Shoeboxes for Our Heroes

A few years ago, I was approached by a chap called Chris Webster and asked if I would consider becoming a patron to an organisation he had started up which he told me was soon to become a charity.

The organisation was called ‘Shoeboxes for Our heroes‘ and, I was told, worked by employing a network of fundraiser and gift donators who assembled shoeboxes filled with goodies to be sent to members of the armed services deployed abroad.

To me, this seemed a very good cause and I was happy to be involved with it. I even raised some funds for the group by auctioning a rare bottle of port and arranging for the proceeds to be sent to them.

Over time, I became aware of issues with ‘Shoeboxes’. Webster always seemed to be in dispute with one person of another – exclusively on Facebook, it seemed – and there were, it appeared, rather a lot of people who had problems with him. Webster assured me this was due to jealousy of the groups success and disputes where people who got involved would want to do things differently, take over etc.

I was also concerned that the charity status never seemed to materialise and there was always excuses for this when I asked about it. And then, last year, a group of people got involved who appeared to be more organised and, at last, trustees were identified – including a Chairman – and it looked like charity status was near.

Then, everything imploded. The proposed trustee chair resigned and allegations started to appear on social media that Webster had been failing to responsibly record finances and had, in fact, been using the group to approach and engage in inappropriate on-line sexual activity with a large number of females.

I contacted the resigning Chair and asked what was going on. As a result, I saw some examples of the activities Webster had engaged in. I immediately contacted my two fellow patrons and we agreed that we would all resign immediately. This we did.

Thereafter, I distanced myself from Webster – despite his attempts to contact me – and from the numerous on-line communications that started, including when Webster was made the subject of an investigation by the Walter Mitty Hunters Club (TWMHC). For his part, Webster denied the allegations made and yet, the evidence seemed to be growing.

And now, it appears he has decided to confess – albeit with excuses – to his wholly inappropriate behaviour on many counts.

But he seems intent on continuing to run ‘Shoeboxes’ in the same way as before and has now registered it as a ‘Community Interest Company’.

Below, is Webster’s admission, posted on the ‘Shoeboxes’ facebook page a couple of days a go but since removed. In it, he admits to some very unsavoury behaviour which I believe makes him an unsuitable man to be involved in running a company that supports troops by sending gifts to them on deployment. He has demonstrated a predisposition to use contacts established through such a group to further his particular sexual activities and, as such, I believe every effort should be made to ensure he no longer is able to do this.

To this end, I would urge you to sign this petition which is aimed at asking those with the power and influence to stop Mr Webster, to do so. It is worthy of note – when reading the following admission – that the claims relating to his family upbringing have since been refuted by his family and that the claims regarding no contact with wives/partners of serving members of the armed services is also refuted by those who have created the petition.

Matt Johnson

Author, Wicked Game.

From ‘Shoeboxes for Our Heroes CIC’ Facebook page;
Statement of fact by Christopher Webster, Director Shoeboxes for our Heroes CIC – company number 10832763 – Former director of Shoeboxes for our Heroes Ltd company number – 0981 9505
2) Admission of inappropriate communication with females via email, skype and SMS
I am both deeply sorry and ashamed to admit that I did engage in sexual chat, send unsolicited, inappropriate & explicit pictures and videos of myself to a number of Ladies all of whom were above the age of consent.
I fully accept that my historic conduct in relation to me sending unsolicited sexual messages, ” sexting” and sending explicit pictures of myself to some 14 females over a period of time, (often when they were at low points emotionally and emotionally vulnerable). However, none of the ladies were married to men from any deployed or serving forces and none were aged under 18.
I fully accept this was totally inappropriate, morally and ethically wrong, spiritually wrong and I am deeply ashamed of the hurt I caused to these ladies, their Partners , their families and to my own Wife and family given the shame I have brought upon myself and vicariously on my family.
My conduct was driven by a compulsive sexual addiction, which I am now receiving treatment for by means of therapy and attending a 12 step group. I have been told this was a caused by a direct result of the severe mental and emotional abuse I suffered as a small child. This in no way excuses my conduct, but goes some way to explaining the compulsion behind it.
I can honestly say that I would never have participated in this inappropriate conduct if I had been emotionally well, sane and working a recovery programme. I am deeply ashamed of the hurt and pain I caused these ladies (who had no part to play in it). Moreover, I am deeply ashamed and totally repentant relating to the manner in which I have dealt with denying this and attempting to blame my victims for which I have no excuses, my conduct was abhorrent and something which will haunt me for a very long time.
I am truly sorry for the harm, hurt and pain I caused and want to offer my apologies and make amends for these harms. Naturally, I would like to say sorry in person, however, it has been suggested to me that part of my ongoing amend will be to not contact any of these ladies again, ever.
As such my apology is being made public and I am truly sorry for the hurt, harm, pain and shame I caused each of these ladies and my own Wife who has been impacted by this old conduct. I am now receiving therapy, working a recovery programme and will not repeat this ever again.
I want to do more than say sorry and as such I will make my amend to these ladies as follows.
I will donate to 25 pounds a month from my salary for 12 months too a Women’s refuge in Derby which is funded by voluntary donations.
http://www.refuge.org.uk/…/derby-city-domestic-violence-se…/
2. Claiming to suffer from service related PTSD and seeking help from Combat Stress.
I am again deeply ashamed & embarrassed by these acts and again, it is something which will haunt me for a very long time.
Whilst I do suffer from diagnosed PTSD and other emotional and mental disorders, they were sustained in childhood given I had a dysfunctional childhood and came from a broken and dysfunctional home, which resulted in me developing emotional, compulsive and addiction issues as a coping strategy.
I have always suffered from incredibly low self-esteem and have constantly looked for approval from others and tried to look for ways to “fit in” I cannot quantify why I acted in this manner, I simply did without ever thinking of the consequences. I can neither condone how I acted given the amount of actual veterans suffering from service related PTSD. I simply wanted to “fit in” I did have a session with the Combat Stress triage nurse who was fantastic and gave me plenty of help and explained a lot what was going on also they passed me on to somebody that could help me.. also I was attacked by my next door neighbour and have constant problems with him to the day its over 2 years since the attack but living next door to somebody who makes your families life hell almost everyday
In relation to the posts I made about fireworks and seeing dead soldiers it was at the same time my dad passed away and remembrance week. I guess I was trying to adapt my own mental illnesses to those I heard others discussing I guess when you talk to so many people you absorb some of what they say and I foolishly saw their trauma and pain as being more “glamourous” than my own and for this I am again both sorry for the hurt caused and deeply ashamed.
I am truly sorry if my actions offended some wounded veterans or the families of veterans and I confirm it wasn’t my intention to hurt or harm I was simply acting as I had always done before seeking help which was impulsively and often pathologically. I have always admired the British Armed Forces hence my charity efforts, but I was unable to complete my own training in the Reserve Forces and this again was another form of almost childish emulation of individuals I deeply admire.
In order to make an amend for this I will donate a sum of 10.00 a month to combat stress for a period of one year and offer to assist them in any fundraising efforts they need to execute.
3. The wearing of items of military clothing, beret, combat trousers etc.
as outlined above, I have always, since childhood, admired the British Armed Forces and as a child joined the cadets. However, due to the nature of my own emotional and mental disorder I was unable to complete my reserve service,due to doing a craft apprencticeship at the railway so , serving some 1 year and 149 days in total. I was discharged at my own request when my own emotional and mental health became problematic and this caused me to massively disenfranchise with my life and I often withdrew into a fantasy world.
I accept that I have “dressed up” as a soldier on many occasions and I truly and sincerely intended to harm, disrespect or hurt from my actions. I can see now that this was wrong and could be construed that I was trying to deceive the public, which I absolutely assure everyone I was not.
I again offer my wholehearted apology to those I have offended both serving soldiers, veterans and the families of veterans or serving forces.
In order to make an amend for this I will cease and desist wearing any form of military clothing at future events and wear my SBFOH Polo Shirts and continue with my charity service via SBFOH.
4. The wearing of a HM Forces Veteran Pin
I again intended no harm or disrespect by wearing this pin which I am legally entitled to wear given the MOD provided me with it on the strength of my service in the reserve forces.
I do however accept it has offended certain individuals given they served in hostile environments and been on numerous deployments which I greatly admire and respect them for.
I honestly didn’t mean to offend anyone and again I simply wanted to fit in with an organisation and people I have admired since childhood. Again, if I’m being honest, I was simply being childish and trying to emulate individuals I greatly admire.
My amend here is that I will cease wearing this pin on all SBFOH events
5) My conduct relating to how I have historically responded to these allegations and for the aggressive manner in which I have conducted myself
I am again deeply sorry for the manner in which I originally responded to these allegations. I reverted in many cases to “child” and lashed out and acted in an immature, sometimes aggressive and often regressive manner. For example the video of me ridiculing the individual who had every right to ask me questions relating to the commercial activities of SBFOH.
Whilst I understand how my aggression and prevarication was construed as me being evasive I was simply acting in pure emotion and I now understand that I acted inappropriately and emotionally and often aggressively when I should have responded in a more measured manner given commercially I have nothing to hide.
The amend here is that I have openly admitted to my shortcomings and misdeeds, have offered to make restitutive amends and I will shortly host an on line Q&A to close this situation in a transparent and dignified manner. I will also apologies to anyone in person that I have abused on line and will not repeat this again. That said I will not accept abuse directed at me moving forward.
Summary
Over the coming days I will host an on-line Q&A and take any questions any of you may have relating to the above. I will have also agreed to work with a member of “TWMHC group” , Mr Paul Anwyll who has informed me that he is a forensic auditor and he is happy to examine the finances for me. I would respectfully request that Mr Anwyll contact me and we can discuss his background and then engage him once he and I are comfortable with each other.
I have nothing to hide and therefore I am not only happy to receive this offer but very grateful for it. Once this is complete, we will be able to provide a detailed commercial statement relating to the old company and the new CIC. I assure everyone that we have not misappropriated funds and often we have used our own funds to supplement the company. We do however accept we have made mistakes in our execution and administration and that we need to up our game in order to win back trust. Please be assured that I have a very well paid career at Rolls Royce which I would never gamble away by being dishonest with SBFOH. I will finish by saying that I do very well financially from my full time career with Rolls Royce meaning I do SBFOH because I want to serve those who serve in the only capacity which I can, given my own mental and emotional illnesses.
Finally I would like to thank the administrators of TWMHC for bringing this situation to a point where I had to accept the issues were real, seek help and admit to them and I would like to offer either TWMHC of Colin Eastaway the opportunity to be appointed as a non-exec of the CIC with full financial oversight of the company’s commercial affairs
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5 thoughts on “Shoeboxes for Our Heroes

  1. A more ‘Glamorous’ one? Do you think PTSD is glamorous. I and many other military sufferes would disagree that PTSD is anything but glamorous. It has taken so many brave souls, and the weaker of us failed in our attempts…foolish man, you know nothing of PTSD.

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  2. The truth will always out. Lets hope he gets what he deserves.
    Aš ex forces myself I dont think he should have AYTHING to do with ANYTHING military.

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