I was born in a small village in Cleeve, Nr Bristol.  My name back then was Len Kinsella.  My father who spent 10 years in the Royal Navy during WWII, and my mother who served in the army met at HMS Flying Fox in Bristol and eventually married.

Both came from large families. Dad had Irish origins to Carig on Banner a small village in County Wexford.  Mum was from a small village called Llanfihangel-tor-y-mynydd.  Dad had a hard time in the Royal Navy in WWII, he was sunk twice,  one of the ships was e HMS Dorsetshire sunk by the Japanese.  My mother had notices to say on both occasions he was missing in action.

Dad's brother James (Jimmy was KIA in Uden in October 44).  Jimmy served with the Queens Own Surry Regiment.  After the War Mum and Dad settled in Cleeve and initially they worked as House Keeper and Gardener/Handyman at Cleeve Hall where I was born.  Dad passed away suddenly in 1967 aged just 45 years old.  He is buried in Cleeve Church.

My mother eventually remarried and we all moved to Hereford, to be with Pete our new step-father.  Pete did not serve in the War but did serve in the RAF.  In 1970 my surname was changed to Chappell.

Life was tough in Hereford during my school and early work years, and in 1975 I joined 6LI in Ross-on-Wye which was part of the territorial Army.  Within the year I joined the Army full time and transferred to the Royal Green Jackets.  After leaving the 2RGJ I continued in the TA and served again with the light infantry and the signals in Hereford.

I spent 10 years working in the Leisure industry in Swimming Pools and Sports centres, starting as a part time sauna attended and quickly gaining qualifications to become a manager in 1984.  Following my leisure career I worked three years for the Leadership Trust in Ross-On-Wye and managed a taxi service in Hereford and a video games shop in Leominster, before finally settling down to work with children in residential homes for the next 23 years.  I now live in Swindon where I have been since 2008 following Jean's passing.

I moved to Swindon to be with Sue and we are still together.  Initially I was in a house that I never saw before I moved in, and downsized to a much smaller property.  Life was full of mixed emotions, and next door were two big dogs which just barked all day long, and my concentrations levels were low.  I wanted to get involved more in helping people but was not sure how.

Then in August 2012 Sue had sold her house and we moved to Old Town to a flat which was peaceful and I was able to concentrate again on my computing skills.  I wrote a couple of websites.  I was still developing sites the hard way in HTML and PHP coding.  In early 2013 I decided to again try WordPress and convert one of my sites over to the platform, and this time I kept going.  I wrote a few more sites in WordPress learning as I went, and adding more skills along the way.

Later in the year I bumped into an old colleague from my RGJ days.  Dave lived in Spain and I used a Facebook Group to send him some old imaged I had.  A couple of days later I found Dave had added a few of his own friends and colleagues and a Tour site from South Armagh was developed on Facebook.  Soon after this I developed We Are Green Jackets on Facebook which is still the biggest.

I wanted more and came up with Forces United.  I searched companies house and a couple of other places for the name and went ahead with it in September 2013.  I soon found myself getting into deep water when Forces ReUnited challenged the name, which forced me to rebrand to Forces Online.

Initially just a social media and small web presence it got slowly bigger until February 2016 when it became Forces Online CIC.  I realised that there are still a lot of veterans and their families that need help.  In April 2020 the CIC was converted to Forces Online CIO and was finally a registered charity.  The following January it was registered in Scotland as Forces Online Scotland and became a cross-border charity.  Over the years many people have come and gone, and I am sure we have been responsible for the inspiration of other organisations.

Its been a big learning curve doing what we do.  I carried most of the ideas in my mind, and made sudden changes to the structure often driving the team mad.  Since we became a charity we knew that we would have to ensure all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed.  Additional parts of the organisation surprised me, one being the formation of our welfare team, and the other the finance team.

Finding more dedicated people to support me has been the key.  I could list their names but they know who they are.  Since the start of the registered charity things have started to come together, we are forward thinking and work to one rule, and that is to Help veterans and their families wherever we can which is a tall order.  Our services have become project based each with its own website linking back to the main site Forces Online

In April 2020 the VirualHub.uk service started as a virtual drop-in, and this allowed us to conduct training and meetings online and has now become our virtual offices.  We remained fully open throughout the Covid19 Crisis.

In January 2021 our WelfareSupport service started to help veterans and their families.

The VeteransDirectory was finally separated from our main site to become our information and contact system.

VeteransHardship was registered to become the new home of the Tom Howat Memorial Hardship Fund (Restricted).

There are two other projects in the pipeline which I am looking forward to.  One of these is nearing completion, whilst the other is in the planning stages.  These are both linked to Fundraising and a homeless project.  We will publish more about them when they are at the launch stage.

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