In October, Help for Heroes will be eight years old. A newcomer to the world of military charities but to some of us a lifetime seems to have passed since we opened for business in the Tin Hut in Tidworth and the phones began to ring.
We asked people to help us help our heroes; the men and women injured in the line of duty. The response was overwhelming.
Over the years we have listened to their stories and we have played our small part in helping them rebuild their lives. It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to act as a conduit for the country's outpouring of support. We take our job very seriously; we understand that recovery is extremely complex and our support has to be tailored to suit each individual.
We are also extremely aware that our support must endure. We volunteered to do our bit to help back in 2007, not knowing what the future held, but we now have a responsibility to ensure our support continues for as long as it is needed.
In 2008 Emma and I met a young man in a wheelchair. He was a Royal Marine but his life had been changed forever. He faced an uncertain future, knowing that he would never walk again, nor do the job he loved. Help for Heroes has been able to play a small part in helping that young man rebuild his life and, frankly, we could not be more proud of him now.
That young former Royal Marine is Arthur Williams and last night we watched him present his latest programme on Channel 4, Flying to the Ends of the Earth. It is an extraordinarily good series, delivered with intelligence, humour and empathy. I urge you to watch it. I don’t know what Arthur would have gone on to achieve if he had not been injured but I do know that what he is achieving now is remarkable.
A charity like H4H is only as good as its people and its supporters, united in a common cause. We have responded to the needs of ‘our blokes’ and are now a different organisation to what we were when we decided ‘to just do something to help’. We have matured, learnt a great deal and are still learning. We have faced challenges and we will continue to face them as we go forward, always doing our best to deliver what we say on the tin.
Sometimes we may need an injection of energy to help us keep battling. This is not easy but it is important. On those days when we might feel a bit bashed or fazed by the huge weight of responsibility we carry, we need a boost. Last night, that boost was delivered by Arthur Williams and his grin of delight as he speared a big red fish off the coast of Australia… ‘Hoofing!’
What a bloke! We are proud of you Arthur, great job!
Read more about Arthur's journey here: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-08-10/arthur-williams-we-must-not-forget-the-wounded-soldiers-of-britain