I remember hearing that if Christmas didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it. We need to mark an end to one year before we start on the next; we need to pause, have a breather and then crack on.
The last couple of weeks before the Christmas break are always pretty frantic as everyone tries to finish their list of things to do, at the same time as cram in the office party, think about buying presents and catch up with all the friends and ‘rellies'. It’s a lot to pack into a short space and it’s no wonder so many people get the dreaded Christmas flu. Then finally, we all go home, eat too much, make our New Year’s resolutions and re-emerge, blinking sleepily from hibernation, and plough on.
2014 was the year that our Armed Forces left Camp Bastion and came home in time for Christmas. I say Camp Bastion rather than Afghanistan as of course we do still have a number of our boys and girls deployed there, as do we in so many places around the world. They will be on duty while we tuck into our Christmas dinners. They will be watching the skies, sailing the seas and helping out where ever they are sent; they serve us.
Someone asked me to look into my crystal ball earlier this year and asked what I thought H4H’s role would be “post conflict”. I think that the question should be rephrased to what our role will be “inter conflict”. It’s only a matter of time before our Servicemen and women are once more engaged in some conflict on our behalf. When they are, which they inevitably will be, our role will be to help support them, as it is now. In the meantime, it is our duty to do our best to support those who have been injured to date and to ensure that they continue to get the very best care for as long as they need it.
Help for Heroes has been an extraordinary demonstration of support. Ordinary, decent people deciding to do their bit to show those who serve us that we care. Over seven years, together with our partners, we have built a network of support that must endure, it must not fade away. We simply can not allow that to happen.
2014 has been an extraordinary year of reflection as we have remembered the losses of 1914, symbolised in the extraordinary blood red river of poppies that filled the moat of the Tower of London. In the same year as we solemnly remembered the dead of that World War, we cheered on survivors of the current conflicts as they took part in the inspirational Invictus Games. The competitors showed what can be achieved with the right attitude and the spectators demonstrated their support. We need to keep that going and to do it an a way that will endure; they deserve that.
It is a huge privilege to work at Help for Heroes and to be able to do a small bit for 'the blokes’ who have done so much for us.
Thank you everybody who has made and continues to make, H4H what it is; we need you and appreciate you all.
Those of you who can, have a peaceful Christmas and a very happy New Year… and then let’s get up and do it again!
Onwards and Upwards!