Trust them, trust yourselves – for you had the same training.The Duke of Sussex
As you have already heard this evening, we have supported nearly a thousand wounded, injured and sick Service men and women through the Endeavour Fund over the last three years - they have climbed mountains, rowed oceans, raced across deserts, flown ridiculously small microlights and reigned supreme at last year's Invictus Games. Most of which simply wouldn’t have been possible without all of your support. So from all of us, thank you.
It never ceases to amaze me the commitment, determination and resolve of these men and women; injured while serving our country, but refusing to be beaten or defined by their injuries. As I have said before, my admiration for all these individuals is boundless. Thankfully the nation shares my admiration, and the British Public's support for our Service men, women and veterans has been quite simply fantastic.
Millions of pounds has been raised across the UK to support the men and women of our Armed Forces, especially over the last decade. For many people, this is the only way they can show their gratitude for the sacrifices you have made. It is our collective responsibility to ensure these funds are well spent. In some cases this money has adapted homes for guys living with life changing injuries. In others, such as the Endeavour Fund, it has funded the opportunity for individuals to challenge themselves, rediscovering what it means to be part of a team again, unified by a common goal. We should not underestimate the power this has on recovery:
• 95% reported a positive impact on transition
• 95% reported an increase in self-esteem
• 85% felt they learned transferable skills
• 80% said it had improved their CV
These are numbers I am not making up - they are true.
I imagine if asked, 100% of them would say their Endeavour was great fun too but they were bloody sore at the end of it!
However, three years on there is still more to be done.
For some people, the struggle to move beyond injury or past experience continues. They suffer in silence, unwilling or unaware of which way to turn for help; for whatever reason they have become 'the hard to reach'. No longer accessible through the traditional networks, as they have gone to ground, believing that the right help isn't out there for them, or it's all just too confusing and complicated.
Well, in this next phase of the Endeavour Fund, we will be asking those who have taken part in previous endeavours to take a leading role in future challenges. Some as project managers but more significantly to act as peer mentors, forming a support network for those veterans who have not found the impulse to come forward. Our inspirational alumni are ideally placed to help these hard-to-reach individuals rediscover their sense of purpose through sport and challenges.
Those who have spent time in the military are proud to acknowledge that they are defined by that service. To describe yourself as a soldier, sailor or airman means something. But when that is taken away through injury or illness, sometimes that definition of self and all that goes with it can become a negative, anchoring you to the past.
The Endeavour Fund is here to support and engage these men and women through sport and adventurous challenges. We've proven the model already, just look around the room! Most here would say they are the lucky ones. So I would ask all those who may, for whatever reason, feel reluctant to come forward; just dare yourselves to be part of a team again, to work towards a common aim, and most importantly to move beyond being defined by your injury.
Give yourself the opportunity to create a new definition - sportsman, athlete, guide, adventurer! And most importantly, reconnect with people that understand. People that been through exactly what you're going through now. Trust them, trust yourselves – for you had the same training.
So many of you here this evening have played a vital role in our success to date, whether through funding, gifts in kind or through your time and expertise. Please continue to help us in this next phase, as we seek to reach out to those who need us most. I guarantee it will be the best and most rewarding investment you'll ever make.
The Endeavour Fund has proved that we really can make a fundamental difference to the lives of our wounded, injured and sick; reigniting their fighting spirit as they re-enter civilian life, so together, let's keep changing lives. We owe it to them.