What we do / Our Stories / Mark E


Categories: Our Team - Stronger Together


In 2007, Derek lost both his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. Shortly afterwards, he met Mark  – our Chief Advocacy Ambassador who has been with Help for Heroes since day one. Since then, Mark’s witnessed how the Charity has helped Derek battle back and achieve the unimaginable.

“Back in 2007, the experiences of Derek and others like him inspired us to set up Help for Heroes. It wasn’t long after we launched that I first met him – Derek had lost both his legs in Afghanistan and was being treated in hospital. When we visited, he was lying in bed, his wife, Ana, stood by his side – which is where she's remained.

“Derek has an incredible inner strength that you see in many of our wounded. He’s a man of deep faith and an incredibly positive individual - I suspect this was the case even before his injury. Having been told he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, Derek was determined to overcome his injury - a year later, he stood for the first time. To enable this incredible progress to continue we funded his prosthetic legs, which eventually led to him representing Great Britain at the Paralympics.

“When many of our wounded are injured, they focus on the things they can no longer do then find ways to achieve them - Derek did just that. He was a phenomenal rugby player, but his injury meant he’d never be able to play rugby in the same way again. Despite this, he used his knowledge of rugby and love of sport to face the difficulties he suffered.

“When we held the rugby matches at Twickenham, Derek spoke to some of the England greats about his life – which deeply inspired them. In turn, that experience helped Derek. Then, through our sports recovery programmes Derek learnt new ways to participate in sport, which gave him the drive to overcome his day-to-day challenges.

“Witnessing Derek find the strength to confront his injuries makes me feel so proud. Not just of him, but of everything that Help for Heroes, our volunteers and supporters have done and continue to do for our wounded.

“Their support has allowed Derek and over 26,500 wounded and their families achieve the impossible. Whether physical or mental, the strength our wounded demonstrate to overcome their challenges is truly inspirational.

“When I first met Derek, he’d just lost both his legs. A few years later he was competing at the Paralympics - that’s extraordinary. It’s vital we enable all our wounded to find the strength they need to achieve their own extraordinary.”               

“To achieve this, it’s crucial we adapt our services to the current situation - which is very different from the days of Afghanistan and Iraq, and also differs to a time pre-pandemic. With this in mind, we have moved away from a recovery centre offering and are providing community-based support; taking our services directly to our wounded, whether in their homes or their local communities.

“I hope to be here in another 13 years, waking up every morning to help our wounded and see them discovering the strength they need to overcome their daily battles.”  

Find out more about Derek.


Sign up to our monthly newsletter to find out how you can #GiveStrength to wounded veterans like Derek.


Explore more stories