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Michael Ball's £78,000 thanks to Help for Heroes

Two-time Olivier Award winner and multi-platinum recording artist Michael Ball hands over a cheque for £78,243.01 - the proceeds from the 2014 West End Heroes gala he hosted at the Dominion Theatre in aid of Help For Heroes.

Michael also announced that the unique event will once again unite the country’s top military musicians with West End performers and productions in a dazzling showcase of showstopping numbers, unlikely song mash-ups and stunning choreography and precision drilling, at the Dominion Theatre on Sunday October 4, with a target of £100,000.

Handing the cheque to Hero Bear he said: “I want to say a massive personal thank you to everyone who took part and those who came to see West End Heroes. We are so proud of the money raised and what we achieved - we had the best time doing the show, and it was a great night!”

West End Heroes Producer David Pearson, the Dominion Theatre’s General Manager, said: “This is a massive achievement in only our second year. I want to thank everyone involved in what was a colossal undertaking - there were 200 people performing on stage and a small army behind the scenes, most who worked for nothing on their day off. The money raised will make a huge contribution to the amount needed for Help for
Heroes to carry on their incredible work.”

Cheque

The host for this year’s West End Heroes is still to be announced.Returning to form the centrepiece of the gala and under the baton of Squadron Leader Piers Morrell will be The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, which is widely regarded as one of the finest military bands in the UK and incorporates the celebrated RAF Squadronaires Big Band.

West End Heroes will once again be generously supported by many TV and theatre stars and will feature line-ups from current and past West End Shows. There will again be a performance from the West End Heroes Choir – made up of people working behind the scenes in the West End. More cast will be announced in the coming months.

For some, recovery can be swift – for others, it is a life-long journey with changing needs along the way. Help for Heroes aims to support this process however long or short it may be.

Bryn Parry, Co-Founder and CEO of Help for Heroes said: “We’d like to thank West End Heroes for their dedication towards raising such an amazing amount for Help for Heroes over the past two years. We’re thrilled to work with West End Heroes again in 2015 and look forward to another fantastic event at the same time as raising a significant amount of money to help our injured Servicemen and women and their families.”

Tickets are now onsale at www.westendheroes.com

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Great Big Cornish Gig Project

Help for Heroes has joined forces with the National Maritime Museum Cornwall to develop a unique boatbuilding project which will open up gig rowing to new audiences.

The Great Big Cornish Gig Project, core funded by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant scheme, will see wounded, injured and sick serving and veteran forces personnel train in boatbuilding skills, build a gig and ultimately row their gig to the Scillies for the 2016 World Pilot Gig Championships.

The project launches on 1 June with beneficiaries from Help for Heroes Plymouth Recovery Centre and Hasler Company, the Royal Navy’s rehabilitation unit, training before starting on the construction of the gig. The build will take place in the Museum’s dedicated workshop in Falmouth supervised by professional boat builder, Andrew Nancarrow.

Big Gig Project

The brain child of Mike Selwood and Andy Wyke from National Maritime Museum Cornwall, this project has taken months of planning, funding applications and development. A year on from its inception, the Museum and the organisations behind the project are looking forward to delivering a first for the sport, for Cornwall and most importantly a first for wounded serving and veteran personnel.

Mike Selwood, Project Manager behind the build says: “The real inspiration for all of this is down to one man, a Royal Marine, called Al Henderson. Al was undertaking a rehabilitation boat building course through Hasler Company and Falmouth Marine School at our boat storage site at Ponsharden. I knew he’d been through tough times, we got chatting, one thing led to another and whilst being introduced to his mentor the idea of really doing something for the community of wounded veterans came to me.”

“If, at the end of the project in May 2016, we have opened up new opportunities to wounded military personnel, inspired a new audience to the heritage behind these Cornish boats and built a gig that is not an obstacle to those who want to row it, we will have achieved everything we aimed for.”

A NVQ modular programme delivered by Falmouth Marine School supports the project, offering the opportunity for participants to complete an NVQ level 3. A further programme of leisure pursuits available one day a week ranging from water and land based activities is supported by the Falmouth A&P Group.

Jock Easton, General Manager at Help for Heroes, Plymouth says: “We’re delighted to be part of this. To offer a recovery pathway to our personnel through this unique opportunity and to be part of something that can influence the gig rowing scene is quite exceptional. Some of the team taking part have just returned from competing in the World Pilot Gig Championship on the Isles of Scilly. It’s brilliant for them to have the chance to build a gig they may race in the future.”

H4H Gig Rowing Team 4

Richard Doughty, Director of National Maritime Museum Cornwall concludes: “This exceptional project clearly shows how a bright idea, supported by a partnership of likeminded people can deliver something quite extraordinary. It is truly exciting to be part of something that potentially will change the face of Cornish Pilot Gig racing. The opportunity to open up the sport to a wide range of participants is unique and one we are all very keen to accomplish and deliver.”

Once built, rowed out to the Scillies and raced in the World Pilot Gig Championships, the gig will be donated to Help for Heroes.

To keep up to date with the project, keep an eye on the Museum’s website at www.nmmc.co.uk and facebook and twitter page for time-lapse footage, stills and news about its developments.

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Hidden Wounds launches at Phoenix House, Catterick

We’re delighted to announce that our Hidden Wounds psychological wellbeing service has expanded and is now up and running in Phoenix House, Catterick, following its success at Tedworth House in Wiltshire.

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This has made our service even more accessible to Veterans and Armed Forces families, who are now able to receive face to face support at either of these two Recovery Centres, by phone or by Skype.

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Hidden Wounds can support veterans of any conflict, their families and the families of those currently serving who are living with excessive worry, stress or low mood. These emotions affect many of us on a day to day basis but when they become dominant for days, weeks or even months at a time, it can be difficult to manage them alone. 

The service helps individuals to understand and positively manage these emotions, by giving them a set of skills that can be used in everyday situations to challenge and modify their behaviour in certain situations.

Veterans and family members in need of support are encouraged to take the first step to support by contacting the Hidden Wounds team, weekdays 9am-5pm.

Email: hidden.wounds@helpforheroes.org.uk

Tel: 0808 2020 144 (free from landlines)

Web: www.helpforheroes.org.uk/hidden-wounds

Please note, this is not a helpline. For immediate assistance please call the Combat Stress helpline on 0800 1381619..

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Roy Taylor: Recovery in Poetry

Roy Taylor served with the Royal Navy in the Falklands and was eventually diagnosed with PTSD in 2010. One of our partner charities, Combat Stress, referred him to Help for Heroes as he was struggling with motivation, poor sleep and high levels of anxiety interspersed with low mood.

He first came to us in July 2014 to take part in our Rolling Recovery Programme – a series of activities run at our Recovery Centres, specifically designed to aid an individual’s recovery. It involves sports-related activities such as seated volleyball and indoor skiing to wellbeing activities such as art, yoga and woodland events.

In his words, Roy came to Help for Heroes to: ‘get myself in a better frame of mind and learn new ways of coping to improve my life and future’. He did some work with the Psychological Wellbeing team at Tedworth House Recovery Centre in Wiltshire, to focus on improving his mood and outlook. The team also helped by refreshing his coping strategies and utilising Mindfulness as a tool, something he was already using. 

Roy engaged with all of the Recovery activities at Tedworth House, finding the Sensory sessions particularly helpful in restoring a healthy sleep pattern. He also found the complimentary therapies and yoga hugely beneficial.

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Roy is passionate about helping others to understand and manage their own mental health problems, so he continues to overcome personal challenges by sharing his experiences with other Veterans.

He took part in a creative writing workshop at Tedworth House and his interest in poetry flourished.  

Recognising that his mood was very low and he was withdrawing, Roy recently applied to return to Tedworth House for a few days to ‘reset’ himself. The visit was hugely beneficial and inspired Roy’s latest poetry.

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To find out more about Help for Heroes psychological support, visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk/hidden-wounds

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Gi Group give and gain at Tedworth House

A team of staff from Gi Group UK visited Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House, today as part of Give and Gain Day.

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They volunteered to come along and help out with tasks in the woodland and garden  – making new bird boxes and woodland benches - all helping create the amazing environment which supports recovery by providing quiet and reflective spaces for our wounded, as well as supporting our environmental programme at the Recovery Centre.

The team were also given a tour of Tedworth House and met Help for Heroes Band of Brothers member, Graham “Harry” Monk (below, left), to learn more about how the money they raise is used and how much their support is appreciated.

Steve King from Southampton Gi said, "Coming today has given me an appreciation of how in-depth the support is that Help for Heroes provides. It's really eye-opening. This is a place I'd like to be here for years and years; always here to provide support." 

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Gi Group staff voted for Help for Heroes, the first time a nationl charity partner has been chosen, and are aiming to raise £50k for the charity through a wide range of fundraising activities - from cakes sales and skydiving to a fundraising ball.

Gi Group UK Chief Executive, Jess Watts said: “Choosing Help for Heroes was a decision based on the strong synergies between the two organisations - which both passionately strive to help improve the lives and prospects of those they work with. It is a strong cultural fit and a charity the company has been proud to adopt.

“We are already a highly motivated fundraising organisation but the selection of Help for Heroes as our designated charity will help us make a real impact by focusing staff engagement, effort and resource even further.

“What proved equally compelling for Gi Group UK was theopportunity to provide tangible value through the training, mentoring and re-employment opportunities our expertise can provide for injured service men and women.”

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 Read more about our partnership with Gi Group UK here.