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Summerfest 2016

Each year the Help for Heroes Tedworth House Recovery Centre holds a summer fete and festival for the Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters. Dubbed Summerfest, the beneficiaries and their families come together and enjoy an afternoon and evening of entertainment. The Band of Brothers fellowship offers lifelong access to support and opportunities for the wounded, injured and sick service men and women and gives them an opportunity to meet one another and share experiences, such as Summerfest. Last year heavy rain washed over the event, luckily this year sunglasses and sun cream were essential items for the day. Over 250 beneficiaries and their families attended and used the marquee as spot to cool down – rather than sheltering inside it.

Attendees enjoyed an array of activities, including an exotic petting zoo with racoons which were a huge success, however the tarantula was more of an acquired taste! Other activities included a rock-climbing wall, a steam train and a bouncy castle which was enjoyed by all the children, and even a few adults. The guests were treated to a huge range of live music from Boudicca’s Boys, Little Folk, Will Lawton and many more – all organised by Marland Music Management.

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‘Some of the live music at Summerfest’ Refreshments included afternoon cream teas, a very popular ice cream van and in the evening a BBQ feast. Giles Woodhouse, Head of Recovery south said: “Many of the Band of Brothers and Band of Sister members communicate with each other online so an event such as Summerfest can help turn those online relationships into real friendships. “As well as the service personnel and veterans meeting like-minded individuals, it allows the opportunity for their families to meet – which has led to some great friendships. I’d like to thank all those who attended, the volunteers, Team Tedworth Volunteers and the BoB/BoS team for working so hard to put this event together”

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The feedback from those who attended was extremely positive and many shared their thoughts on Twitter:

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If you or someone you know would benefit from the lifetime support network of the Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters run by Help for Heroes, contact the team on 01980 844280.

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Heads Together

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma around mental health.

Contact, a coalition of the MoD, the NHS, King’s College London and leading military charities including Help for Heroes, is a core partner in delivering the Heads Together campaign. Through Contact, we are working collaboratively to raise awareness of military mental health and to help the Armed Forces community access the most appropriate and best possible mental health and wellbeing support.

Sporting Stars put their Heads Together

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We all have tough times in life or challenges with our mental health and wellbeing, just as we do with our physical health. Support from people close to us and our networks can make all the difference, even for the sporting stars we think are invincible.

Last week Prince Harry got his apron on and hosted a Heads Together BBQ with sports stars Rio Ferdinand, Dame Kelly Holmes, Victoria Pendleton, Jonathan Trott and Iwan Thomas. He talked to them about the tough times they have been through and the support that has helped.

Many of them brought along someone that has supported and helped them through a difficult time.

Have a look at what they had to say, check out their French Cricket skills and see what happened when Prince Harry and Iwan Thomas took charge of the BBQ.

Most of us will go through a difficult time at some point in our lives, including the sporting stars we may think are invincible. Hearing sporting heroes and role models talking openly about their tough times, and what support has helped them, can help us all feel more confident about reaching out for support when we need it.

Prince Harry and the sports stars were joined at the BBQ by a number of representatives from the Heads Together charity partners, who have used or set up sport related support networks to benefit the mental wellbeing of themselves or others. Scotty Darroch, who served 10 years as a corporal and training instructor in the Royal Logistics Corps, attended the BBQ on behalf of Contact. It took 18 years after leaving the Army for Scotty to be diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); something which has had a devastating impact on the lives of him and his family. Scotty took part in the Invictus Games 2016, after discovering the massive positive impact sport can have on his mental health.

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Heads Together will be featuring individual films with each of the athletes who came along to the BBQ throughout the week. Visit www.headstogether.org.uk/BBQ for more information.

If you are a member of the Armed Forces community and would like to speak confidentially to our Hidden Wounds team about mental health support, please click here.

For more information about Contact, please email alex.hodges@helpforheroes.org.uk

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Injured ex-serviceman Dave Henson selected for ParalympicsGB

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Former Army Captain, Dave Henson (from Fareham, Hampshire) who served with the Royal Engineers, lost both of his legs when he stepped on an IED in February 2011 when on patrol in Helmand, Afghanistan.

“The next thing I knew I was awake in Camp Bastion hospital in the evening after my lads had loaded me on the helicopter. And that was it – legless.”

He subsequently spent five weeks in the care of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, a very highly skilled military medical unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, before being sent to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court.

Dave was in and out of Headley Court for about 18 months, and used swimming as a “vital part” of his recovery. As soon as his wounds were healed, he moved on to open water swimming with his family.

“Time is a big healer as anyone who has been through anything traumatic will know. It just takes time. Probably at six months in I had fully adjusted – not only to the physical side of the injury but to the mental side and the loss of career. That was probably the hardest adjustment to make.”

In 2012 he learned to ski, returned to work assisting other injured servicemen and women and was part of a UK exhibition team that competed in the Warrior Games, an inter-services sports competition for the US Military branches, supported and led by Help for Heroes. Dave returned to the Warrior Games as the Captain of the British Armed Forces Team in May 2013, winning medals in the swimming pool, on the volleyball court and on the track. This first experience of track racing inspired him to take the sport further, pairing up with his sprint coach, Roger Keller, in October 2013.

In 2013 Dave started a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London, graduating with Merit in 2014. During his recent degree, Dave designed a joint recreation implant for use with through-knee amputees that can help amputees regain some of the function lost with the loss of the knee joint. He started his PhD on the same subject in April 2015.

At the same time, Dave continued with his athletics training and became involved behind the scenes of the Invictus Games – an international sports tournament championed by Prince Harry for injured servicemen and women from around the world, where he was the Captain of the British Armed Forces Team. Alongside a hugely successful British Team, Dave took home gold medals in Sitting Volleyball and in the 200m sprint on the track. Despite being new to the sport, Dave’s 2014 PB saw him comfortably into the world top ten.

Last year saw Dave compete on the World stage in various IPC events, with highlights of a silver medal at the Anniversary Games (2015) and seventh place at his first World Championships in Doha – a huge achievement in such a short space of time.

He returned to the Invictus Games this year (2016) in Orlando to reclaim his title and gold medal in the T42 200m, where he ran a Personal Best in front of Prince Harry who was track side watching the race.

“Everyone’s got the right to access sport regardless of your ability or disability. For the military though, sport is massively important because it forms such an important part of our normal everyday working life pre-injury, so for us to have the ability to regain what we might have thought was lost is huge.”

“My goal for sports is to keep on doing it while I still enjoy it. There will probably come a time where my body starts to say ‘Dave, you’ve got to start taking it easy’. Certainly on the blades, because they are quite a big impact on your body. There’s a bit of a price to pay with running that quickly but at the minute my body is feeling alright and I’m still enjoying it so that’s my aim for sport – to go as far as I can, as fast as I can while I’m still smiling!”

The support provided to Dave forms part of Help for Heroes’ partnership with The British Paralympic Association and UK Sport to introduce military personnel to Paralympic Sport.

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Jacko's Tour de Prem

Earlier this month, James Nutt undertook a gruelling 1000 mile cycling challenge in memory of his childhood best friend, and to raise money for Help for Heroes.

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In November 2015, Jack Patrick, sadly passed away from a very rare illness called Good Pastures Syndrome. Endearingly known as Jacko, he was a dedicated fan of Leicester City Football Club, and after their incredibly successful 2015/16 Premiership campaign, James decided the best way to honour Jacko was to cycle to all 20 Premiership Football Clubs (2015/16 season) and to raise money for the charity that was so close to Jacko's heart.

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Starting in Newcastle on 10th July, James visited both England and Wales on his trip, cycled into never-ending head winds, and battled the rain and hail of the Great British Summer! After criss-crossing the UK James made his way towards Leicester City's ground, 7 days after starting his challenge, with 30 riders by his side supporting his challenge and all joining to remember their friend.

James set himself a £1000 target for Jacko's chosen charity, however while on the road James captured people's heart and inspired them by the challenge he was undertaking in memory of his friend, and has so far raised over £10,000!

"It's been a week of pain I'll never forget for a best friend I will always remember" - James Nutt

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To find out more about James' challenge, or to donate to his grand total, please visit his JustGiving Page.

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Work experience opens eyes to support available to forces wounded

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Elliot Wearne-Gould, 17, a year 12 student at Saltash Community School, and Grace Nash, 15, a year 10 student at Richard Lander School in Truro, have been experiencing life at Help for Heroes’ Plymouth Recovery Centre at Devonport Naval Base.

The Recovery Centre is the South West hub for the charity, which supports wounded, injured and sick veteran and serving military personnel and their families.

The students lent a helping hand in the support hub, assisted in the Centre’s gym and hydrotherapy pool, and took a trip to Falmouth to see first-hand what forces sailing charity Turn to Starboard, which receives grant funding from Help for Heroes, is all about.

Elliot and Grace also spent time in the charity’s Hero Garden within the Naval Base, which offers therapy through gardening. The Recovery Centre hosts a weekly ‘Veterans’ Friday’ activity day where the students had the opportunity to sample the activities on offer including table tennis and wheelchair rugby.

Grace, who hopes to have a medicine-related career, said: “It’s been absolutely amazing to do work experience at Help for Heroes. They offer such a variety of things to help people. I didn’t want to leave. There are so many things to do and so many people to talk to; you can’t compare one to the other. I’d definitely love to go back and help if they’ll have me!”

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Elliot, whose ambition is to become a pilot, said: “Hearing the veterans’ stories really touched my heart. It’s been a great experience seeing what the charity does and also being inside the Naval Base as it seems so closed off from the outside. My experience has motivated me so much more to go out and volunteer. I now know there are some great causes out there that need the support of people like me.”

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