10000th H4H Grant

A brain damaged war veteran left unable to speak or walk properly is receiving support from Help for Heroes to ensure his home is safe to be in and to end his “living nightmare”.

Former Lance Corporal Simon Vaughan has been living in an unsafe home ever since his newly-purchased property in Shropshire had to be demolished and rebuilt for his needs. However, builders left it partially finished meaning it does not have a completion certificate and is deemed unsafe. Simon sought support from military charity Help for Heroes which has awarded him £5,000 to make the necessary changes to his home so it is safe to live in.

Simon And Lynne2

The grant from H4H is the 10,000th individual grant awarded since H4H started providing financial assistance in 2010.

Simon, 32, of Newport, Shropshire, suffered a serious brain injury when a Land Rover he was travelling in drove over an improvised explosive device in Musa Qala, Helmand Province on 6 December 2008. Army medics fought to keep him alive and his heart stopped beating at the scene of the attack, starving his brain of oxygen.

His family was told by doctors that his brain injuries were so severe he would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. In fact, medics were so convinced he would not survive the journey home that he boarded a plane with an obituary pinned to his bag. Simon, who was serving in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, also suffered a broken jaw, shattered pelvis, collapsed lungs, and broken back in the explosion. He remained in a coma for 44 days before beginning his long road to recovery.

In 2009, he and his now ex-wife bought a bungalow in Ercall Heath for £295,000 in cash without a survey. When construction work began to adapt it for Simon’s needs, builders discovered that the house was structurally unsafe. At a cost of £300,000 more, the bungalow had to be demolished and rebuilt. However, the work was only partially completed and it meant Simon has been living in a house deemed unsafe and without a completion certificate.

The £5,000 grant from Help for Heroes will enable Simon to make necessary home improvements to get the completion certificate including installing smoke detectors, repairing ceilings and cracks on the floor, a gas safety certificate for the boiler, installing vents and a gas bottle store.

Had the grant not been given, Simon, who also completed tours of Iraq in 2003 and Northern Ireland in 2005, would have had to stop paying for his speech and language therapy to afford the cost. He explained how it all took his toll on him.


 “My mental health has really suffered,” he said. “I wasn’t sleeping and I was so frustrated all the time. I just became really angry when I realised the state the house was in.

“When I found out Help for Heroes were going to support me, I couldn’t stop smiling.  It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders and it relieves so much pressure. I’m look forward to having my happiest Christmas in a long time.”

Simon’s mother Lynne Baugh, 54, now her son’s full time carer, added: “The house needs to be suitable for a severely disabled person and at the minute, it’s nowhere near that standard. It’s just adding so much stress to what is already a difficult situation handling Simon’s disability and we nearly reached crisis point.

“Every day it is like waking up to a nightmare. It’s been hell. But finally we can see a way out and improvements can be done.”

Claire Barnes, Head of Grants at Help for Heroes, said: “At Help for Heroes, we are passionate about ensuring our wounded, injured and sick get the very best support to rebuild their lives. Often, they need financial support to kick-start a new career, receive psychological support, make necessary adaptations to their home, take up a new sport or in some instances, relieve their debt.  

“We could not have delivered this essential support without the generous donations from the public who have answered the call to help our brave men and women of the Armed Forces.”

Since 2010, Help for Heroes have provided 10,000 individual grants to the wounded, injured and sick and their families to enable them to rebuild their lives, totalling £12,000,000.

Of those 10,000, 20% were for sporting activities, 18% for vocational purposes, 10% for housing and 18% for non-debt financial reasons. Grants are also given for issues such as debt, respite breaks, white and brown goods and psychological wellbeing.

If you’re wounded, injured and sick and need support, please visit Get Support.

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Help for Heroes helps brave Veteran after his house is ruined by ‘cowboy builders’

A former soldier paralysed from the waist down in a roadside blast in Afghanistan was left devastated after his adapted home was ruined - by 'cowboy builders'.

Royal Engineer Ben Zissman, 27, was a member of the TA and serving with 21 Royal Engineers Royal Monmouthshire in South Helmand in 2010 when an IED charge hit his vehicle.

Ben Zissman House 2

He woke up six weeks later with a broken ankle, four smashed ribs, a fractured pelvis and an injured spinal cord, and battled to get his life back on track with his childhood sweetheart and now-wife Ciara, 27.

Ben Zissman House 3

After Ben had gone through years of treatment at Headley Court, the couple were able to buy their dream bungalow in 2011 and moved in the next year.

Their new home was specially adapted with ramps, rails and adapted bathrooms thanks to government grants.

But a few years after the work was completed suspicious damp patches appeared on the walls of their three-bed bungalow.

The couple were devastated to discover that the workmen - who have apparently since ceased to trade - had failed to properly install the pipes to the wet room, they said.

Investigations revealed faulty pipes were slowly leaking and gradually destroying the house. Throughout the property, damp and mould had ruined the underfloor beams.

The pair were told they would have to move out while workmen dried out and ripped up the floors of their home.

Ben, who relies on a wheelchair, faced eight weeks away from his wife as well as his home.

However, thanks to Help for Heroes, Ben and Ciara were able to stay together while the remedial work was done.

The Charity funded the majority of their £4,000 stay in a fully accessible and adapted holiday cottage near to their home.

Brave Ben, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said: "Moving into my own house felt like a huge step forward for me, and the prospect of not having that felt like taking a massive step back.

“I had grown to really feel comfortable there - knowing where a rail was or how to get from one place to another.

Ben Zissman House 4

“That was a lot more important to me than it might be for another person, so it was really daunting to hear that I'd have to move out.

"We couldn’t believe it when we realised what had happened.

“It was a case of the guys that did it just not knowing what they were doing properly. It was really upsetting to see the state they had left the house in. “

"Due to my needs, and having a dog, and needing to be near my wife's work, we couldn't just live anywhere," said Ben.

"Going back to a care setting would have been a big mental battle.

"After everything we had achieved it was bad enough that the house had been ruined. Help for Heroes helped me keep my independence.”

The pair are now back home and keen hand-cyclist Ben is continuing to pursue his dream of becoming a Paralympic cyclist.

Ben Zissman House 5

Claire Barnes, Head of Grants at Help for Heroes, said: “Ben and Ciara were facing two months of separation during what was already an incredibly stressful time for them.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Great British public, Help for Heroes was able to help them stay together, close to home, while repairs were done to their house.

“It’s vital that we’re able to support our wounded whenever they might need it and we’re delighted that Ben and Ciara are now back in their home.”

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South West veterans with severe mental health issues to benefit from Help for Heroes funding

Chris Jones 1

Veterans in the South West suffering from severe mental health problems will get quicker access to support thanks to £390,000 of funding from military charity Help for Heroes.

Help for Heroes is grant funding £390,000 to the South West Veterans Mental Health Service (SWVMHS) to improve mental health support to military veterans and reservists across the South West of England.

A former Private in the Army Air Corps, Chris Jones, 43, of Ivybridge, was discharged when he was just 25, barely able to walk. He suffered several injuries to both legs and now frequently uses a wheelchair. More recently, he was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. He has experienced feelings of inadequacy, guilt and failure ever since, because he can no longer do the only job he had ever wanted.

As his mental health began to deteriorate Chris sought help and was supported by a Psychological Wellbeing Advisor through Help for Heroes for four months before being signposted to the SWVMHS for further treatment. He was seen within two weeks and saw a mental health practitioner on a weekly basis for six months.

“Having someone to offload to, without any judgment, was just what I needed,” he explained.

“I was struggling with anger issues and could change at the click of a finger. At its least harmful I would scream obscenities at people, including my boss. At its most harmful, I would run people off the road.

“I trusted nobody, couldn’t socialise and hated relying on people. I would be as obnoxious as I could possibly be, and if someone was still willing to help me after that, I recognised they were probably worth opening up to. That’s exactly what happened with H4H and SWVMHS.”

Chris credits SWVMHS for turning his life around.

Chris Jones 2

“Because I had to look after myself for so long, I was not prepared to accept help or have someone telling me there was something wrong. But the beauty about working with H4H and SWVMHS is that, providing you open the door just a fraction, they are there to walk alongside you until the door is fully open and you can see the light on the other side.

“They made me realise what my triggers were and how best to deal with them. I can now socialise happily with other people and can walk into a shop without wanting to leave immediately. Life is much calmer.”

He said the grant from H4H would benefit so many veterans with mental health problems.

“When your mental health is in the place mine was in, life can go horribly wrong very quickly. This grant will enable former soldiers like me to get help as soon as they ask for it. Sometimes, the window of opportunity to get help is so small because your frame of mind can change in an instant. That is why it is crucial to receive help immediately upon seeking it.” 

Army veteran and PTSD sufferer Keith Rossiter-Webb, 53, of Bideford, served with the 2nd Battalion Queen’s Regiment for 13 years doing tours in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Germany, Canada and Kenya. The horrors he saw left a lasting impact and he took 3 attempts on his life.

Keith Rossiter -Webb

He said: “I saw some truly dreadful things. I was also shot at, involved in an explosion and set on fire 3 times. When I returned home, I became very argumentative and depressed and had changed dramatically as a person. Flashbacks and nightmares became regular and I couldn’t see a way out.”

Like Chris, Keith was referred to SWVMHS through H4H and has been supported by the service since January 2015.

“For the first time in a long time I didn’t feel patronised and felt safe and secure to really open up and my family say I’m back to the man I used to be.

“The service is so crucial and this grant will go a long way to changing so many lives like it did mine. Knowing SWVMHS are there, for as long as I need the support, is a huge comfort to me.”

Tim Hollingbery, Clinical Lead at Help for Heroes, said: “Help for Heroes is a charity leading the way in mental health support to members of the Armed Forces community. Many wounded or injured veterans need support with mental health problems and it is vitally important they get that support in a timely and effective manner.

“Help for Heroes have worked with SWVMHS, who are experts in their field in making a difference to psychological wellbeing of the veteran community, for the last two years. This grant funding is an extension of an already positive working relationship and will enable us to better meet the needs of veterans suffering with their mental health.

“The work of SWVMHS compliments Help for Heroes own psychological wellbeing service, Hidden Wounds, by supporting those in need of more complex mental health support, such as for PTSD.”

David Wilcox, Service Lead, at SWVMHS, added: “We are absolutely thrilled that SWVMHS is being supported by Help for Heroes to aid the psychological recovery of those affected by their military service by offering timely access to evidence-based and effective treatment. This funding enables us to employ qualified clinicians with experience of working with the military community to be based in Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset.  This will in turn better enable us to support and empower veterans and their families across the South West to overcome mental health difficulties and we are extremely grateful.”

The Hidden Wounds team can be contacted confidentially by calling 0808 2020 144 (free from UK landlines) weekdays 9am-5pm or via www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support. To contact the SWVMHS, email awp.swveterans@nhs.net or telephone 0300 555 0112.

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Take the waters in support of our Heroes!

Never has there been a more deliciously refreshing way to support our Heroes!

Our first-ever natural mineral water, bottled in the Help for Heroes label, has started rolling off the production line in an exciting new partnership with Hildon Ltd . 

Help for Heroes mineral water 4 

Hildon is passionate about supporting local charities and Help for Heroes is indeed a local neighbour - this premium, British brand is located just 13 miles from Tedworth House, Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Tidworth - with the water being sourced and bottled on the Hildon estate in the Test Valley!

James Burston, Sales and Marketing Director at Hildon, explains why Help for Heroes partnership means so much to the team: "This is the beginning of an important, long term relationship because supporting local charities and good causes is an inherent part of our culture.  We look forward to working on several projects with Help for Heroes that will go beyond a simple per bottle donation." 

Every bottle sold will make a donation to support our Heroes.As well as the glass bottle version for your dining table, we've also launched a sports cap PET bottle - perfect for all runners, trekkers and hard working fundraisers!

Be amongst the first to 'take the waters' by ordering online


H4H Still -Bottle H4H Sports Cap -PET-Bottle H4H-Sparkling -Bottle

 Find out more about our partnership with Hildon here.

Injured veteran finds new dream home thanks to Help for Heroes funding

Stuart Holcroft

A partnership between Help for Heroes and Haig Housing Trust is enabling a wounded veteran to rebuild his life post injury.

Stuart Holcroft, 40, of Richmond, Yorkshire, was injured in a freak pre-deployment training accident in January 2012. The extent of his injuries meant he needed an adaptable home, and thanks to £75,000 of funding from military charity Help for Heroes, this was made possible for him and his family.

Haig Housing Trust (HHT) was established in 2008 to provide individual housing solutions for veterans in need, with priority for those with serious injury, disability or illness. To date, Help for Heroes have provided £2.6million of funding to HHT to help provide specially adapted and appropriate housing for the hundreds of service personnel and veterans in need of rebuilding their lives.

Stuart, a Drone Operator and veteran of several operational tours, was a transferee from the Mercian Regiment to the Royal Artillery. Whilst trying out new individual load carrying equipment in January 2012, Stuart was ordered to carry another similarly equipped soldier in a fireman’s lift. His leg slipped away at a right angle on icy ground, severely damaging his knee ligaments and joint.

The injury led to chronic pain and instability and Stuart, a father-of-two never regained full fitness. He has been in severe pain ever since, which has even affected his relations with his family. In February 2015, he underwent elective amputation of his left leg just above the knee. 

He planned a new career as a civilian drone operator and wanted to settle in the Brompton on Swale area, near Richmond, where his wife’s, Lynne, a veterinary nurse, family come from.

They were keen to buy with an attached garage in case Stuart one day needed to convert this into a ground floor bedroom. In March 2016, funding provided by Help for Heroes saw Stuart and his family complete the purchase of a £267,500 four bedroomed property where the garage had already been converted. Help for Heroes contributed £75,000 towards the property purchase.

Stuart Holcroft 1

Stuart said: “If it weren’t for the help and assistance of Help for Heroes and Haig Housing, I probably wouldn’t have been able to find a suitable place to call home.”

Claire Barnes, Head of Grants, said: “Our task is to help rebuild the lives of our brave men and women so that they are capable of living an independent and fulfilling life. Our partnership with Haig Housing goes a long way to ensuring we can achieve this mission for our very seriously injured, by providing them somewhere appropriate and decent to live.

Brigadier James Richardson, Chief Executive of Haig Housing Trust, has said: ‘Haig Housing Trust are proud to work with Help for Heroes to provide specially adapted homes to wounded veterans and their families. With a generous grant from H4H and shared equity purchase by Stuart we have been able to find and adapt the right home to suit his needs, this home is the basic first step he needs to live a fulfilling life, we wish Stuart and his family every happiness in their new home in North Yorkshire’

“Stories like Stuart’s are just one example of how our fruitful partnership has enabled wounded, injured and sick veterans and service personnel lead a fulfilling life beyond injury.”

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