Lottery grant made World War Two veteran's visit to Singapore possible
OF the 94 lottery grants awarded across Bolton last year, one particular grant might tug at the heartstrings more than others.
In August, The Big Lottery Fund awarded a £4,070 grant to great-grandfather Frank Williamson, a 91-year-old World War Two veteran, for a commemorative visit to Singapore, where he was stationed during and after the war.
The money allowed Mr Williamson to travel to the Far East with son Frank and daughter-in-law Christine in June.
Mr Williamson, of Mary Hulton Court, Westhoughton, saw how the Asian city had changed over the years and visited the gravestone of one of his wartime comrades, who had died there.
This was Mr Williamson’s second visit to Singapore since the war after he received a £3,700 grant to visit the city-state in 2010.
Had it not been for The Bolton News, Mr Williamson would most likely have never revisited Singapore.
He said: “The first time I went back to Singapore, I saw an advert in The Bolton News inviting people like me to apply for a grant. Had I not bought the paper that day, I never would have done anything about it.
“The same thing then happened last year. I never expected to return to Singapore, so to go twice was fantastic.”
“Singapore was completely different to what I remembered. It’s much more commercial now and has big skyscrapers everywhere, but it was an enjoyable experience.
“It was emotional visiting the grave of James McConnell, who was part of my squadron during the war. It reminded me of how lucky I am to still be here.
“The Big Lottery Fund is fantastic — it’s done me proud and I’m eternally grateful to The National Lottery.”
Mr Williamson was conscripted into the RAF in 1942, serving two years in England before being posted to the Far East in November, 1944, where he served in Singapore, Burma, India and Sumatra.
At the war’s end, Mr Williamson’s squadron was detailed to return to Singapore after three years of Japanese occupation and they remained there for eight months.
Mr Williamson eventually returned to Britain in 1946.
The grant was provided to the Heroes Return programme, which helps World War Two veterans who saw active service take part in commemorative visits.