England captain Harry Kane becomes veterans charity ambassador
England captain Harry Kane encourages the public to buy a silhouette of a British soldier playing football as a nod to the 1914 Christmas truce.
Kane said he was “delighted” to become an ambassador for the Tommy Club, an initiative run by the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) to enable members of the public to lend their support.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker and ex-army chief Lord Richard Dannatt are backing the campaign which sees the famous figure of Tommy standing with a football under his foot.
“The RBLI has been supporting military veterans for over 100 years and I know the great work they do employing ex-servicemen and helping them overcome significant challenges,” Kane said.
“I encourage people to get involved and support the Tommy Club because every new champion makes a difference.”
Tommy figurines are made by veterans working for the RBLI and were first sold in 2018 to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.
Updated versions were also made this year to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
The new character, called Tommy United, recalls the Christmas truce of 1914 which saw British and German soldiers stop fighting and meet in no man’s land, some playing football.
Lord Dannatt said that “soldiers, whether British or German, are just people”.
“I think the fact that they were able to connect with each other, and that the stories were well known – was it them on Christmas Eve, both sides singing Silent Night and hearing it drift through the no man’s land – it started a conversation, so that they felt bold enough, maybe at first light on Christmas Day or during the day, to talk man to man, human to human? “said Lord Dannatt.
“It’s a pretty powerful image of human nature.”
Tim Brown, who served in the military between 1987 and 2010, is one of the veterans working on the Tommies.
The story of the 1914 truce has additional resonance for him because of something he found in his great-uncle’s war diary three years later.
“Boxing Day he played football with 128 Siege Battery and Major played, apparently,” he said. “They lost 3-1.
“So he didn’t play football with the Germans on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, but they played a game themselves.”
Mr Brown believes sport has the power to unite people and the Christmas Day truce still resonates today as it is “a story of forgiveness and coming together”.
“Football is and has always been a common language between different nations and someone had a ball, it crossed borders,” he said.
“It’s just a shame it didn’t last longer.”
Cover image: Harry Kane in action for England in a UEFA Nations League game at Wembley last month (Photo: PA).