Borough charity hits back at ‘waste’ claims

Veterans Council's ex-chairman Des White
Veterans Council's ex-chairman Des White

The former boss of an under-fire St Helens charity which was created in the borough has robustly defended its record following national press criticism.

Des White, who used to run the Veterans Council, hit back strongly at allegations the organisation had wasted money from the Government’s Libor fund to help ex-personnel.

A national newspaper investigation claimed the charity, which is based in Rainford Hall, had moved into a “stately home” as well as spending £30,000 on furniture and £100,000 on salaries in a 12-month period.

However, Mr White said its move to Rainford Hall in St Helens was not a waste of money and the charity had managed to do a vast amount of good while being strictly monitored by national bodies.

He said: “The Veterans’ Council did some fantastic work. It’s a Wigan success story, not a Wigan disaster. It started as a small group here and grew into a national, well-respected organisation.

“I agree Rainford Hall is a country house but it has been set up as an office and the rates are comparable with anywhere else in the area.

“They gave us a large room downstairs with better wheelchair access for free and another free meeting room whenever we wanted it.

“We are quite proud of what we achieved. The prime minister twice said how good we were.

“We were transparent and we were being monitored constantly by Libor to make sure we did everything right. We were open and honest because that is the Wigan way.

“Hundreds of veterans contacted us through our database, we were working on accrediting organisations so people didn’t go to voodoo services, we partnered with the NHS, worked with Channel on radicalisation and were helping veterans in Vietnam.”

Mr White was forced to step aside from his role with the Veterans’ Council due to ill health and the organisation is now based in Lytham St Annes.