Members of the London Welsh squad paid a visit to Tedworth House on Monday to see first-hand the outstanding work being done at the Recovery Centre in Tidworth, Wiltshire, by the club’s official charity partner, Help for Heroes.
It will be the turn of Help for Heroes to visit London Welsh on Sunday when H4H will be the club’s official match day charity at the Exiles’ Aviva Premiership clash with Bath Rugby at the Kassam Stadium (KO 2:30pm). There will also be a bucket collection at the match.
On Monday, London Welsh Chief Executive Officer Mike Stevens, Olly Barkley, Nick Scott, Taione Vea, Tim Molenaar, Josh McNally and Ricky Reeves first visited the ‘Tin Hut’ to see where Help for Heroes all began in October 2007.
The players learnt how Bryn and Emma Parry, Mark Elliott and a few enthusiastic volunteers launched the charity – scrounging facilities, furniture equipment along the way – with the initial sole purpose of raising some money towards the £5m needed for a swimming pool at Headley Court. Seven and a half years on Help for Heroes has raised in excess of £200m for injured service personnel.
"It was extraordinary; the simple idea planted by Bryn and Emma Parry for people ‘to do their bit’ sparked the imagination of the British public and they certainly have ‘done their bit’ and continue to do so," explained Mark, Head of External Operations.
The players were given an insight into some of the amazing people Help for Heroes has helped in that time, before meeting and posing for photos with some of the volunteers who support the fundraising efforts for the charity, The ‘Tin Hut’ remains the hub of the charity’s fundraising efforts.
The players then showed their support for the Bake for Heroes fundraising campaign by posing with a cake, with Josh even donning a very fetching apron for the occasion. You can find out more about Bake for Heroes on their website at www.helpforheroes.org.uk
London Welsh Chief Executive Officer Mike Stevens marked the club’s visit to the Tin Hut by presenting Mark with signed London Welsh and Help for Heroes shirts.
The players then made the short drive to Tedworth House, one of Help for Heroes’ four recovery centres, where they met Help for Heroes ambassador Simon Harmer, who was just one month into his tour, serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps in Afghanistan, when he lost both his legs after stepping on an IED in October 2009.
Simon has since gone on, however, to raise thousands for Help the Heroes through various extraordinary challenges, including cycling across America and competing in triathlons, and his story is a true inspiration.
The players then presented Simon with a signed London Welsh shirt, and the club is delighted that Simon will be a guest of London Welsh at Sunday’s Premiership match with Bath Rugby.
The players were then given a guided tour of the outstanding facilities at Tedworth House and learnt about the work they do to help wounded, injured and sick service personnel recover from their physical and mental wounds, and adapt to the reality of a different future.
The tour included the centre’s art room, the British Airway donated First Class cabin, the living accommodation and culminated in a visit to the Phoenix Centre where the players saw the gym and Skiplex, before having a go at Sitting Volleyball.
After a warm up in mixed teams, the London Welsh boys were joined by Ben Steele – Wheelchair Rugby gold medallist at the Invictus Games – as the Exiles took on a Tedworth House team. The home advantage told, however, as the Tedworth House side narrowly came out on top!
In addition to Ben, the players also met Natalie Robinson, who also won gold for Great Britain at the Invictus Games in Wheelchair Rugby. The players ended their visit by presenting signed Help for Heroes shirts to both Natalie and Ben.
"I really enjoyed seeing where and how Help for Heroes all started. Being a serving soldier myself I’m very grateful for what they’re doing; it’s fantastic. And not only them but the public. They only initially wanted to raise £5m but the public really caught on to it the money just flooded in, and it’s nice to know that we’re supported," said London Welsh’s Ricky Reeves, who along with Josh McNally, is a serving member of the Armed Forces.
"It really struck with Josh and myself, and seeing some of the artwork in the art room and the pain some of these boys have gone through. It’s nice to see they’re not alone and there are people there to help them get through it.
"I’d never done Sitting Volleyball before, but I could have done that all day. Even though I was rubbish, I really enjoyed it."
Tickets: London Welsh vs Bath Rugby
Tickets for London Welsh’s Aviva Premiership fixture with Bath Rugby on Sunday 29th March (kick-off 2:30pm) at the Kassam Stadium are available at:
or by calling the London Welsh Ticket Office on 01865 717661.