Yarmouth war veteran’s charity shock

A WAR veteran honoured for his charity fundraising was shocked this week to find his efforts cruelly blocked by bureaucracy after more than 60 years.

John Green, of Caister Road, began raising money for Blesma, the charity for injured ex-servicemen and women, after losing a leg during war service in Italy in 1944.

Over the years most of the fundraising – carried out with his wife Zelia until she died in 2003 – has been through running stalls and tombolas.

However, finding the effort a struggle at the age of 87 he began collecting in the Market Place in his disabled scooter earlier this month – unaware he needed a local authority licence.

Mr Green, who has raised many thousands of pounds over the years, was shocked when he was told he had to stop after a member of the public reported him to the borough council.

He said: “I can understand now why you need rules and regulations because otherwise you could have every Tom, Dick or Harry rattling a tin.

“However, you would have thought the person could have just told me I needed a licence.”

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Mr Green, of Caister Road, Yarmouth, said he worked closely with the charity Help For Heroes and began the street collections because he was determined to still do his bit.

“I printed charity notices and put them on my scooter and used a sealed Blesma collection box which you can’t open. People were very generous and only one person in the Market Place said I was not allowed to approach people like that,” he said.

Mr Green was told he had to stop by a local Blesma official after the council had contacted the charity’s headquarters.

He said: “I was told I could end up in court and even risk being stripped of my MBE.

“Blesma is now going to sort out the licence for me but it is going to take three months because I have to be vetted by the police. Still, I’ll live to fight another day.”

A borough council spokesman said: “Anyone wanting to make a street collection must fill in an application form stating the dates they wish to collect.

“The licence does not cost anything but it has to be sorted at least 28 days prior to the collection.”

A spokesman for Blesma declined to comment on the issue.