Putting the fun in fundraising. When it comes to finding different ways to support our Armed Forces community, volunteers Karen and Mark Locke have an idea or two.
Despite working full-time, the pair run our All-Star Ice Hockey team, and have raised thousands of pounds for our Armed Forces at their annual ice hockey weekend.
Mark told us: “The UK Charity All Star Weekend brings ice hockey fans together to raise money for some fantastic charities, including Help for Heroes. We have no military connection, but volunteering is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to veterans and their families.”
The couple also lend a hand at other Armed Forces sporting events throughout the year.
“This will be our third year running the UK Armed Forces Ice Hockey Championship. We'll be there having fun whilst raising funds for the Charity,” says Mark.
It doesn't stop at ice hockey
“Last year we also jumped at the chance to volunteer at Help for Heroes’ Sport Series event. I’m not normally an emotional person but I found it very moving.
“We were helping at the rowing competition. One of the competitors believed ‘you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it’. That mentality drives a hunger in us to keep doing what we’re doing."
“Meeting veterans at all these events has made a lasting impact. Some tell me they signed up for a job, but the mental and physical effects on service personnel and their families can be devastating.
“I'm also blown away by the public’s generosity. People tell us about their family or friends who are in the Armed Forces, and how they want to give back in honour of those who have served to keep us safe.”
"Volunteering has increased my confidence"
Karen added: “I’m a shy person but volunteering has increased my confidence and challenged me to do new things. We help at the Charity’s Tesco collection weekend; I’ve done a skydive and we’ve fundraised at James Blunt concerts across the UK."
“We also fundraise at a 1940s weekend. My Dad always loved going for the music, so it’s very special to me.
“Dad wanted to see what Mark and I got up to whilst volunteering, which led to him joining in too. Unfortunately, he became ill a couple of years ago and passed away."
“It knocked us, and we didn't want to volunteer for a while. But then I found a book. Inside, Dad had listed all the fundraising events he wanted to do – I intend to complete them in his honour, all in support of our Armed Forces community.”