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    News

    TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY

    TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY

    Gus Mclean served in the Royal Scots for 3 years – with tours in the first Gulf war and in Ireland, before transferring to the Corps of Army music where he played the flute. He took the decision to leave the army in 1996 for a career change into welding which he did for many years before the impact of his army years saw him suffer a breakdown.

    In 2014 Gus found Help for Heroes and a love of doing arts and crafts which he says, ‘’helped me get to a better place mentally and gives me a better outlook for the future’’. ‘’Art helps me with my concentration. It makes things so simple, you don’t get anything wrong, even if you don’t like it at the end. It’s like the time you spend not thinking about your problems it just helps towards your recovery, it gives you a break from your anxiety’’.

    Gus has designed a fantastic range of clothing for our AW19 collection. The premium Triumph range has taken patriotic influences and mixed this with two helping hands into an embroidered emblem across the collection. The stand- out ‘Old School Tattoo’ T-Shirt is inspired by Gus’ tattoo style art and incorporating Helping for Heroes into a scroll effect. Gus says,’’ The fact that my design is going to raise money for Help for Heroes is brilliant.’’

    ‘Your money is doing more than you can imagine, helping family's get back on their feet - to some kind of normality. It’s something to be proud of’’. Gus Mclean, Veteran

    SHOP THE TRIUMPH COLLECTION >

     

    The stand-out ‘Old School Tattoo’ T-Shirt is inspired by Gus’ tattoo style art and incorporating Helping for Heroes into a scroll effect. Gus says,’’ The fact that my design is going to raise money for Help for Heroes is brilliant.’’ 

    SHOP THE OLD SCHOOL TATTOO T-SHIRT >

    A UNION OF PASSION & CREATIVITY

    A UNION OF PASSION & CREATIVITY

    Former Army Sergeant, Darren Carew had hopes of joining the military since a small child as well as becoming a rugby player. His dreams were realised after joining the Royal Welsh Regiment in 1998. ‘’Going into the Royal Regiment of Wales gave me an opportunity to be a soldier and a rugby player – so it was like a match made in heaven – and to be honest I flourished with the time in the military, I found who I wanted to be – grew - met friends I will always have’’.

    In 2008, after transferring to 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards in 2005, Darren was injured while on patrol in Afghanistan. His life changed when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in rolled over an explosive device, injuring Darren and two others. Consequently, Darren sustained injuries leading to the loss of his left leg. ‘’Getting ripped out of that environment – and all of your friends that you’ve been fighting alongside to being there (in hospital) was extremely challenging, mentally and physically. Coping with the injuries you have – to coming to terms with the sudden change – its trauma.‘’

    Now, in a much better place, Darren says ‘’Help for Heroes have had a direct impact on my progression post-injury’’. After being rehabilitated Darren focused on sports recovery, '' I was part of the GB team for the Warrior Games, with an eye towards competing at Invictus but during that competition I found my passion for coaching and gave up competing to help others.''

    Darren now works as the Disability Rugby Coordinator for the welsh Rugby Union and has worked closely with the Help for Heroes Community Recovery Team in Wales, delivering Rugby Coaching Training and wheelchair rugby sessions. He's now able to make a difference on a daily basis.  

    Darren proudly models the Proud to Support Union Jack Polo, £30. Shop the Proud to Support collection here

    COACH FOR SUCCESS

    COACH FOR SUCCESS

    Paul 'Jenks' Jenkins is a stalwart part of British wheelchair Rugby - initially as a player for Great Britain and then later as a coach. He is now Head Coach of the Ospreys Wheelchair Rugby team in Wales as well as the British Invictus team and the Help for Heroes Warrior Games team.

    He knows first-hand the benefits of getting into Wheelchair Rugby, following a devastating accident that left him a permanent wheelchair user. 

    Jenks served for six years in the Welsh Guards in the 1970's. Within a year of leaving he had a motorbike accident which broke his neck. Like the people he now helps he went along for a trial session.

    ''In my first year I was lucky enough to get selected for the Great Britain team and it's just bloomed from there''.

    Paul has proudly represented his country at Paralympics and European Championships. He has been supported by his wife Jayne.

    Now he works a lot with veterans coming through Help for Heroes. ''They're signposting people to me like there's no tomorrow! Which is great because you see them when they come first as a bit down in the dumps. The more they come the more they learn, the better they like the sport. And that's what it's all about, it's about them getting out to do something rather than sitting around depressed and fed up with life''. 

    

    We caught up with Jayne Jenkins, who is never far from Paul's side. Jayne is happy to get stuck in with helping the players at training sessions. She can't remember how many wheels she has fixed after a crash!

    Jayne wears the Navy Signature Hoody, available from the Signature collection here. 

    ''It's lovely with Paul being ex-military as well, it just gives him back being in the military family, you know, and I support him in every way that I can, to keep him busy.''

    She knows the importance of the sport to Paul: ''Job satisfaction, I think if Paul didn't do this, he would just be sat in the house doing nothing. This is his life, he eats, breathes everything wheelchair rugby.'' She loves seeing veterans coming along and trying the game with Jenks: ''It's amazing to see them going from knowing nothing to winning medals''. 

    It was brilliant having Jenks and Jayne featured on our photoshoot showing their dedication to helping veterans. They really enjoyed the day too, modelling lots of kit including the Welsh Rugby shirts! ''It's a great honour, to be asked to do that, you know we're Welsh and we're proud.''

     

    FROM RUGBY TO RECOVERY

    FROM RUGBY TO RECOVERY

    The excitement mounts this month for the start of the Rugby World Cup in Japan! This year we have partnered with Lovell to bring some fabulous branded Rugby kit ready for you to show your support for your nation. But who better to model this brand new kit, than the veterans you support, who have found an important route to their recovery through Wheelchair Rugby.

    We caught up with veterans Bruce, Jim and David earlier this Summer at an Ospreys Wheelchair Rugby training session in Merthyr Tydfil where they all proudly represented their teams - England, Wales and Scotland. 

    With more than 30 years military service between them, Bruce, Jim and David have had to fight back from serious life changing injuries leaving them all seeking a new direction. They all came to Help for Heroes for support when they needed it and were guided to sport to help in their recovery.

     Above - left to right: David, Bruce and Jim in their Ospreys Rugby kit.
     
    The veterans proudly feature as our cover image for our September catalogue - take a look and shop our newest collections, including rugby here

    Meet Jim Whitworth 

    ‘’The 4 hours we train here there’s nothing else in my mind. It takes me to a different place, I am focused on the game, the playing, my training and everything else and that’s what’s good for all of us ‘’. 

    Jim Whitworth served as a Warrant Officer in 26 Regiment in the Royal Artillery, leaving the service in 2011 after being medically discharged due to spinal problems. After going through a range of support programmes Jim got in touch with Sports Recovery at Help for Heroes, where he soon got the chance to represent the UK in the Airforce Trials in Las Vegas.

    ‘’Sports Recovery introduced me back into the fold of looking after yourself, new sports…giving you that ethos back and puts you around like-minded people as well, that have all served, or have similar interests’’.

    Jim also took part in his local pathfinder course in Treforest, Wales. He said,’’ I had a fair few lightbulb moments and it’s like a grounding course and it really sort of grounds you to understand who you are a little bit more and what makes you tick…it’s been a real eye opener and a real help, it’s got my grey matter thinking again about stuff’’.

    ‘’If I can stand in here and send that message out to other Veterans who are struggling, families and people that are serving or due to leave or who are feeling a bit lost; just to reconfirm that it’s out there. There is stuff out that you can get involved in. But for me it’s a massive privilege and it’s an honour to share my story of how I’ve been helped by Help for Heroes”.

    To have been chosen to represent England and model the Help for Heroes clothing range, including his country’s rugby shirt has been a huge moment for Jim, “I am so proud to wear this shirt and it really is lovely, I think everyone should get one!’’.

    In talking about the Help for Heroes’ community he said, ‘’I know it sounds a bit cheesy but they’re your brothers, aren’t they? We all come from different backgrounds, different cap badges, a different cause, we’ve all had different journeys, we’ve all got different injuries, but the one thing we all have in common is that we have served, and we get each other’’. 

    Watch Jim's video here

    SHOP YOUR ENGLAND RUGBY KIT >

     

    Meet Bruce Falkenberg

    ‘’I feel proud knowing that I wear it and I’m flying the flag for the British army, having served I have a sense of being’’. 

    Originally from Zimbabwe, Bruce Falkenberg joined the Royal Regiment of Wales in 2000, beginning his service in Germany. After injuries and operations, he found himself being rehabilitated at Headley Court – with no real direction in life. Medically discharged, and living in Wales, it was only after attending Help for Heroes Community Recovery support hubs that Bruce saw a path ahead in the form of wheelchair rugby. ‘’I turned up to a session, found that I was actually okay at it. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, being part of a team again.  I was grant-funded a wheelchair by Help for Heroes and Blesma, which has really given me a whole different dynamic, you know. It really opened-up the sport for me’’.

    Thoroughly immersing himself in sport led Bruce to attend the UK Invictus Trials in Bath. ‘’It was a fantastic opportunity to see so many variations of sport; people from all walks of life, both serving and veterans; by the end of it everyone had a beaming smile on their face, blisters on their hands, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed it’’.

    Bruce has noticed positive changes in the last twelve months. “I think just being around people again of the like mind, I’ve grown, both mentally and physically, being able to relate to people and talk to people. I’ve always had the ability to talk to people you know, but being part of that close-knit group, it’s like family’’.

    He says attending support hubs is a fantastic thing, “Everyone’s happy to see you, everyone’s got their own problems you know, they’re going through all sorts of things but it seems like when you walk in that door everyone’s having a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, a bit of a cake, a bit of a laugh and just for a couple of hours, nothing else seems to matter”.

    Having served in a Welsh regiment, settled in Wales, and married Louise who is a proud Welsh woman, Bruce is delighted to model the nation’s new Help for Heroes rugby shirt, ‘’It’s a great honour to be able to represent Wales and the charity which has done so much for our family’’.

    Watch Bruce's video here

    SHOP YOUR WALES RUGBY KIT >

     

    Meet David Dewar

    ‘’I just wish to say to everybody who’s helped Help for Heroes, they’re doing such a fantastic job, supporting our Servicemen in the Navy, RAF and the Army. Please keep doing it, it’s very appreciated and thank you’’. 

    David Dewar served for 16 and a half years in the Army, before a spinal injury left him unable to continue his military career.

    As a keen sportsman, David was always interested in keeping fit, pushing boundaries and staying competitive. After approaching Help for Heroes for support he said, ‘’I’ve never looked back. The support they’ve given me has been fantastic and it still carries on to this day. Without Help for Heroes, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in my sports as I am now, to a good level, which I’m happy with’’.

    2018 saw David take part in the UK Invictus Trials where he took part in a range of sports, and found his favourite, Wheelchair rugby. He says a combination of sport and medication helps him manage his pain and enables him to train, even joining the Ospreys Wheelchair Rugby Team, made up of injured veterans and civilians with a range of health conditions.

    ‘’I think for me, my main sport has to be wheelchair rugby. I enjoy it so much. I like coming and training with the guys. We’ve all got various illnesses or injuries, but we all get along. I go away with a good smile’’.

    After a challenging time, David is feeling positive again, thanks to sport. The Scotsman says, ‘’At the moment I feel that I’m in a better place, and I’m really happy and I’m really proud today to wear the Scottish top for Help for Heroes’’. 

    Watch David's video here

    SHOP YOUR SCOTLAND RUGBY KIT >

     

     

    WARRIOR GAMES | HERO STORIES

    WARRIOR GAMES | HERO STORIES

    This week a team of wounded, injured and sick Veterans represent the UK Armed Forces in Tampa, Florida to compete as part of this years Warrior Games. 

    The team will go head-to-head in 14 adaptive sports including: archery, cycling, time trial cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, field, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting, and for the first time in Warrior Games history, golf, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby.

    The team is made up of active military service members and Veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain juries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress.

    The Department of Defence (DoD) Warrior Games were created in 2010 and were designed to introduce wounded, injured and sick service members and Veterans to competitive sports. 

    We caught up with a few members of the team to hear their stories and how injury isn't holding them back.

     

    GORDON CLARKE:

    Gordon served as a Royal Navy steward for 26 years on board ships and submarines before leaving military service in 2003 due to a serious ankle injury which meant the removal of part of his right leg.

    Despite this life-changing operation, Gordon says he's in a better place, ''Going from taking about 30 different pain killers and anti-inflammatory tablets every day, to just taking two on days that I need them. That was the biggest thing. Just being off the meds has changed me''.

    Thanks to his fiancé Abbi, he found Help for Heroes, joining the Plymouth Recovery Centre's wheelchair rugby team, Endeavour. He says thanks to the support and the camaraderie he found there, he hasn't looked back.''I'm back doing wheelchair rugby and triathlon - it's all there. The world's opened up again. It's given me back what I wanted to do''.

    On representing Team UK in Tampa, he says ''It has given me a new lease of life 100%. I found the old me again''.

    ALLAN Mc SWEEN:

    Allan has been a Band of Brother since 2015 when he was medically discharged. Being supported by Help for Heroes has ''helped me tremendously'' he says. He had no intention of competing, but being involved with the Invictus programme and the Warrior Games has given him a chance to ''comeback and train with no pressure''. 

    He says ''Regardless of your injury, disability or fears, look for what other people have done with limitations and go out there and try it and see where it takes you''.

    SIMON FLORES: 

    Simon served for 12 years, 7 years with the Green Jackets, 5 with Three Rifles.

    Help for Heroes supported him after an injury led to the amputation of his leg below the knee.

    He says ''Being part of Warrior Games is fantastic. It's an honour. The kids are so happy and proud. It is great to prove to others that anything is possible when you put your mind to it, despite the injury I've got''.

    To the great British public supporting people in the same situation as him he says their support has ''given ex-servicemen with physical disabilities something else to focus on, so they can push forward with their lives''.

    PAUL METCALFE:

    ''I started going to Help for Heroes 2 years ago when I hit rock bottom. My sister found out about Phoenix House (Recovery Centre). When I first went there I was 18 stone and would not come out of my room. But they got me involved with sport''.

    Being involved with Help for Heroes has ''opened up loads of doors'' for Paul. As well as sport and now being in the Warrior Games team he is also a volunteer for a modelling group at Phoneix House. He had stopped model making when he got ill but it has really helped him in his recovery - having a laugh with friends and being completely focused on modelling and not thinking about other things.

    Being in Warrior Games has made Paul feel ''absolutely brilliant. everyone has gelled together. I am back being part of a team. It is a real sense of achievement to have got to this point''. It has made him feel a lot better and given him a lot of drive to go for it with this big chance. 

    Shop our range of military blueprint T-Shirts here >

    Shop our Challenge Yourself Sportwear collection here >