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Celebrity Charity Football Match

Gary 'Gazza' Kirton is hosting the annual Charity Celebrity Football Match to raise valuable funds for Help for Heroes and The Pilgrims Hospice

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The Home team, managed by Razor Ruddock and Gary, will host players from the world of football and music, with Irish music star Brian McFadden taking on the role of Captain. The newest recruit to the team by Ruddock is lovable clown Jimmy Bullard, who stole the hearts of the nation on the most recent series of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

On the opposing side, the ALL STARS team will field a team of players from all side of UK football, including Kevin Horlock, Kem Izzet, and Stuart Nethercott, all managed by ex-Chelsea player Micky Hazzard.

After tasting defeat at last year's event, the ALL STARS team are gunning to come out on top this year, and both teams will be cheered on by the official Crystal Palace Cheerleaders, who will bring excitement, colour and entertainment to the competion.

For futher information on the event, which takes place on Sunday 7th June at The Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone, or click here to make a donation.

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Two veterans, two conflicts, one shared problem

Thanks to Hidden Wounds, a new psychological wellbeing service from military charity Help for Heroes, there is hope on the horizon for Veterans and military families living with everyday mental health problems.

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Nigel Lihou, 59, of Pewsey, was serving in Northern Ireland when he survived a grenade that exploded just metres from him. He went on to witness one of the most infamous bombings of The Troubles, which left a lasting impact.

For Alex Ford, 45, of Shropshire, his mental health problems were revealed through feelings of failure after taking redundancy from the RAF in 2012 to look after his family. He feared he’d let everybody down during his six month tour of Helmand in 2011.

Read the whole article on the Huffington Post here

To find out more about Hidden Wounds, go to www.helpforheroes.org.uk/hidden-wounds, telephone 01980 844300 or email hidden.wounds@helpforheroes.org.uk 

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'Soldier On' Winter Sports Camp provides beneficiaries opportunity in grass roots sport

In February, a group of Help for Heroes beneficiaries were invited out to Whistler, Canada to try out a series of winter sports, as part of the charity’s extensive Sports Recovery programme.

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One of the athletes, Simon Grayson, arrived at the Whistler Athlete village, the same accommodation used for atheletes at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Simon recalls some of the activities were "harder than others." He described sledge hockey as difficult, "...but turning was even harder, especially when things started hotting up and we were all trying to knock each other over. On our second exposure to sledge hockey we spent almost three hours solid on the ice, my body didn’t thank me the next day."

However, taking part in the activities wasn't necessarily the real challenge, explains H4H National Sports Recovery Manager, Louise Watson: "Often the personal challenges associated with the event, such as social interaction or being out in public, were much larger. The safe environment that these camps provided, where there was a common bond and understanding, is so valuable, as it gives the confidence and reassurance to help progress in their recovery."

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Indeed, this very statement was reflected in the way Simon interacted with the other people on the camp. Simon's reflection on looking at the people he was with and remarking a noticable difference in people's stature: "We had all grown in a metaphorical sense, people who had struggled to make eye contact on day one were now actively engaging with one another. From a personal point of view I felt stronger in myself than I could remember. I felt happy, relaxed and proud of who I am.

"Since landing back home - and on reflection - I have had a truly amazing time, I’ve made some fantastic friends and have so many fond memories for what has been the trip of a lifetime. To everybody who funded the trip, facilitated it and took part in it, I thank you."

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The Soldier On programme was founded in 2007 as a joint initiative between the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), who help organise this winter programme in Whistler
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Former RAF Paramedic overcomes demons to secure a place at University

Karen Burrows is a former RAF Paramedic. Whilst on duty she suffered a severe spinal injury but, after receiving support from Help for Heroes, has found herself on the placement list at Cumbria University.

Karen will start her BSc (Hons) University course in Occupational Therapy in September, after finally passing her Maths GCSE thanks to help from Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House.

Karen has been an RAF Paramedic for 20 years and served in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan before being injured in Helmand, November 2007. Her spinal injury forced her into a wheelchair. She was later battled with complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. After numerous spinal operations and years of physical rehabilitation, she was eventually medically discharged in 2011 and first approached Help for Heroes in 2012.

“Once I was medically discharged, after feeling isolated alongside the constant physical pain and nightmares, I quickly came to the realisation that I needed help,” she said. “I didn't leave my house in months and my injuries, traumas and pain were all I had in my life.

“I decided I didn't want to exist anymore and not finding help from anywhere else, I called Tedworth House in complete crisis and that call saved my life.

“I needed to find a new purpose in life, one to feel proud of again and make a difference to others once more.”

Karen knew one day she would need a new profession but after leaving school with no Maths qualification, it was a big difficulty to overcome.

“There was one last hurdle to jump over first – numbers,” she explained.

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“I always struggled with Mathematics at school but managed to get by with the 'basics' required for serving. This was something I had to get over once and for all.”

Karen said she owed her success to Steve Burrows, Functional Skills Tutor at Tedworth House, who tutored her to pass the exam.

“I served 20 years in the military but learning Maths all over again and sitting the exam was the scariest thing I have ever confronted,” she added. “I would rather get back on the frontline than be faced with a page of numbers,” she said.

“I felt ashamed of my inability to work with numbers at my age, but Steve was somebody who finally made me relax and realise it was possible to succeed in Maths. He was so patient and without his unique teaching skills I would not be starting this exciting new chapter in my life.”

Karen said a huge weight has been lifted off her shoulders after passing the exam and cannot wait to start her course at Cumbria University, where she will be moving with her Canine Partner, Parker. Her end goal is to work with veterans to help them cope with the same traumas, both physically and psychologically, that she has dealt with since her injury.

“I have so much to give back,” she said. “I have picked up injured and dying guys from the front line so to work alongside them as an Occupational Therapist would bring me back full circle.

“My injuries do not define me completely anymore. I have now been able to draw a line in the sand and I've taken the biggest step to get over it and I'm attempting to leave the loss and traumas behind me.

“I can now see a light at the end of the tunnel I've been stuck in for a long time and a happy ending is in sight at long last.”

Giles Woodhouse, Centre Manager at Tedworth House, said everyone involved with Help for Heroes were extremely proud of Karen and wished her well for her university course.

“Leaving the military and finding a new direction can be daunting especially for those who are living with life-changing injuries and illnesses, but H4H recognises that they remain highly skilled and capable individuals with a huge amount to contribute to society,” he said.

“We aim to inspire and enable those who have made sacrifices on our behalf to achieve their full potential. This has clearly been achieved with Karen who has fought a personal battle for many years and now has a very positive future ahead of her.”

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Chelsea Pensioners inspire young wounded Paras

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Nine Chelsea Pensioners visited the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester, Chavasse VC House on Wednesday 15 April, to see for themselves how the charity is supporting wounded, injured and sick men and women of the armed forces and to share their stories with the younger serving personnel who are due to be medically discharged.

The visit highlighted how war and the injuries that our men and women sustain from service have a long term consequence. Our recently wounded veterans have many years ahead of them which mean their future needs are great. The Chelsea Pensioners were, however, able to will give the younger generation inspiration and hope for the future.

The scarlet clad veterans met Marty Wilson and Mick Macfadyen, both veterans of 2 PARA Regiment, who were injured during service. Marty, 42, a former Colour Sargeant, was injured in action whilst on tour in Helmond Province. He was shot in the head, leaving Marty’s left temporal lobe badly damaged which meant he could not speak, read or write. After spending one and half years at Headley Court, a further two years at the Colchester Recovery Centre, many sessions with a speech consultant and numerous recovery courses, Marty made a great recovery. Communication is still an everyday challenge and Marty admits he still has to work very hard to find the right words to say. Marty regular uses the Centre for various activities such as the monthly skiing classes, which are part of the Help for Heroes Sports Recovery sessions.

 

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Marty and Mick, who was injured whilst on exercise during a parachute jump, talked at length with Chelsea Pensioner John McNaughton, 81, who served in the 3rd Battallion the Parachute Regiment and had completed 22 years’ service.

John said, “This Centre is fantastic, fantastic…I cannot say it enough. When I was discharged there was nothing like this. I went from being a soldier to being on the scrap heap. Thank goodness we have this facility.”

The weather was perfect for the veterans to swap stories about their many operations in the award-winning Chelsea Flower Show garden, Hope on the Horizon, which won the People’s Choice award during last years’ iconic flower show. For some of the pensioners this was the second time they had seen the garden which was designed to represent the recovery journey of our wounded service personnel. After a spot of lunch the group then took part in a friendly pitch and putt session on the Centre’s new putting green with Chelsea Pensioner Marjorie Cole getting a hole in one!

Chavasse VC House is one of four Help for Heroes run Recovery Centres and was officially opened in May 2012. It has 27 single bedrooms and two family rooms allowing for families to stay for respite if and when needed. The Centre also houses a Support Hub enabling access to a wide range of welfare support. It is available for those who have suffered life-changing injuries and illness while serving our country as well for their families whenever they need it, for life.

Click here to find out how our Recovery Centres could help you or a loved one.