Saturday, 26th December 2009

H4H Christmas Message ~ Itís been quite a year !!

Itís been quite a year, has 2009. Help for Heroes, far from fading, has gathered pace and our volunteer fundraisers have brought in over £20m since The Millies on 15 December 2008.


As well as MSMAS hundreds of ordinary, decent people have been inspired to do something to help the wounded, Ďour blokesí, and millions more is coming in.

The money that comes in is also going out and we have seen millions spent or allocated to provide direct, practical support to our wounded heroes. The first Recovery Centre was opened in Edinburgh in August 2009 and the Rehabilitation Complex at Headley Court will open in Spring 2010, to be followed shortly afterwards by the extension to Combat Stress. We will be announcing our plans for 2010 in the New Year and our foot is pressed firmly to the floor.

Help for Heroes began with a focus on our blokes, the men and women of our Armed Forces, and it will continue to do so. They are the reason we are doing this; we feel helpless when they go to war, we feel desperate when they are hurt but together we are helping them get better; it really is all about the blokes.
Derek, the first double amputee we met at Selly Oak hospital in the summer of 2007, is now ranked fifth in the world at adaptive Shot Put. Arthur has learnt to fly and will become a Flying Instructor, even if he canít walk. Craig climbed Kilimanjaro but could not enjoy the view, as he is blind. His sport is football, he is in the England squad and he is a property developer, hanging his own wallpaper with the help of a speaking spirit level. Marty is Captain of the Combined Services Downhill Disabled Ski Team. Ben, Prince Harryís Hero, has done his marathon and climbed to Everest Base Camp. Frenchie climbed Kili despite a spine injury that means he canít feel his lower legs but now he says he can stand alongside any fully able person in terms of achievement; and he really can.

These young men and women are wounded but they are fighting back, they are inspirational. It is all about the blokes but it is also about YOU. All across the country, people are rising to the challenge to Ďdo their bití to help. They are inspired by the blokes and they are becoming inspirations to others. Lydia swam her mile with no legs; Jessica trekked across the Sahara and then read a poem from Stephen, her badly injured, brain damaged son, when she reached the top of the highest sand dune.

Ordinary, decent people; not heroes, not athletes, just people who want to make a difference and are prepared to put themselves out to do so. They donít want to go to war but they are prepared to work their socks off for those who do and that is wonderful.

Itís not just those who undertake fundraising challenges or events who are working their socks off; our Volunteers are amazing. We have over 140 volunteers spread across the country who are collecting cheques, coordinating events, representing H4H and doing it voluntarily. The hours some of them put in is remarkable, the dedication is humbling, they too are truly inspirational and deserve our thanks.
Then there are the H4H staff at Downton, Landford and Tidworth, an organisation that has grown incredibly fast but still has the same passion and drive as the original team who started in The Tin Hut in Tidworth on 1 October 2007. We have people who turned up on day one to make coffee and who are now running teams, rising to the daily challenge with determination and a big smile; you too are wonderful.
We say that no one ever leaves H4H but obviously people have moved on, getting back to normality after an intense period, possibly the most intense period of their lives. They may not be involved on a day to day basis anymore but they are still part of what makes H4H so special and we owe them our thanks.
Finally and probably most importantly, we need to pay tribute to the medical teams, the people who get the wounded out of contact, patch them up, fly them home, get them on to their new legs, get them going again, give them hope; thank you all for everything you do.

We are a huge team, spread across the country but united in our determination to do our bit. We are all linked, joined together in a desire to make things better for some badly hurt blokes and this is working and it is wonderful.

So, as a remarkable year comes to an end and you go home for Christmas, think of this. Our young men and women are out in Helmand, or they are lying in their beds at Selly Oak or they are learning to walk again at Headley Court. Some of them are coming home and getting to grips with the adjustment, the reality of having had friends killed and wounded. Some of them are getting ready to go out and they know what they may have to face. They are the reason we are doing this, we think they are pretty special and we want to help them; simple. That desire to help, and the way in which we are united in trying to do so, that is really special, it is wonderful and you are part of it; Thank you.

Have a wonderful Christmas and then come back in the New Year and lets do it again next year, lets do it for the blokes.

Thank you all for everything you have done in 2009.


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