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Cricket for Heroes 2015 Highlights

Cricket for Heroes was one of 2015's biggest events for Help for Heroes. On September 17th fans from across the world tuned in to witness some legendary cricketing names battle it out in front of a packed Kia Oval stadium, London. Take a moment to relive the action with these great highlights, courtesy of Sky.

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Army amputee: mountain biking in Wales made me ‘feel normal again’

An ex-Army amputee who spent last week exploring South Wales on a mountain bike with Help for Heroes has offered a heartfelt thanks to the charity for helping him to ‘feel normal again’.

Simon Taylor, 33, a sergeant with the Light Dragoons, served in Bosnia and Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan. While on a routine patrol in 2009, his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. He suffered a multitude of broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, spinal fractures and a shattered ankle. As a result of the injuries, in 2011 Simon’s right leg was amputated below the knee. He has had a cage fitted around his spine, his shoulder pinned and arm plated. Psychologically he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from feelings of guilt for his comrade who died in the incident.

Simon Taylor 1

In a letter to the Sports Recovery team from Help for Heroes’ Plymouth Recovery Centre who led the trip in the Brecon Beacons, Simon gives thanks for helping him to feel relaxed and at peace in a world he feels he no longer fits into. He refers to the fellow participants, all wounded ex-servicemen, as being ‘uniquely the same’, allowing him to ‘forget all the trouble of the world and just be yourself’.

Simon’s first encounter with cycling post-injury was in 2012, shortly before being medically discharged from the Army, after Help for Heroes funded a mountain bike through its grants scheme.

Simon, who is originally from Middlesbrough but now living with his family in Norwich, commented: “In the Army I was always really active. Running was my escape. After my injury somebody suggested mountain biking; luckily Help for Heroes were able to provide funding. My first time on the bike after receiving it, I went further in that 15 minute ride than I’d been in the last two years. I became addicted. It’s my way of helping with the psychological side of things, getting out and about in nature. It gives me the space to get my head together. I only have one leg for power but when it comes to the downhill stints I’m not limited; I have a sense of freedom.”

Simon Taylor (centre)

Since that first bike ride, as well as taking part in the recent trip to Wales, Simon has biked around Vietnam raising money for Help for Heroes and is now part of the charity’s mountain biking team competing against able-bodied people in endurance races.

After taking part in a Pathfinder course, part of the charity’s career recovery pathway, at Colchester-based Recovery Centre Chavasse VC House, Simon spent a year with the Prince’s Trust who work in partnership with Help for Heroes, before being offered a job with the Jon Egging Trust where he now runs youth development courses for teenagers in leadership and teamwork.

“If Help for Heroes didn’t exist people like me would be lost. Some people think that now Afghanistan is over you don’t need the support, but these injuries will go on for the rest of our lives.”Simon added: “Help for Heroes is all about having somebody or something there, not just for me but for my family. My wife and kids were worried about me; they needed support too.

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Help for Heroes para racing boat officially named

A very special racing boat will now be sailing on the River Tyne after it was officially named and launched at Gateshead Community Rowing Club.

Help for Heroes funded the Para Single Scull racing boat, specially designed for people with disabilities at the club to use.

Ten-year-old Rebecca Moyes won a regional competition for children of Help for Heroes Band of Brothers/Band of Sisters to name the boat.

Her winning name Spirit of the Tyne was chosen by veteran and Indoor Rowing Champion gold medallist Brian Forbes.

He said: “She could not have picked a better name for the boat. It’s so apt as it implies both a fighting spirit but there is also a connection with the North East.”

Para Boat 2

Brian will train on the boat with the aim of taking part in para competitions next year.

The 51-year-old served in the TA from 1984 - 1990, when he joined the Queen’s Royal Hussars for a tour of Cyprus. He then rejoined the TA until 2004.

Brian, who worked as a diesel fitter, was injured at work in 2004, damaging the discs in his back. He suffers with depression as he has not been able to work since 2007.

He said: “As soon as I get out on the water, I just love it. I feel like I could row all day.

“I really appreciate Help for Heroes funding the boat. Everyone says that since I started rowing, I have become like my old self again and am more confident and outgoing. I still have my bad days when I am withdrawn but some days I’m really good and my family say it’s down to rowing and I cannot thank Help for Heroes enough.”

Gateshead Community Rowing Club was formed by veterans enrolled on the Row2Recovery programme, administered by British Rowing and Help for Heroes.  A qualified coach runs regular specialist adaptive rowing sessions.

Mick Downworth,one of the founding members of Gateshead Community Rowing Club, said: “Getting the para single sculling boat means that with British Rowing we can train Brian and other guys to compete at local and national level competitions and enjoy rowing even more.

Para Boat 1

“We have our adapted sea going St Ayles Skiff, which was funded by the Row2Recovery project in participation with Help for Heroes and British Rowing, and this boat will open a whole new dimension. It’s fantastic news.”

Martin Colclough,Head of Sports Recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “Help for Heroes is proud to be funding a para single scull to support Gateshead Rowing Club’s veteran community.

“Our organisations are proudly working together because we understand the value of sport in the recovery process.

“We know that sport can help an individual feel physically empowered and in control, it can rebuild self-confidence and self-belief and it can help an individual find a sense of purpose. We would like to thank the public for enabling us to provide this support.”

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An open letter from Help for Heroes

"Any man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a fair deal afterwards."  - Theodore Roosevelt

For the past eight years we have done exactly what we set out to do; to provide direct, practical support to the wounded, injured and sick. We have done what it says on the tin. We have, are and will continue to support our wounded.

When we set up H4H in 2007, it was as a simple, emotional response to the news of the wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coffins were coming back, boys and girls were being blown apart, lives shattered and we felt that we simply had to do something to help. The great British public felt the same.

When we launched, the response to our simple message was overwhelming. People who don’t want to wear uniform respect those who do; they get it. People understand that the decision to go to war lies with Government, not the Serviceman. But, if he is injured, we want to play our part in helping him get better. We did not want to stand idly by and say ‘it’s a disgrace’ or that ‘someone ought to do something!’. We saw the problem and addressed it; we did something and we are still doing so.


We began with our mission to raise enough to ensure that our amputees would not have to swim in a public swimming pool. We replaced a broken tent called the Falklands Gym with a state of the art Rehabilitation Complex; it has greatly enhanced Headley Court. It cost half what we were originally quoted; we drove the cost down, the quality up and delivered on time. That’s how we operate and that was money well spent.

We could have stopped then but we listened to the wounded who told us that ‘while a pool will be great, what are we going to do for the rest of our lives?’

So, hearing that, we set out to do our bit to ensure that they would get the best possible support. The Army asked us to fund a Pathfinder Recovery Centre in Edinburgh and we did. Then, as more were wounded in the bloody dust of the Sangin valley, we were asked to deliver three more Centres and we did.

To hear that a former Government Defence Minister didn’t want ‘all singing, all dancing buildings’ begs the question… "Ok, former Minister so I assume you wanted sub-standard, inadequate buildings then?"

To be clear, we were asked to provide the minimum, but with wholehearted support from our donors, we chose to provide the best. Surely that’s what our wounded deserve, as Roosevelt said: a fair deal?

Has it been easy? No of course not. It has been a challenge to raise the money, a battle to deliver on time and to do so at the right price.

But with our supporters, we have done just that and we are hugely proud of what we have achieved so far for thousands of our brave men and women.

Recovery is not measured in the number of beds occupied on any particular night; we are not running a Travelodge. These Centres are helping to rebuild lives.

Bo S Cakes

Our brave boys and girls are not just physically wounded. We are helping those with hidden wounds as well. The numbers we support are growing not diminishing. The wounded do not get better the day the guns stop firing.

There are some who will always take a pop at those who actually do something; those who stand up to be counted.

Help for Heroes has done and continues to do what it says on the tin; we support our wounded. We do that in partnership with the military, other charities, our corporate friends and our superb supporters.

It would be brilliant if the naysayers would stop complaining about Help for Heroes and come and do something to help our wounded and their families. Our boys and girls deserve the very best and we will continue to ensure that they get it.

Onwards and Upwards!

Bryn Parry Signature

Quote from Col David Richmond, the most senior British Army soldier to be wounded in Afghanistan – now Director of Recovery at Help for Heroes:

“When I was shot in the leg during a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan, I had to regrow 10cm of bone in my thigh. It is a long, painful process and I was constantly hit by set-backs. Nothing meant more to me than my family’s support, but I was overwhelmed by the public respect for its wounded and for the way Help for Heroes was there for us when we needed them. Most people who are injured in the Forces are young, have their whole lives ahead of them and find themselves in a very difficult position. The worst thing we could do as a Nation is to neglect those who served their country and take away their hope. That’s why, having first met Help for Heroes when I was recovering on a hospital bed at Selly Oak in Birmingham, I wanted to join the charity when I was medically discharged from the Army.”

Quote from the Ministry of Defence:

“The requirement for the Army Recovery Capability was identified in response to a growing need to look after our people differently. The need for this capability, including Personnel Recovery Centres, was established by the Ministry of Defence and was developed at some speed in partnership with H4H and The Royal British Legion. There was a shared vision to meet the challenges of Iraq and especially Afghanistan. We believe what we have delivered is a significant achievement in an incredibly short period of time, which meets an enduring need and provides infinitely better support than was available previously."

Quote from Johnny Mercer MP (Plymouth), a former Captain with 29 Commando Royal Artillery who served in Afghanistan:

“They were faced with a problem that we (this country) had not thought through. As a country we had not planned for this. Should more have been done? Should a framework have been in place? Should we have done better? Absolutely."

Quote from Jim Davidson OBE, Chairman of the Care After Combat charity: 

"Before Help for Heroes, people would look at our forces in a political manner. Help for Heroes made us realise that our troops were people to be proud of and people we should support. We must all work together and we must all support Help for Heroes because if it wasn’t for them, the military charity world would be a sadder place."

You can read Jim's full article on the Care After Combat website.

Key Facts about how Help for Heroes helps:

- Our Recovery Centres are very well used: 3,836 men and women (Serving, Veterans, families as overnight or day visitors) used them between March 2014 and March 2015

- Men and women (Serving + Veteran) with life-changing injuries or illnesses used over 70% of the overnight rooms available at Tedworth House in June and July this year

- Just in July, 622 used Tedworth House for day-time support alone

- Beneficiaries are getting help with welfare and psychological wellbeing, taking part in courses to help them find new careers, and doing sports. We are helping rebuild more and more lives every single day

- H4H does more than Recovery Centres. To date, we have issued £40m of grants direct to nearly 9,000 individuals and nearly 60 specialist charity partners.

- There are a record 6,000 members of our Fellowships – the Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters

- MoD figures obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests revealed that 36,306 men and women have been Medically Discharged since 1991 alone…our Centres only have 200 rooms

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Help for Heroes beneficiaries become first disabled team to complete the Enduroman Arch to Arc Challenge!

Inspire Finish

A team of Help for Heroes beneficiaries from across the UK  have become the first disabled team to complete the Arch to Arch today as part of their own personal journey to rebuild their lives after injury or illness.


After a gruelling nine month training period, the team put all their hard work into action as they took on the Enduroman Arch to Arch Challenge, known as the ‘world’s hardest triathlon’,  running 87 miles from Marble Arch to Dover, swimming the English Channel then cycling 181 miles to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

The clock started at Marble Arch, London, when Team Inspire of the Help for Heroes group departed at 1500 and stopped when they arrived at Arc de Triomphe, Paris.  Team Inspire were the first team across the line having finished all stages, completing the event in 47 hours and 55 minutes.

Rob Cromey-Hawke who competed as part of Team Inspire said: “I and the team are delighted to be stood here at the Arch de Triomphe having set the record for the first disabled team to complete Arch to Arc Challenge.  None of us in the team would be here right now without the amazing support and guidance that we have received from Help for Heroes.

“We’d like to show all other injured service personnel and the UK population that no matter what turn your life takes, you can still achieve amazing things.”

Rob Cromey Hawke 2

Team Support were the second team to cross the finish line at 1700 on Sunday 27th September in a time of 50 hours and 4 minutes. Team Enable were the third team to cross the finish line at 2200 on Sunday 27th September in a time of 55 hours, 53 minutes. 

Competitor Andy Hawkett, from Team Achieve, proposed to girlfriend, Michelle Willson at finale. She said: “I am overwhelmed and ecstatic! What a way to top off the most amazing weekend.”

The first run stage was a close call to ensure the teams arrived in time for the swim and the 0500 tide from ShakespeareBeach, Dover, on Saturday morning. 

Tough conditions on the swim made the challenge even more grueling taking Team Inspire 18 hours to swim 30 miles.  They were able to claw back vital time on the cycle stage as they pushed through the 181 miles.


Team Achieve had to terminate their swim stage of the Arch to Arc Challenge due to tough conditions and chronic sea sickness. The team, however, were determined to finish the challenge and continued the cycle leg as planned to continue to raise funds for Help for Heroes and arrived in Paris shortly after 0900 local time on Sunday.

The challenge participants were wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women that are beneficiaries of Help for Heroes, incorporating all abilities, using sport as part of their recovery journey as they rebuild their lives after injury or illness.

The Help for Heroes team were also supported by former model and TV presenter Jodie Kidd who supported participant, Jen Warren, on the run and cycle routes. 

The team are raising money for Help for Heroes in a bid to give back to the Charity that has supported them as part of their recovery journey. To donate, visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk/arch2arc

Press -release

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