A fourth-generation soldier, Charles Dunphie has spent over 12 years working for the Army Benevolent Fund (ABF), as the charity’s Regional Director in Scotland.
Not only has Charles introduced a range of fundraising events that have increased donations, but he also gives regularly to the ABF himself.
And that’s not all. Charles has kindly pledged a gift in his Will, because in his words: “When problems hit, it’s good to know that someone has stuck their hand out to offer help.”
“I was an Army brat right from the start!”
Charles was born in Aldershot Military Hospital at a time when his father, who had been a soldier since the 1950s, was “starting to settle down a bit, career-wise.”
Theirs was a loving, stable family that still moved around: Charles remembers being in Berlin when he was six years old, and Londonderry a few years later. “I’ve got clear memories of the Berlin Wall and the things that were going on at that time,” he says.
Charles’s grandfathers and two great-grandfathers had also been soldiers, so it felt inevitable that Charles would follow the same route. He was commissioned into The Royal Green Jackets, which then became The Rifles, serving for 18 years.
“The Army is very good at training you,” he says. “They equip you to confront challenges and deal with them. By the time I left the Army, I’d been directly commanding around 120 people and had been responsible for larger numbers at different stages. That was a challenge, but so it should have been!”
“I learned a lot from my father’s experience, but what I learned the most was how important it is to look after your people,” Charles continues. “I saw that everybody – soldiers of many ranks and families – had a huge amount of respect for my dad, because he cared deeply about his Riflemen.”
“Alongside my time as a soldier, the job I’m most proud of is working for the Army Benevolent Fund.”
Charles first heard about the ABF at an Aldershot Military Show he attended as a small child. “My grandfather was a trustee of the charity and my dad often spoke about it during his service, so it was part of our family’s narrative,” he says.
“I’ve got friends and colleagues who have needed to call on the ABF’s help, and in 2019 I chatted with a Normandy veteran at an event. He was in his mid-90s, and I thought it was so impressive that the charity was able to help him, 73 years after he’d left the Army.”
“From my work with the ABF I know how experienced our Grants team is and I trust their judgement. They make sure the money goes where the need is greatest, which helps people in moments of crisis.”
Charles’s predecessor at the ABF had worked part-time, so Charles explains that he had had to “build a little business, in effect. It’s been a challenge and hard work, but I will have made a difference in my own small way and I’m very proud of that.”
“I’ve got a few medals for my military service, but one of the hard-earned ones was walking the Cateran Yomp – 54 miles in 24 hours through the Scottish hills – for the ABF!”
As well as fundraising, Charles regularly takes part in ABF events and donates to the charity personally. “It may not be a fortune, but my support is important; if everyone who had been a soldier was a regular giver it would make a huge difference,” he says.
Although Charles is about to leave the ABF to start working on his family’s farm, he intends to continue volunteering for the charity. When asked why he has also pledged to leave a gift in his Will, he had this to say:
“The Armed Forces demand more of you than other businesses – potentially your life. I think that sets the bar higher and I want to help make sure the Army can take care of its people until the day they die. It’s not like I can keep my money after I’m gone, so if I can make a difference to someone else’s life, why wouldn’t I?”
“If this resonates with you, I urge you to support the ABF with a gift in your Will.”
“I’m as guilty as anyone for putting important things off,” says Charles. “But if you decide you’d like to leave a gift in your Will, seize the moment, because you’ve got the ability to help others. Get it done, and then you won’t have to think about it!”