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One of our veteran ambassadors will be treading the red carpet when he attends the Charity Film Awards, at the Odeon Luxe, Leicester Square, on 22 March.

Derek Derenalagi and his wife Ana, who live in Bushey, will be present as our film, which tells the story of Derek’s recovery, goes up for an award in the category for charities turning over between £20m and £50m annually.

The fifth Charity Film Awards, organised by the Smiley Corporation, is the world’s largest film-for-good campaign and has been created to celebrate the success of film in fundraising, to increase exposure of charity films and to encourage donations for good causes. With the increasing reach of social media and lower production costs, film and video content are now considered key components in many charities’ marketing tool kit.

Derek and Ana pose proudly in their Help for Heroes apparel
Derek and Ana pose proudly in their Help for Heroes apparel

Derek’s film, 'Strength is Standing on My Own Two Feet Again', was released as part of our Strong Made Stronger campaign, and is on a shortlist of 10, which includes such organisations as the Alzheimer’s Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Refuge, and the British Diabetic Association.

It tells the story of how double amputee Derek, and Ana, learned to adapt and overcome many challenges, with our support, after he lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, in 2007.

In the film, Fiji-born Derek, who was serving with the Worcestershire Sherwood Foresters Regiment when he was injured, is shown in conversation with Ana and explains: “What really did hit me hard was, when I did ask you if I can go to the toilet, and you said, “no you can’t”.

“I tried to hold back my tears; I tried to be strong, not to show the vulnerable person inside. I knew, for sure, my time in the Army, the career that I loved, would come to an end, and it was devastating.”

But Ana reminds him: “You began to discover you had sporting potential, there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

His recovery journey has seen him take part in the 2012 Paralympic Games and win a gold medal in the discus (F57/58) at the 2012 IPC Athletics European Championships, in Stadskanaal, Netherlands. It has also launched a career as an inspirational speaker, talking about overcoming adversity and achieving goals.

It is a poignant yet heart-warming story of a man whose life could have been destroyed doing what he had always wanted to, but, instead, becomes a tale of inspiration and recovery. And Derek is overwhelmed that it has been shortlisted for an award.

He said: “Both Ana and I are just so humbled by the story making it into the final. We are very grateful that the public voted for our story to get this far – whether we win or not. I believe it represents all those who have served, because our story is not that different from stories of others, especially those who have been through something similar in the front line in recent conflicts. It’s our story, but I believe it represents them all.

“We certainly weren't expecting to be shortlisted and to be attending the event at Leicester Square. We’re so grateful and humbled by it. We are really looking forward to the occasion, though. There are some extraordinary stories in the films. But fingers crossed for Help for Heroes that it wins.”

Help for Heroes’ chief advocacy ambassador, Mark Elliott, said: “Since the very start of the Charity, both Derek and Ana have been an inspiration to us and the nation. We hope they have a great evening whether we win or not. They were so generous with their time when we made the film and are great supporters of the Charity.”

To view Derek and Ana’s film – and to vote – visit smileymovement.org/category/2022/6.

Discover how you can help Derek and hundreds like him