• helen.weir

From tanks to tourists - under the night sky!

Updated: Jul 27


It was purely by chance that Martin Dunkley found out that Age in Spain could help him access his army pension. Or perhaps it was written in the stars! For Martin’s passion is astronomy and he leads groups of tourists to enjoy the night-time skies, stargazing and planet spotting on Gran Canaria.


At least he did, until the pandemic happened. Lockdown kept people at home and Martin’s stargazers stayed home, too. Making use of his own enforced time away from the telescope, Martin decided to be ahead of the game and sort out the exchange of his driving licence well in advance of any deadline.


His first port of call for that was to contact Age in Spain. While discussing the licence exchange – which Age in Spain helped him do – Martin mentioned that he was ex-army.


‘ I was in the Royal Engineers and one of the youngest Class 1 Fitter Machinists in the army at the time. I served first in Ripon in Yorkshire, and then in Willich in Germany where for three years we re-fitted Chieftain AVRE tanks. Only seventeen of them were ever made and on the TV I have seen many in action during the Gulf War.’


In the course of this conversation with an Age in Spain's volunteer Helpline Assistant, it became clear that Martin was not in receipt of his army pensions, and because his passport was in the post for renewal, nor could he access any benefits that would have helped with the loss of income due to the pandemic. Age in Spain were able to secure support from the Soldiers Charity and also from his own Regimental Charity. David Dransfield, an Age in Spain caseworker and himself ex-army, is currently making sure that Martin receives the pension that is due from his years of service.


‘Everything takes a lot of time, but I have left it all in the hands of Age in Spain because there is one person to phone there and you don’t have to deal with different agencies. I kept hitting brick walls, and sometimes Age in Spain hits the same brick walls. But they are continuing to try to help, and I am looking forward to receiving my army pension.’


 

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