The 28th February marks 30 years since the end of the first Gulf War. Our new collection depicts different areas of the Armed Forces, to commemorate this anniversary. The range includes the iconic Warrior, Tornado and the Type 42 Destroyer: HMS Gloucester, all part of Operation Granby. All designs are available as T-Shirts, phone cases and notebooks.
The new range of T-Shirts are modelled by Help for Heroes veterans and ambassadors, who shared their stories of service and recovery.
Veteran Kev Gray wears the Warrior T-Shirt
Ex-Army and Gulf War veteran, Kev Gray knows only too well how public support can change lives. Kev suffers with PTSD as well as physical restrictions to his lower limbs, as a result of his time in service. It was in 2015 that Kev first encountered Help for Heroes and began finding focus and learning new skills.
‘’Being involved with Help for Heroes has made a great impact on my life. I attended a Rocking Horse making course where over an 8-month period I learned to follow a methodical process and achieve something I would never have thought possible. I also made lots of friends at the recovery centre and formed trust and friendships that will last for life’’.
February 2021 marks the 30th Anniversary since the end of the first Gulf War and Kev was proud to wear our one of our new commemorative T-Shirts, the Warrior, to mark this time.
‘’I am a veteran of the Gulf War which has had a massive impact on my life. I used the equipment shown on the shirts and felt I could wear one with pride, to say "I was there 30 years ago". I also hope to encourage others to support the charity by purchasing one themselves. And naturally, I am proud to represent the charity which is a great support to myself and my family’’.
Kev is a proud Ambassador for Help for Heroes, regularly sharing his experiences with other veterans. ‘’Being an ambassador means the world to me. I did not choose a life of mental and physical disabilities but that’s how it is. Help for Heroes recognised something in myself that could be used to help others like myself come forward for assistance. Being an ambassador has given me a real purpose in life and I am very proud to represent such a fantastic charity. It has also given me the opportunity to travel and meet people and share my story’’.
‘’Without Help for Heroes I would be lost. I never felt there was any part for me to play in professional life. I would not have my biggest coping strategy, which is to occupy my mind building rocking horses during my most dark times. I would not have the support network I now feel I have. And I would not have the confidence to realise that there is a quality of life after mental illness. For so long I lived believing I was beneath society and not good enough for anything after being medically discharged. Help for Heroes changed my thought process and I am now producing something tactile and beautiful and have found my personal pride again. It also gives me great comfort when my family proudly tell people that I am an ambassador for such a great charity’’.
Veteran Matt Neve wears the Tornado T-Shirt
Ex-RAF veteran, Matt Neve was a Senior Aircraftman before being medically discharged in 2004. He suffered from mental health difficulties, which led to several challenges, including depression.
In 2016 Matt joined Help for Heroes’ Band of Brothers fellowship and began receiving help from the Hidden Wounds Service for his mental health and engaged with Sports Recovery, which introduced him to Archery. ‘’This is where I began to realise there was help and support out there and I was not on my own. From there Help for Heroes have supported me and my family over the years from financial assistance through to psychological wellbeing’’.
A passion for Archery led to Matt being selected as part of Team UK to compete in the Invictus Games in 2017 where he won a Gold medal. ‘’Being supported by the charity has helped me survive. It has helped myself and my family come closer as a unit and realise there are others out there in similar situations. This has helped grow a support network for myself and my family. Through Help for Heroes I found new sport, new friends and a new community which has meant that I am no longer on my own’’.
February 2021 marks the 30th Anniversary since the end of the first Gulf War and Matt was proud to wear our one of our new commemorative T-Shirts, the Tornado, ‘’I love the Tornado. I served as MT in the RAF and my main role was airfield support and I’ve had the opportunity to refuel these fantastic aircraft many times. It’s vital the Tornado is recognised for the aircraft it was and the massive impact the Tornado’s had on the Gulf War’’.
Matt is a proud to give back to others as a Help for Heroes Ambassador. ‘’Being an ambassador means I can give back to Help for Heroes for the support I have had. It allows me to reach out into the community to find veterans that would benefit from the support from Help for Heroes. It also means I can tell the veteran and civilian communities of the support the charity has given me to show how much work the charity does’’.
‘’Please buy from Help for Heroes as it means the charity can continue its valuable work to help support veterans like myself as well as seek out those veterans who haven’t got the support yet. There are many veterans who are suffering with physical and psychological injuries that have not come forward yet or going through the process. It’s charities like Help for Heroes that means we can continue getting the support’’.
Veteran Graham Hudspith wears the HMS Gloucester T-Shirt
Ex-Naval man, Gulf War veteran and Help for Heroes Ambassador, Graham Hudspith joined the Navy in 1983 and served 3 years onboard H.M.S Brazen. Graham says,’’ She was my home, my work, my social space, so I suppose you get quite attached. We were going out to the middle east as we had been escorting ships through the shipping lanes in the Gulf area’’.
February 2021 marks the 30th Anniversary since the end of the first Gulf War and Graham was proud to wear our one of our new commemorative T-Shirts, the HMS Gloucester, to mark this time.
In 1999, after 16 years of service Graham was medically discharged due to neck and back injuries, sustained while playing rugby for the Navy. He says,’’ I felt alone, unwanted and cast on a scrapheap, sent to retirement at the ripe old age of 34’’.
Graham worked hard to build himself a new life after service, but sadly in 2012, Graham discovered he had stage 4 Bowel Cancer, leading to surgery and chemotherapy. ‘’ I couldn’t work anymore, in fact I could barely walk. The amount of chemicals put in my body had taken its toll, I couldn’t take anymore and closed down. It took 3 years to get through this I felt worse than ever, worthless and not worth a second thought for anyone’’.
It was at this point in his life, Graham found Help for Heroes.’’ Help for Heroes changed my life from top to bottom. They gave me a purpose to get up in the morning. It’s not all fluffy pillows, slippers and chocolates though. It’s more about giving you the tools, and to get out and start using them, but always knowing there’s a safety cushion in case you fall down trying’’.
From this point Graham went from strength to strength. Taking part in the 2015 Hero Ride, hand-cycling from London to Windsor. ‘’It gave me the bug, almost an addiction. I had to be part of it. I’d never known since my Naval days such camaraderie’’.
Building on his passion for cycling Graham was later selected to compete for Team UK at the Warrior Games in America, achieving a gold and two silver medals in Hand-cycling. ‘’The reality is your there with people like you, understanding you and wanting the very best from you and your performances’’.
From hand-cycling to wood-turning, Graham’s willingness to learn led him to a love of wood. ’’Most of all though is my new-found love of woodturning, carving and in fact anything wood. I spent a long time in the woodshed at Phoenix House, again with like-minded people wanting to help. I have slowly found more than an interest in this, I do it every day and since the closure of Phoenix House, we’re looking at ways to carry on as a community’’.
A proud Ambassador for Help for Heroes, Graham enjoys giving back, ‘’I became an Ambassador just to convince people like me to seek help, don’t give up and there really is a future’’.