AN ARMED FORCES fun day near Shaftesbury helped raise £25,000 for charity, with a little help from film director Guy Ritchie.

The Fun In The Field non-profit event in Berwick St John, close to Shaftesbury on the Dorset-Wiltshire border, this year has raised £25,000 for SSAFA (Soldiers', Sailors', and Airmen's Families Association) - the Armed Forces charity.

The event started off as a barbecue for friends but progressed over the last eight years into a massive fundraiser – and a lifeline for some attending veterans.

Organised by Royal Navy veteran Gary Hall and his wife Yvonne, plus Colour Sergeant Ian Smith RM, and the Fun in the Field Admin Team, the event spans a long weekend of music, games and camaraderie.

There were live bands, children’s entertainment, a galley kitchen and a bar and hog roasts, with around 500 people attending.

Dorset Echo: Fun in the Field 2023 helped raise £25,000 for charityFun in the Field 2023 helped raise £25,000 for charity (Image: SSAFA)

The bar was supplied by Gritchie Brewing Company, a local brewery owned by Guy Ritchie.

Gritchie did not charge for the hire of the bar equipment and provided the beer at a reduced rate, so all profits went straight to the charity.

Yvonne said: "The event is private, open only to serving persons, veterans and their families, and local residents are also invited.

"There is a strong military tradition, with a Memorial Board to those ‘Fielders’ (attendees) who have passed away, with a bell being rung twice in their honour, after which, there is a minute’s silence, the Last Post, then the partying begins in earnest.

Gary said: “We are very mindful that the event doesn’t get too big. Our ethos is to bring like-minded people together in a field to have some fun and share their own stories.

"It’s like a big family coming together.

“It’s humbling to hear people sharing their mental health issues, and our event helps them to get through that by making them feel connected to everyone in the field.

"That’s why we do it, and that’s why we raise the money for SSAFA.”

This year, the weekend raised £10,000, but the Team raised an additional £15,000 from two sponsored walk events, one being the 13 Bridges Challenge in London and the other a sponsored walk from Fareham to Berwick St John, bringing the 2023 total to £25,000.