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    JACO VAN GASS IN TOP GEAR

    JACO VAN GASS IN TOP GEAR

    GB Paralympic cyclist and self-confessed adventurer, Jaco van Gass is not someone to shy away from a challenge. Running, cycling and pushing himself to perform his best come second-nature.

    He joined us on our 'Challenge Yourself' photoshoot to model the collection he helped create in partnership with fellow Veteran, Andy Perrin and our in-house designers.

    Jaco served in the Parachute Regiment. On his second tour of Afghanistan in 2009 he suffered life-changing injuries; a blast from a Rocket Propelled Grenade resulted in shrapnel wounds, blast wounds to his left leg and losing his left arm. Soon after he became involved with Help for Heroes.

    ''Help for Heroes has introduced me to a number of challenges that really helped me realise what I was still capable of doing and achieving after not only injury, but also military life''.

    Above: Jaco models the Challenge Yourself sportswear collection and some of our new range on location in the New forest, alongside his fiancé Kathryn. 

    With Andy Perrin, Jaco took part in Race Across America (RAAM) - one of the word's toughest endurance cycling events - 3,081 miles through 12 states. In March this year Jaco took on Cape Epic in South Africa - an 8 day mountain bike stage race. They became the first disabled team to complete this challenge.

    Jaco and Andy were the perfect duo to help us design our latest sportswear collection, bringing their experience and expertise to influence the look and feel as well as the kit's technical performance detailing.

    Above: Veterans and creators of the Challenge Yourself sports range, Andy Perrin and Jaco van Gass proudly model items from the collection.

    ''I have really enjoyed being involved in the design and being able to produce some great kit that I know others will love. I am looking forward to seeing rides and challenges to come with participants wearing the newly designed kit''.

     

     

    BEN SKIPPER | CHARTING A NEW LIFE BEYOND INJURY

    BEN SKIPPER | CHARTING A NEW LIFE BEYOND INJURY

    Former Force Protection NCO Ben, suffered increasingly with a range of balance, muscular and co-ordination issues to the extent doctors thought he might have onset dementia. It was during tests, that an MRI scan picked up bright spots of damage in Ben's brain and it was found that Ben had experienced a traumatic brain injury during his days in the RAF. 

    Starting in the Officer Training Corps before joining the RAF in 1997, Ben served in conflict zones including Kosovo and Sierra Leone. He also played rugby for the RAF. Symptoms of his brain injury started to impact on his life and became progressively worse after leaving the Service in 2002.

    Ben sought support from Help for Heroes in 2015. He says,'You always think there are people far worse off than you, who are more deserving of the help because of what they've been through and that is not what Help for Heroes is about. It fulfills a need for people to grow and develop outside of the military'. 

    Creativity, in the form of photography and design, has been a key outlet for Ben. It's also a new career path which he manages around his condition through self-employment.

    Through the Band of Brothers fellowship Ben seized an opportunity to get involved with designing a range for our Armed Forces Day Collection. Joining a creative workshop run by the Shop Team he was amazed at the talent of the other Veterans. He really enjoyed the creative process, saying 'It's an amazing feeling to see my work used and it has really helped with my confidence'.

    Ben models his Proud to Support Lion motif as a T-Shirt design, alongside model Christine who wears an accompanying Unicorn T-Shirt as part of the range.

    Armed Forces Day for Ben: ''For some it's a gathering of old friends and comrades. For some it's a moment to reflect. For family members it's a moment to reflect on the safe return of loved ones. Nationally it's become a focal point for what the Armed Forces can achieve. It celebrates what's good about being a Veteran and that's very important.''

     Ben Skipper models his Lion T-Shirt design on-set in the New Forest.

    Ben Skipper on location in the New Forest with fellow Veteran Jaco van Gass and his partner Kathryn Pringle and our Help for Heroes models' Barney and Christine. All modelling the new Proud to Support Lion and Unicorn T-Shirts. 

    The full Proud to Support collection includes patriotic and premium styles, including a Union Jack Proud to Support T-Shirt, hoody and polo; all to inspire you to stand proud, and show your support for our Veterans and their loved ones.

    ''Support from Help for Heroes is not just for the Veterans it's for the families as well. The support is for events, facilitating sport and creativity and camaraderie. I am amazed at how many things they do and amazed at how far they make those donations stretch.'' Ben Skipper

     

    RAV WILDING

    RAV WILDING

    Rav Wilding understands more than most what it is like to have your military career cut short by injury. He joined the 5th Airborne Brigade at 17 but a severe leg break meant his dream of a life in the British Army was over at just 22.

    Rav then made a new life in the London Metropolitan Police which led to the beginning of his TV career on Crimewatch as a serving Policeman. He has since become a firm favourite on our TV screens.

    He has been involved in various ways with Help for Heroes. Most recently he supported our Tough Mudder events taking part in one of the courses. He toughed it out with the best of them. He also joined us on a photoshoot to showcase our latest collection of Help for Heroes T-shirts and hoodies – natural in front of the camera.

    Rav is glad to be involved. “I have seen at Tedworth House first-hand how much work goes into supporting those with injuries you can see as well as those you can’t.”

    “I missed the feeling of a family unit you get in the Army. Help for Heroes really helps to keep that going which is so important. And you know they are not just supporting the injured men and women, they are supporting the family behind them as well.”

    Also, he understands the importance of sport as part of recovery: “When you have had such a massive change in your life it is great to have a focus to direct your energy towards another goal.”

     

     

     

    DAN RICHARDS | DAN'S THE MAN

    DAN RICHARDS | DAN'S THE MAN

    Dan Richards is cool, funny and life affirming to be around. He is a professional model, cyclist and body confidence ambassador. Oh yes, he has also lost his right arm and shoulder after an accident and was medically discharged from the Army in 2012. 

    After 330 job applications he was down on his last few pence, living at home, becoming increasingly depressed and reclusive. ''I thought to myself what have I got to look forward to? If this is what life has got in store for me after the military, I would rather not be part of it''. After feeling that he had hit rock bottom, Dan accepted that he needed help to improve his life. 

    His mum got in contact with Help for Heroes to get help for Dan. Renewing the support turned things around. Dan was put in touch with Capstar Chaffeurs - a new start-up employing ex-military. Living back in London he started to ''win himself back'' and take every opportunity that came his way through Help for Heroes. 

    ''The support from Help for Heroes and the great British public - there are thousands of us on the receiving end of it. If I could I would go out and thank each one of them who have run a marathon, cycled hundreds of miles around France or bought a hoody or T-shirt. It might be a hoody or a T-shirt to you, but you are indirectly helping to change a person's life and that is the biggest reward in itself. I am testament to that''. 

    MEET: ANDY PERRIN

    MEET: ANDY PERRIN

    He’s a Veteran, Invictus Games gold medallist, a Design Technology Teacher and a Help for Heroes Ambassador. He joined us on our ‘Challenge Yourself’ cycling photoshoot to model the range he helped create in partnership with Veteran Jaco Van Gass and our in-house designers. 

    Andy served in the Royals Signals for 12 years with tours in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan before being medically discharged and finding a new career path through the Troops to Teachers scheme.

    Andy became involved with cycling when he joined Help for Heroes Band of Brothers taking on some amazing challenges, including Race across America in 2017, and his gold winning performance at The Invictus Games. With Jaco, Andy was perfect to bring his cycling experience to help design our latest collection influencing the look and feel as well as the kit’s technical detailing for improved performance.

    He says ‘’Having purpose always makes you feel good and I think that myself and Jaco have really enjoyed the process from the very start up until now and I can’t wait to see the products in the catalogue and see people enjoy the kit’’.

    The full range of 'Challenge Yourself' kit is available online now! This exclusive range includes professional and core cycling gear, technical t-shirts, vests, and a choice of shorts; all perfect to kick-start your fitness for Spring.