The Queen of England has honoured Ghanaian second world war veteran Private Joseph Hammond for his efforts at raising funds to help frontline health workers in Africa fight the coronavirus.
He wanted the funds raised by walking to help the health workers purchase personal protection equipment (PPE) and also support vulnerable veterans in Africa.
Hammond was honoured with the Commonwealth Points of Light award, which recognises inspirational volunteers throughout the Commonwealth.
Iain Walker, UK High Commissioner in Ghana, said “Her Majesty The Queen presents Points of Light awards to outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth who change the lives of their community: Private Hammond exemplifies these qualities.
“I enjoyed being part of Joseph’s walk, joining him to raise funds for veterans and hardworking, frontline health workers coping with the everyday impacts of COVID-19.
“It has been a privilege to get to know Private Hammond and to experience his selflessness. He is a force of nature and an inspiration to many, including me.”
Private Hammond said “I was overwhelmed and filled with joy when I heard I have been chosen to be honoured by Her Majesty the Queen.
This will linger in my memory forever. I wish to thank the mother of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and all those who have made this possible.”
Yet to meet target
Hammond has so far raised £35,000 with a target of £500,000 yet to be reached.
The lively 95-year-old was inspired by another WWII veteran, Tom Moore from Britain, who raised $40 million for UK frontline health workers in a similar way.
I have been inspired by @captaintommoore to raise £500k walking 14miles in 7 days, to support Frontline workers & veterans facing Covid-19 for @commonwealthsec countries in Africa.#WalkWithHammond Please donate: https://t.co/vMMBUD8Tkr @UKinGhana @GUBAFOUNDATION @PoppyLegion
— pte.hammond (@pte_hammond) May 20, 2020
“Like what Colonel Moore did in Britain, I also have embarked on this thing to raise more money,” he told DW on the last day of his walk. “Also, I thought being a veteran like himself, I am doing it for the whole of Africa.”
Hammond fought with the British army between 1939-1945 in Myanmar (formerly Burma), where he was a private in the Gold Coast Regiment of the Royal West African Frontier Force. He is the only survivor of his Ghanaian regiment who fought in the WWII.
He believes the threat of COVID-19 is deadlier than the enemy he fought more than seven decades ago.
“We went to physical war in … Burma, you could see the enemy and plan your strategy during the war how to defeat him,” he said.
“But this is another kind of war. It is an invisible war. You don’t see the enemy. The enemy keeps attacking you.”