The Desert Rats Association - finding funding for commemoration

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Two miles along the A1065 heading north from Mundford, you cannot help but see ‘Little Audrey’, a vintage Cromwell tank, atop a memorial and plaque commemorating the legacy of the British Army’s 7th Armoured Division – the Desert Rats.  

The Desert Rats Association is raising money to build a new memorial to the men and women who have served in the division from 1940 to the modern day. To do that they needed funding, and lead fundraiser Beverley Cooper - a campaigner and fundraiser of many years’ experience and standing -turned to CAN for further advice and direction. 

Finding the right funders 

CAN Community Development Officer Tonya Winsley undertook a funding search to determine the best sources, and advised on presenting the applications in such a way as to maximise the likelihood of success. Beverley says ‘I’m very grateful to Tonya – I cannot tell you how grateful we are for her support, she’s been so helpful.’ 

The good news is that £2,000 has been secured from the Henry Moore Foundation and an amazing £18,000 from the Garfield Weston Trust. As Beverley explains ‘I received a personal phone call from Sophia Weston, executive trustee, who explained that the Trust doesn’t often award such substantial sums but were impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism of the application.’ 

The fact is that funders, particularly those offering bigger grants, require evidence of strong governance and good practice as part of their criteria.  Making a successful application can depend on this. The chances of being successful improve with knowledgeable support to get some of these practices and governance in place.  And that’s where CAN helps. 

The legacy of The Desert Rats 

The Association holds ceremonies and events, provides support to members when required, and helps keep the history of the Desert Rats alive by giving talks and undertaking visits and giving talks at schools, military organisations and other associations. Over time, and as the older original soldiers pass away, there has been a growing desire to build a fitting memorial. 

The new memorial will take the form of a stylised sculpture of the Jerboa Rat, famously adopted by 7th Armoured as their insignia when fighting in North Africa during the Second World War. Commemorating the history of the Desert Rats, and the lives of those who served, fought and died, the new sculpture will take its place at the National Memorial Arboretum along with a restored memorial, formerly sited at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. 

Vision, mission and purpose 

The Desert Rats Association has clearly defined: 

  • Vision  
  • Mission 
  • Charitable purposes  


Having maintained a clear focus on its vision, mission and purpose, the Desert Rats Association was able to present these to potential funders. The Association understands the importance of stating how it achieves it charitable purposes and its willingness to cooperate and collaborate with other organisations where common purpose supports those objectives. 

And the Norfolk connection? 7th Armoured Division was stationed in Thetford Forest while training for the Normandy invasion. Read more about The Desert Rats Association here.  

If your community or voluntary group needs advice and support in applying for funding, contact our highly experienced Community Development Officers at office@communityactionnorfolk.org.uk or phone 01362 698216.