It started with a swimming pool

When Bryn and Emma Parry heard in 2007 that people were shouting at wounded veterans in Leatherhead swimming pool, they knew they had to do something.

Without dedicated facilities, veterans were using the public swimming pool near Headley Court Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey, at a time when they felt most vulnerable.

So, Bryn, a former Royal Green Jacket and eminent cartoonist, and his wife Emma started a movement. Their movement harnessed the spirit and kindness of the Great British people and changed the way we see and support our veterans and their loved ones.

They began by tackling the issue of the swimming pool. Bryn and Emma wanted to create a space, designed for veterans, where they could swim and recover in peace and privacy. With the help of The Sun newspaper, they launched a campaign to raise funds for a pool at Headley Court. Help for Heroes was born.

Bryn and Emma Parry - Help for Heroes

With UK Forces involved in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need to support our veterans had never been more visible or raw. The Great British Public wanted to help. Within a month Bryn and Emma’s campaign had raised over £507,000. Two months later, this figure stood at £2,188,000.

As the campaign grew, people across the country threw themselves into fundraising, wanting to give our veterans the vital support and facilities they needed. From Kensington Palace and Fleet Street to local communities and family homes, the upswell of love and support for our veterans was there for all to see.

 A story of extraordinary people

Our story is one of extraordinary people. Our veterans and their families, our founders Bryn and Emma, our incredible supporters, volunteers and fundraisers. Together they have changed the lives of people who have served our country.

These extraordinary people have undertaken challenges, given their time and energy and galvanised communities to raise funds and change lives for the better. Their compassion and determination to do the right thing for our veterans is the bedrock of our Charity. This spirit is as strong today as it was when Bryn and Emma launched their campaign to build a swimming pool.

People do remarkable things

From day one, people have done remarkable things for our veterans and their families.

Take Major Phil Packer who was named Fundraiser of the Year at the 2009 Pride of Britain Awards. Phil raised £1.2 million by rowing the Channel, skydiving with the Red Devils, water skiing, walking the London Marathon, and climbing a 1,800 ft peak in California’s Yosemite National Park. All this despite being told he would never walk again.

Over the years we’ve seen fundraising songs hit number one in the UK charts. Our veterans have rubbed shoulders with Princes and pop stars. There have been polo, rugby and football matches to raise vital funds.

In 2022, we celebrated the achievements of the 155 veterans and supporters who took part in our annual Big Battlefield Bike ride, cycling 350 miles and raising funds to support our veterans and their families along the way.

Every day, people show their support and kindness. From hosting cake sales, undertaking sporting challenges and giving their time and energy to volunteer. Thanks to people doing remarkable things, we’re still helping veterans live well after service, some 15 years after Bryn and Emma launched their campaign.

Our charity today

Since the swimming pool at Headley Court was built, our mission has grown and evolved to meet the ongoing needs of those who have served our country.

We support veterans and their families in their homes and communities across the UK. We help people improve their physical and mental health. We consider each individual and make sure the support we give is tailored to them. This may be counselling, funding equipment, helping people manage their health conditions and navigating support systems, welfare support, joining physical activities, wellbeing support, joining social activities, self guided help or signposting. All this is possible thanks to extraordinary people doing remarkable things.