Change is inevitable but our responsibility remains the same

Over the last few weeks, Emma and I have been visiting Team H4H. We are stepping down from our executive roles but will, of course, remain the Co Founders of this extraordinary charity; you haven't seen the last of us yet I'm afraid!

It's pretty emotional clearing out one's office and preparing to move into a different role but change is inevitable in all our lives and now is the right time to hand over our 'baby'. We know that Team H4H will welcome Mel Waters as my successor and ensure that H4H and our support to 'the blokes' continues for years to come.

People talk about the success of H4H and while it has certainly been an extraordinary nine years, I think that success is the wrong word; I prefer to call it a responsibility that comes with deciding to do something to help.

Carl -shadrake -quote

I believe that if we are to maintain our democratic and peaceful way of life, we have to ask young men and women to volunteer to serve in our Armed Forces, then it is the duty of all of us to help them if they suffer as a consequence. 

That responsibility does not lie just with Government, the MoD or military charities, it lies with every citizen of this country; it is our debt of honour, our national debt. 

Government has a duty of care to our servicemen and women, the Military Covenant prescribes that. The charities however, don't have to exist, there is no law telling us what to do; we do our bit because we want to make a difference. 

We don't have a duty of care, we want to help because we care.

Nine years ago I stood up and made my first speech as the new CEO of H4H and outlined that what we wanted to do was very simple. I explained, rather nervously, that this new charity would do what it could to help 'the blokes'. 

Derek -quote

Nine years later, as Emma and I have visited the team and met some of the blokes, I think we have done that. I would have been pleased if we had fulfilled our responsibility to just one 'bloke', but we've done more than that, we have made a difference to many. 

There can be no better reward in life than to know that you have helped those who need a hand. Equally there is no greater responsibility than knowing that we have really only just begun. This extraordinary support must continue, as Prince Harry said, long after the guns have fallen silent. We must not fail or forget.

Thank you all for the extraordinary support you have given this great cause over the last nine years, it has rebuilt and in many cases, saved lives. I know we leave Team H4H in good hands and I am confident that the support will continue, evolve and endure with your help.

Thank you all

Onwards and Upwards!

Bryn Parry Signature

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Rio Paralympics 2016 | The Closing Ceremony

The final day arrived for the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) and it was straight into the first workshop of the day focused around performing under pressure and controlling the controllable elements in their chosen sporting field.

There was personal input from the athlete mentors Ben Quilter and Rik Waddon on their individual journeys and what worked best for them at major events.

The team then split into small groups where they each had input into their own preferred strategies and components that they felt would benefit their own performance in helping them achieve their goals and targets.

Pip Athletes Final Day

After a short break for lunch it was on to British House and back into one-to-one mode with their allocated mentors to reflect on the week and discuss in depth their experience of the PiP and how it has helped them to think outside the box and put themselves in the mind and shoes of a professional athlete.

The final journey of the day was a short bus ride to the Closing Ceremony.

Closing Ceremony 1

The Closing Ceremony was a chance to really appreciate the enormous global scale of the event that is the Paralympic Games. After five days absorbed in sport, it was the culmination of the Programme before the group travel back to the UK and reflect on their experience. They will come back together in November to present their learnings to each other and discuss their individual plans in order to ensure they have the best chance of reaching their goals over the next few years.

It has been a wonderful experience for the PiP athletes who were provided the unique opportunity to experience the Paralympic Games, and for them to witness ParalympicsGB claim their third highest medal haul in British Paralympic history. 

Closing Ceremony 2

The team will return from Rio with 64 gold medals - the most gold medals and indeed most medals of any British Paralympic team since Seoul 1988.

A series of exceptional performances ensured ParalympicsGB comfortably passed the 121 medal target set by UK Sport, eventually finishing with 64 golds, 39 silvers and 44 bronzes, a total of 147 medals - a result which sees the team finish second in the table behind China.

Closing Ceremony 3

All in all it has been a fabulous two weeks which has equipped the PiP group with the first-hand experience of a Paralympic Games and all that comes with it, here’s to the next four years and Tokyo in 2020!

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PiP athletes learn the importance of performing under pressure

The Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) got the chance to see athletes contending for medals and needing to deliver best performances to win them. Their focus and task for the day was to analyse how athletes perform under pressure, why they do and sometimes don't perform at their best, and who consistently delivers good or great performance when it mattered most – and most importantly understand how they do this.

With that in mind, the group was asked to think about what they needed to do to get these answers. This included thinking about what to watch, who to talk to, and when to take time to think and reflect. Another long day also meant a reminder and reference back to the managing energy module, a very important element to ensuring a positive performance. The athletes were encouraged to make good choices, like a Paralympic athlete or staff member would.

Wheelchair Basketball

At the wheelchair basketball athletes got to experience a packed home crowd when Brazil took on Australia – it was a tight game right the way through culminating in two penalties in the last 20 seconds taking Brazil a point ahead of Australia and securing the win – a true example of performing under pressure with the entire nation watching your every move.

PiP athlete (para-canoe) Nikki Paterson said: “It was awesome to have watched such a competitive game and even better that GB won the bronze. Turkey seemed to perform more consistently throughout the match but GB kept it together and their focus during the overtime period was what won them the match. It was a great example of performing under pressure.”

Archery W1 Women Take Gold , Silver And Bronze

At the archery it was Jess Stretton that held her nerve to show a fantastic performance under pressure to claim Gold in the Individual Compound W1 competition: “I had to try to tell myself to keep calm because I did feel under pressure. I had to trick myself into thinking it was just another shooting session which was quite difficult – but I managed it.”

PiP athlete (archer) Hazel Chaisty said: “Performing under pressure was explained perfectly by Pippa Britton and then displayed incredibly by Vicky Jenkins. An incredible day at the archery watching a British athlete come back from a week in hospital to win Bronze, making it a full-house for the ParalympicsGB W1 female archers.”

Ultimately the day was an opportunity to learn how to be ready to deliver medal winning performances in Tokyo and for any final questions and discussions with the experienced athlete mentors.

Katherine Bond , Phoebe Pine And Hazel Chaisty

Tomorrow the group will come together to discuss their learnings from the previous day as well as have one-to-one sessions with their mentors before a reception at British House, followed by the Closing Ceremony. This will bring together the full size and scale of the Paralympic Games and reinforce the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ module which helps individuals understand what’s involved in order to make the right ‘performance choice’ about their attendance in Tokyo.

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PiP athletes live like Paralympians

Day three and the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) athletes were paid a visit by Minister for Sport, Heritage and Tourism Tracey Crouch, she was keen to find out more about the Programme and the athletes on it. This provided the group an opportunity to engage with a senior political figure, something that is an integral part of being a world-class athlete.

After the privilege of meeting Tracey, the group headed off to the athlete village to experience living as a Paralympian. The group was shown around the accommodation, where the athletes stay throughout Games time as well as eating lunch in the expansive food hall where competitors from all corners of the globe gather en masse for their meals. The food available equally reflects the diversity of the nation’s taking part and it was a good opportunity for the athletes to make some performance choices when faced with temptation.

Pi P Group Outside GBR HQ

After lunch there was a stroll around the Village pointing out the Polyclinic where athletes can access services such as dentistry, opticians, x-rays and minor procedures, if and when needed. The gym facilities are vast and are available for athletes to exercise. After a short bus journey we arrived at British House, upon arriving the athletes were greeted by a warm reception from the ParalympicsGB staff team. The space is used to host nearest and dearest, UK media and other British delegation and VIPs. Here they had the opportunity to speak with their mentors where conversation included topics on classification, anti-doping, accreditation and living as a Paralympian in the village. Following this the group settled down to watch Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett battle it out on court in the final of the men’s singles wheelchair tennis on the big screens.

PiP archer Steve Gill said: “I’ve already taken lots out of the week so far, it’s made me think more about asking for help particularly from athlete mentor Rik “the legend” Waddon who has massively inspired me. The atmosphere was electric at the archery yesterday and I’m looking forward to seeing the swimming tomorrow to experience the atmosphere and feel. We’re very lucky to have this Programme in place, I haven’t ever seen myself as an athlete, but this Programme is helping me understand that I can proudly say I am.”

Steve Gill

Tomorrow athletes will be back experiencing their specific sports in action - where they’ll be encouraged by their mentors to think about performing under pressure. It is the last opportunity for the group to experience the competition environment learning from the best athletes in the world on the largest international stage before they wrap up modules, debrief with mentors, and head to the Closing Ceremony.

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The PiP Athletes spot the difference at this year's Paralympic Games

Up with the larks and off to sport specific competition for the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) athletes. Today was all about understanding the competition environment and pinpointing the things that differ and remain the same at a Paralympic Games.

For the equestrian athletes it was a bus journey to the venue ahead of the Grade II and Grade IA classes and some real medal hopes for ParalympicsGB. Not only did they get the chance to see the Brits dominate in the arena, they also bumped into Lee Pearson, ParalympicsGB flagbearer for the opening ceremony.

Equestrian 2

PiP athlete Emma Douglas said "It was great to get some time with Lee Pearson, we also got to see the mix zone after one of the medal ceremonies and that was really interesting. Overall it's been inspiring and eye-opening and we're really looking forward to the next few days."

It was a great day had by the archers, not only did the athletes get a behind the scenes tour by Archery GB, but also got to head into the field of play to soak up what it would be like to shoot at a major Games.

Archery

The day started with a Q&A session on the bus and filling the out of handbooks, once at the venue the group quickly scurried up to the viewing area as a GB archer was in action and it was simply a great opportunity to get into observation mode and capture the key components of competing at the Paralympics.

Once the match was done and dusted there was time for some conversation with Directors and Sponsors where the group had the opportunity to explain more about the Programme. After networking they got the opportunity to go behind the scenes in a tour of the warm-up and practice area normally strictly off-bounds which was great to see.

The day was top-offed by a once in a life-time opportunity to wheel out on to the field of play for some last minute photographs. On the return journey it was time to reflect on the day, the experience and picking out the different components that take place and what it takes to be a professional athlete.

Next up was the Wheelchair Rugby where Great Britain took on Canada and had the whole crowd, including the PiP wheelchair rugby athletes Stu and Ollie on the edge of their seats as they watched GB loose agonisingly in the three minutes over-time after leading throughout. Despite the loss athletes took a lot away, including closing out pivotal moments in tight games.

The cycling group traversed the coast to Pontal for the hand cycling road races- Andy and Steve joined the Brits in the team area to look at the set up and understand more about what goes on behind the scenes at a Paralympic Games.

Steve Arnold said: “it's been an incredible day! Amazing to see my race but slightly strange not to be competing. It has made me even more determined to be there in four years.”

Rio 2016 Cycling

After spending time in Pontal the group moved onto swimming on the Olympic Park- it has been fantastic to watch the teams work together and share their experiences of their sports with their PIP teammates.

Elsewhere military athlete Nick Beighton took Bronze in the KL2 Final – the 34-year-old getting on the podium four years after finishing fourth in the sport of rowing at London 2012.

Tomorrow sees the group visit the athlete village and British House – opportunity to understand the environment in which athletes live during Games-time and also the chance to visit the purpose-built facility for UK media and friends and family.

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