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Afghan Heroes founded by Denise Harris is to close over misgivings

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: April 08, 2014

By JEFF WELLS

  • Denise Harris set up the charity following the death of her son who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. The charity is now being investigated

  • Denise Harris set up the charity following the death of her son who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. The charity is now being investigated

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A soldier's charity is to close down after it raked in £555,000 in donations – but spent just £15,000 on actually helping people.

Afghan Heroes was founded by Denise Harris in memory of her son Lee who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Nad-e-Al while serving in Afghanistan in July 2009.

The Charity Commission froze the organisation's bank accounts and launched an inquiry in December into the charity which helps hard-up and injured former soldiers.

But an interim manager has now declared the charity "no longer a viable concern" and that it will be wound up while the investigation continues.

In a letter to former volunteers, interim manager Brian Johnson of HW Fisher & Company, said: "As a result I am, I am in the process of winding down the operations of the charity and no further action should take place in terms of events or other fundraising or support activities."

During 2012, Afghan Heroes received £548,440, and while it spent £516,288, just £15,153 went on helping soldiers and their families. Some £241,014 was spent on encouraging people to donate money, £233,910 on fundraising events, and £190,479 on wages for eight full-time and 16 part-time staff.

Fundraiser Tony Hall, volunteered for the charity four days a week and raised around £20,000 for the organisation over three years after he met founder Denise Harris.

Mr Hall, who left when he found out the charity was under investigation, said: "I feel sorry for them in truth. She lost her son and that is sad.

"They didn't expect this. They expected to get through it I think.

"I don't hate them for what has happened. It is just that I wonder where the money has gone sometimes.

"It is all very well saying it is being wound up and it is not 'viable' but where has all the fundraising that we worked so hard for gone?"

The commission met with the trustees last October to discuss misgivings but still had concerns about financial mismanagement so started an inquiry. In a statement at the time, the watchdog said it was looking at the charity's management and administration including "the significant risk to, and potential loss of, the charity's funds or other property".

It is also investigating "unmanaged conflicts of interest and unauthorised trustee benefits" and whether trustees have made any failings. In a statement in December, Denise Harris, 50, said the Somerset-based charity had tried to act properly.

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2 comments

  • Free2opine  |  April 08 2014, 2:16PM

    So no different then, than many other "charities" who spend more on their "management costs" than the animals. people etc that are supposed to benefit from donations!!!

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  • StanStill  |  April 08 2014, 10:59AM

    We all know some charities spend more on wages and perks than on what they are meant for.

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