Seventy five years ago my grandfather was captured just before the fall of Singapore and a few months later my father was wounded during the retreat across Burma. They both survived the war, albeit with physical and mental scars, but thousands did not, they gave their todays so that we could have our tomorrow.
Next week Emma and I will be joining an H4H fundraising bike ride though Thailand and into Burma (Myanmar) and many of the cyclists will be riding in memory of relatives who fought with the 'Forgotten Army'. We will be cycling alongside others who have had their lives changed in the more recent conflicts; they too have given so much on our behalf but they now ride to give back to their mates.
I am proud of all those who have served, including my relatives; they are my heroes and they deserve our thanks and respect. We will remember them.
I am also very proud of those who support and that means you. 2016 is marching on but there are many exciting events happening in the year. Not only will our celebrity Ambassador, Jodie Kidd, be joining us for the Burma Bike Ride (part of her Challenge Kiddo fundraiser) but our number of 'Payroll Givers' across the UK is on the increase. It is extraordinary and wonderful that so many people want to 'do their bit' to help our heroes. Ordinary decent people, civilians who do not wear uniform but still make a huge difference to our country. Your donations demonstrate that you care and the funds you raise help rebuild lives; you too are heroes.
There is much in the press about charities. People quite rightly want reassurance that their hard earned donations are being used correctly. I can assure you that they are; we don't use chuggers or bombard vulnerable people asking for money. We prefer to get on with our job, properly structured and governed but we ask simply that if you are as proud of our Servicemen and women as we are that you help us support them.
The best form of assurance is to hear from 'the blokes' themselves. They tell us how we help and if they tell us we've got it wrong, we listen and review; we want to do our best for them. That's why we are here. Mikey Hall, one of our beneficiaries, says, “We’re still injured and we’ll always be injured and we still need support. There are loads of people in my situation and H4H is going to save them. It’s like being back in the regiment, with the banter and everything, and you feel normal. Civvies don’t understand some of the things we’re going through.
“Ring Help for Heroes up and get down to your nearest Recovery Centre and get involved. You will never ever regret it.”
We work in partnership with the Services themselves. They appreciate and need our support. The General commanding the Field Army said "H4H emerged in our hour of need and we love them for it. And they are staying the distance with investment in the H4H Recovery Centres, and again we love them for this. H4H deliver a national network of support that we could not do without, and that they have been a light in dark places for many of our injured as they re-build their lives."
We don't go begging for funds, that's not our style, we would not insult you. Instead, we tell you what we need to do to support those who have served and you respond; you do your bit. The war is no longer on our televisions, the coffins no longer come back through Royal Wootton Bassett but the need is there and will continue for years to come.
Help for Heroes is committed to help those who have been affected by service for as long as we are needed. We will do that as best we can and, when we are able to help one of 'the blokes' rebuild his or her life, we feel proud; so should you, you have helped.
Thank you for supporting Help for Heroes, you are needed, you are valued and you are making a difference.
Onwards and Upwards
I would like to highlight the milestones we are achieving this year for those we are supporting:
Sunday 7 February 2016Help for Heroes is appalled by the attack
Monday 22 February 2016A Scottish veteran whose injuries drastically deteriorated
Big or small, every donation makes a difference to our wounded Servicemen and women and their loved ones.