A CHARITY set up to help armed forces veterans and their families stepped in when the Thai wife of a retired South Yorkshire Army officer needed help to pay the plane fare to see him before he died and attend his funeral.
SSAFA - Forces Help agreed to pay £1,200 to cover the cost of Emmy Lyons’s air fare and £120 to cover her costs whilst she was in the UK to say farewell to her husband, David Lyons, who died of cancer at the age of 69.
Mr Lyons, who grew up in Eastwood, Rotherham, but later moved to Old Tupton, Chesterfield, had served in the Parachute Regiment between 1961 and 1968, including a posting in Northern Ireland.
He was transferred to the Territorial Army Duke of Wellington’s Regiment where he reached the rank of Captain.
He emigrated to Thailand 15 years ago, living only on his Army pension, marrying Emmy in 2009.
Brian Birkinshaw, case worker for SSAFA in Rotherham, said: “Mr Lyons was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April this year and was admitted to Bangkok Hospital as a private patient.
“He underwent tests and was advised his only hope was chemotherapy.
“Mr Lyons had spent most of his savings and decided to fly back to England for treatment at Rotherham Hospital.
“However, he was informed his cancer was terminal and was transferred to Rotherham Hospice where he died on May 25.
“After he was admitted to hospital, his young wife borrowed £1,200 for a return flight to the UK.
“Her husband’s friend Lawrence Ward and his wife looked after her until her husband’s death. She had little money of her own.”
Mr Ward, of Broom, contacted SSAFA for assistance and the organisation made approaches to charities the Airborne Services Security Fund and the Officers’ Association, to help repay Emmy’s loan.
Mr Birkinshaw said: “We managed to obtain the full amount and a further sum of £120 from our own Queen Elizabeth Fund to cover the widow’s transport costs.
“Our representative in Bangkok has been informed of Emmy’s current address and has promised to make contact if she needs help in future.”
Mr Ward, a friend of Mr Lyons for more than 30 years, said: “The help SSAFA was able to give made a huge difference.
“Emmy only had a bar job which did not give her enough money to repay the £1,200 loan.”
■ Enjoy a cuppa and help a worthy cause by attending a Big Brew Up event in aid of SSAFA-Forces Help, on Saturday, October 8, between 10am and 3pm at Penistone Scout Hut, Wentworth Road, Penistone.