Former Burnley soldier becomes patron of bomb disposal charity
A former Burnley soldier turned documentary filmmaker is relishing his latest role after being appointed patron of the bomb disposal charity Felix Fund.
Adnan Sarwar served with the Royal Engineers during two tours of Iraq, working in bomb disposal, mine clearance and as an armoured vehicle commander.
He said being approached by the Felix Fund presented him with a chance to give something back to the 'military family' that help shaped his life.
"In 2015, I went to the 75th anniversary of the Royal Engineer bomb disposal unit at St Paul's Cathedral," said Adnan, who left the Army in 2007. "I remember thinking 'wow', that I was a part of this historic tradition. That I was part of something really important, and I had played my small part.
"As I got older, I did start to miss the community; I have always wanted the values and standards of the British Army to be part of my life.
"It felt very nice to be approached by the Felix Fund. I was part of this family, and now I'm back with a more substantial role, focusing on the humanitarian side. I have always been in awe of these people.
"It allows me to not only carry on in a charitable sense, but to also reconnect with old friends who are doing incredibly brave work.
"I went through a couple of bad periods myself after leaving the Army, and I always thought that when I got myself in a position to help others, I should."
The Felix Fund, which will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in 2021, aims to assist with the well-being of individuals within the Exposure Ordnance Disposal and Search Community.
"One of the things I like most about the charity is that it helps not just veterans, but those who are currently serving and their dependents," said Adnan.
"It serves a niche community as well. Decisions are made quickly. If somebody needs a wheelchair, then they have a wheelchair straightaway."
Since leaving the Army, Adnan has gone on to forge a successful media career.
He spent three years as an editor at the Economist, and his film-making exploits have seen him travel to countries including Pakistan, South Africa and back to Iraq in search of hard-hitting stories.
"I have a bit of a platform through my work with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and I want to use this to help promote Felix Fund," he said.
"I will be attending plenty of events, and as soon as we get out of lockdown I will be looking at ways to raise money for them."
Adnan added: "I've been keeping pretty busy during lockdown. I'm working on something with ITV and I've also set up a YouTube channel where I'm sharing a few of the things I've learnt over the years – how to stay organised, the beauty of Chinese poetry; things like that. It's basically introducing people to weird things I like."