an administrator, Lauri is dedicated to providing comprehensive support to veterans. She is involved in guiding them through various processes, ensuring they receive the assistance they need with efficiency and empathy. Lauri’s responsibilities extend beyond administrative tasks, as she will soon be playing a pivotal role in the organisation and execution of charity events. Her involvement in those activities will be crucial in raising awareness and garnering essential funds for the foundation.

Lauri’s commitment to our cause stems from a deeply personal place. Her understanding of the veterans’ experiences, thanks to her family background, fuels her passion for making a significant impact. Her enthusiasm, dedication, and skillset make her an indispensable asset to the team and the veterans we serve.

Board Of Trustees

Ben Bennett


Paul Bennett, or, as his friends and colleagues call him, Ben, is the co-founder and Chairman of Trustees of the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation.
Ben joined the army at the age of 16 and carried out 12 months of basic training in the Royal Artillery, and then was posted to Germany to carry out further exercises. Over the course of his more than a decade of time spent in the Armed Forces, Ben carried out tours in South America, Northern Ireland, Canada and the UK. His main role was working on heavy gunnery, including the 105-light gun, FH70, M109 and the Abbott.
Ben would go on to meet his wife on a posting in the UK as he was leaving the army. Today, Ben and Samantha live in Hinckley, Leicestershire, and have two grown-up children who are both audiologists.
Ben is an avid supporter of Tottenham Hotspur and follows Spurs at their stadium whenever he can. He’s also a huge dog-lover and enthusiastic gym-
What’s more, he was lucky to be the very first recipient of hearing aids, albeit self-funded rather than through the charity. His hearing loss is typical of those who have served in the Armed Forces: sensorineural, with worse frequency damage in one ear due to his years spent in close proximity to loud firearms.

Samantha Jayne Bennett

The Founder

“Dear colleagues

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. “

Gary Cooper


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


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 Mercer


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!”

Steve Birdsall


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.



Elin has worked in the voluntary and community sector for nearly 20 years, following a career in education. She was a Senior Manager and Operations Director for a Gloucestershire charity until 2020 and since then has been concentrating on providing consultancy support to charities and voluntary organisations in England and Wales. Elin is also an assessor for two quality standards- the National Council for Voluntary Organisation’s Trusted Standard and  Investing in Volunteers.

Partially & Fully Funded

You will receive a free Hearing Test, all funding for your new Hearing Aids and any accessories you might need! Tinnitus support is also available at no cost!

5 Years

All our hearing technology comes with a 5 year guarantee & hearing aids with a 3 month exchange programme, ensuring your hearing aids are just right for you!


Once you have received your new hearing aids, we continue to offer you support at any time. This includes 3 years of expert aftercare to ensure 100% satisfaction.

Improved Quality Of Life

Our expert can select the best hearing aid systems, tailored specifically to suit your hearing needs. You can then enjoy a new and improved quality of life!

Help Us Fit More Veterans!

Since becoming a charity, we have managed to fit over 100 veterans with top-class hearing aids! However, we still have more than 1,500 veterans who need our help in getting back to a normal standard of life after the hearing damage they received in their years of service. Any donations we receive are a huge help in the lives of our vets and we are eternally grateful for whatever you may be able to spare.

Gold arned force service award

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.

Who We Support