Congratulations to Normandy veteran John Jenkins, who on 1 June 2016 was named Portsmouth Volunteer of the Year! We had submitted John for the Arts, Culture and Heritage Volunteer award, reflecting his ten years of volunteering at the D-Day Museum. He won that award, and on top of that we were very pleased that he also received the overall, Portsmouth Volunteer of the Year award. The awards are run by Portsmouth Together.
The D-Day Museum has been fortunate in that for several decades local Normandy veterans have come to the museum regularly to talk to visitors. These days, John is one of only a few veterans who are still able to do this regularly. He relates his experience to visitors in a friendly and informal style, and regularly speaks to a wide range of people, from school children to armed forces groups. In 2014, John also acted in multiple performances of a play (performed at the D-Day Museum and elsewhere) involving local young people. The play was loosely based on John's wartime experiences, and was written as a result of John working with the young people.
John joined the British Army in 1940, and served in 233 Company of the Pioneer Corps in various places in the UK. He landed on Gold Beach a little while after D-Day as a sergeant in charge of a section of about 20 men, who established and ran an ammunition dump behind the beach. He continued to serve in the army in Germany just after the end of the war. Volunteering and public service are clearly a big part of John's life. He has volunteered for some 63 years at Portsmouth Football Club, including about 30 years as boardroom steward looking after guests. After the Second World War, he served for about 20 years in Territorial Army with Royal Hampshire Regiment, finishing as a sergeant major. And last year, at age 95, he became the oldest man to abseil down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.
The volunteering work of the other Normandy veterans who for many years came to the D-Day Museum to talk to visitors, and who were members of the Normandy Veterans Association, was recognised in 2013 when they won the South East region of the Marsh Award for Volunteering.