At a reception at St James’s Palace last night, Prince Harry rallied for plight of injured veterans.
There for the Endeavour Fund, which works closely with the Royal Foundation – William, Catherine and Harry’s charitable vehicle – Harry spoke of the amazing impact it has had on former soldiers, injured in the line of duty.
Set up three years ago, the fund has supported 950 servicemen and women on 21 challenges, including mountain expeditions, desert races and the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry gave a speech to the room, which included current and potential backers, as well as former servicemen and women, to set out the new aims for the fund.
“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.
“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.
Harry went on to show some impressive statistics from the fund’s achievements: 95% reported an increase in self-esteem, 85% felt they learned transferable skills and bolstered their CV.
“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,” Harry finished.
After, the Prince mingled with guests, and spoke to Chris Herbert, who lost his leg in Iraq in 2007. However, this has not stopped him: he sailed across the Atlantic, and is planning to do it again.
“I didn’t want to do it initially because I thought we were going to be treated like the disabled crew and give us it easy.
“I didn’t feel that we could be competitive and I didn’t feel that I was up to the job. My perception of the sport was based on that.
“But once I was in it I got and after day one everything changed.For me sailing puts things on an even keel. The fact that I have one leg doesn’t hinder the speed of the boat.”
Captain Wales, who left the Army earlier this year, called Herbert ‘an absolute lunatic’ for attempting to complete to mission again, with three other injured servicemen, supported by the Endeavour Fund.
“I met Harry when I completed the row for the first time and he recognised me and told me I was an absolute lunatic for doing it again,” Mr Herbert said.
The team of four has three legs between them; they will compete against 28 able bodied crews and will start from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 15th December, finishing in Antigua six weeks later.