This week Jaguar Land Rover have handed over a brand new Discovery 4 for two Help for Heroes beneficiaries to take part in the H4H rally, which has raised £980,000 since 2010 and is hopes to reach £1m this year.
Two soldiers with life changing injuries have teamed up for this year’s 4x4 European Rally challenge to raise vital funds and give something back to Help for Heroes (H4H).
The ‘off-roading’ rally is organised by Keith Bowen and his son, Tim Price-Bowen. It sets off on 13 June 2015, covering a staggering 2000 miles through Europe following the path of the WW2 Allied Invasion.
This year’s event, ‘The Final Mission’, which will be taken on by 45 teams each with one 4x4 vehicle, has a specific goal of passing the £1 million fundraising milestone for H4H since the inaugural rally in 2010.Brendan Prudom, and Curtis Pugh, served together in the Royal Tank Regiment when tragically their Army careers got cut short due to injury. Both have been aided through their road to recovery by Help for Heroes and are now H4H Band of Brother fellowship members with the charity.
In 2013, 25 year old Brendan Prudom, from Abergavenny sustained an injury which ruptured four of his spinal discs resulting a diagnosis of Cauda Equina. He spent eight weeks in hospital enduring several operations none of which proved to be a full cure.
Brendan said: “I’ll be medically discharged on 24 July 2015 because I can’t physically cope with the demands of Army life. Sometimes I struggle to walk - one day while walking in Cardiff Bay with my girlfriend, my legs gave way and a crowd gathered because they thought I was proposing to my girlfriend. All I can do is take each day as it comes and get on with life as best as I can.
"Losing my career was devastating, but I have recently been accepted onto a Civil Engineering degree programme at Swansea University, so life is starting to look up. I’m so grateful to Help for Heroes and to Jaguar Land Rover for giving me something to look forward to and for supporting those like me who are having to come to terms with losing the future they had set out for themselves. I’ve done a bit of off-roading before and own a Land Rover, so for me this is the challenge of a lifetime!”Having been selected from a large number of applicants, Brendan and Curtis will be the very first team in the rally’s six year history made up entirely of the charity’s beneficiaries. They will be fundraising for H4H while getting ready for the event, supported by Jaguar Land Rover, which sets off on 13 June 2015 from North Wiltshire.
Les Ratcliffe, Head of Community Relations at Jaguar Land Rover commented: "We are delighted to support the Help for Heroes 4x4 European Rally for a sixth year to help the wounded and their families. Best of luck to our Band of Brothers team, Brendan and Curtis, as they prepare for this challenging event and continue on their journey to recovery. It's been great to meet them to hear about their personal experiences. Today's Land Rover Experience off-road driver training will ensure they get the most out of the Discovery 4's outstanding capabilities during their adventure."
The first rally took place in 2010 with the aim of taking 20 vehicles across Europe and raising £20,000 for the charity. In fact, the organisers were overwhelmed with the interest shown; the rally set off with 45 cars and raised a staggering £122,000! Such was the success of the event that they ran the rally again in 2011 and it has since continued to become an annual affair. An incredible £900,000 has been raised by the rally participants to date.
In 2012 Curtis suffered a similar injury, rupturing a disc in his lower back whilst training for Afghanistan. He tried many things to fix it, including physiotherapy and acupuncture, all of which only made the pain worse and reluctantly he had to leave the Army in 2014 because the pain would not subside.
Curtis Pugh, 21, from Birmingham, England said: “Soldiers will continue to get hurt, whether on the battlefield or in training and everyone has unique injuries. We want to raise as much money on this rally as possible to make sure that Help for Heroes is able to offer their support to many who will need it for years to come.”
“Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Help for Heroes for supporting me after being medically discharged. The charity helped me find a job to pay my bills, which took a great deal of stress off my shoulders. It’s also quite unbelievable how big companies pitch in to help wounded soldiers. When I heard that Land Rover were donating a car to the rally for us to use, I thought it’d just be a beaten up Defender; I had no idea that they’d donate a brand new Discovery 4. When we go to pick it up on 4 June, it’ll feel like Christmas!”
The Band of Brothers car, as well every other team, will have a Skytag tracker fitted – allowing live tracking of their whereabouts during the journey - http://www.h4hrally.co.uk/livetracking/