Help for Heroes

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Help for Heroes
PurposeSupporting wounded British Armed Forces Service Personnel
HeadquartersDownton (near Salisbury), Wiltshire
Region served
United Kingdom
Official language
Melanie Waters

Help for Heroes (H4H) is a British charity launched on 1 October 2007 to help provide better facilities for British servicemen and women who have been wounded or injured in the line of duty.[1] It was founded by Bryn Parry OBE and his wife Emma Parry OBE after they visited soldiers at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. The charity was launched after a meeting with General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army.[2]

H4H has attracted high-profile trustees and patrons and has the support of ABF The Soldiers' Charity (formerly the Army Benevolent Fund) and the Ministry of Defence.[3] It has also attracted support from national newspapers in the United Kingdom, such as The Sun[4][5] and The Sunday Times who made H4H one of the beneficiaries of their Christmas appeal in 2007, raising a total of £674,000 for the charity.[6]


Help for Heroes was co-founded by Bryn Parry and his wife Emma Parry, and launched on 1 October 2007. Bryn had served with the Royal Green Jackets for ten years before leaving to become a cartoonist. The couple visited Selly Oak hospital, where they met injured servicemen and women, in July 2007 and decided they needed to do something to help.[7] Bryn and Emma Parry were both invested with the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for their services to charity on 25 November 2010.[8]

In May 2013, Help for Heroes hit the headlines when British soldier Lee Rigby was murdered in Woolwich, London. Rigby had been wearing a Help for Heroes hooded jumper when he was killed, and the charity received over £600,000 in donations in the week following the attack.[9][10]

The charity had an income of £41M and employed nearly 400 people in 2014/15. In November 2016, Melanie Waters, former chief executive of The Poppy Factory, became the chief executive of the charity when Bryn Parry stood down after nine years in charge.[11]

Recovery centres[edit]

In partnership with the Ministry of Defence and The Royal British Legion, Help for Heroes runs four recovery centres: Tedworth House[12] (Tidworth), Chavasse VC House (Colchester), Naval Service Recovery Centre (Plymouth) and Phoenix House (Catterick).[13][14] Each centre is a location for the Defence Recovery Capability programme. Participants in the programme receive coordinated medical, psychological and welfare support designed to help them overcome sickness and injury, and ultimately return to active duty or transition to civilian life.

Sports Recovery programme[edit]

Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, giving the charity’s beneficiaries access to over 50 sports every year and enabling wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports from grassroots through to performance level.[15]

Help for Heroes works in partnership with the British Paralympic Association,[16] UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport and relevant national governing bodies to introduce military personnel and veterans to Paralympic sport.

Invictus Games[edit]

Help for Heroes worked in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and The Royal British Legion to support the UK team for the 2016 Invictus Games, held in Orlando, Florida. Help for Heroes was primarily responsible for helping provide the training, selection and development of the 108-strong team.[17][18]


Help for Heroes grants funds to more than 60 specialist charities including The Prince’s Trust, The Poppy Factory and Combat Stress.

The charity also provides financial support to wounded personnel, veterans and families. The oldest beneficiary of the charity is Robbie Clarke, who was 96 when he received an emergency grant in 2015, to ensure he could remain living at home.[19]

Fundraising activities[edit]

Hawk T1 of the RAF Red Arrows

H4H keeps a "running total" on its website which is updated weekly with the total amount raised, which in April 2009 stood at over £19 million. In February 2010, H4H had raised £40 million. In June 2011, the charity announced that it had raised £100 million in under four years. As at September 2012, the figure was £200 million.[20]


Help for Heroes stages a growing calendar of events each year, including the biennial Catterick Ball[21] in North Yorkshire and evenings such as the Tower of London Heroes Dinner hosted by the President of Help for Heroes, General Sir Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL. The charity family fun day Heroes Sunday attracted thousands of visitors in 2015.[22]

Help for Heroes Challenges[edit]

H4H offers challenges including bike rides in Europe; the Big Battlefield Bike Ride in May 2008 was the inaugural H4H challenge where 300 cyclists biked from HMS Victory at Portsmouth. The group then cycled through Northern France, tracing some of the region's most significant First World War and Second World War battle sites, and returned to London; the event raised £1 million. There have been ten further bike rides and they are considered one of the charity's main challenges. Supporters also take part in a wide variety of other challenges, such as treks through Nepal and the Sahara Desert, Skydives, various marathons from London to Barcelona, the chance to climb Kilimanjaro and two one-day challenges; a New Forest bike ride and a 26-mile walk from Avebury to Stonehenge.[citation needed]

Supporters' events[edit]

On 5 September 2008, H4H held a Heroes Ball to raise funds. A charity auction included an RAF donated prize to fly with the Red Arrows, the RAF's aerobatics team. The winning bid was £1.5 million which gave the winner, Julie Heselden, the chance for her and eight family members to fly in the team's Hawk jets. The RAF said of the bid, "We know it is a special prize – a once in a lifetime opportunity – but we are all astounded that someone could be so generous. The RAF is genuinely delighted to have helped in raising such a fantastic amount of money for such a worthwhile charity."[23]

City Salute[edit]

The charity was a joint beneficiary of the "City Salute"[24] held on 8 May 2008 in London, hosted by patron of the charity Jeremy Clarkson and attended by Princes William and Harry who are both members of the armed services.[25]

Sporting challenges[edit]

On 20 September 2008, Twickenham Stadium hosted a challenge rugby union match featuring rugby players from around the world which raised £1.1m and was televised live. The match featured a "Help for Heroes XV" and an "International Select XV". Former England captains Phil de Glanville and Lawrence Dallaglio acted as team manager and captain respectively for the H4H XV with Welsh rugby players Ieuan Evans and Scott Gibbs filling the same roles for the International Select XV. The teams included players from the Guinness Premiership, National Division One, the Celtic League, overseas players and players from the armed forces.[citation needed] The Help for Heroes XV won the match 29–10 in front of a crowd of 52,254 which included The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.[26] Performing at the event were the Band of the Royal Hospital School, Blake, Escala and the Royal Marines Commandos abseil team.[27]

A second rugby match, 'The Heroes Rugby Challenge' was played on 3 December 2011 at Twickenham Stadium.[28] The match featured Lawrence Dallaglio, Jason Leonard and Ieuan Evans managing the H4H Northern Hemisphere XV against a Southern Hemisphere team, coached by Wayne Smith and Nick Mallett and overseen by Michael Lynagh and Sean Fitzpatrick.[29]

On 12 November 2009, a football match was held at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire, between an England XI team and a Rest of the World XI team, playing for the Heroes Cup. The teams comprised ex-professional footballers, other sportspersons and celebrities, and footballing members of the armed forces. The match was broadcast live on ITV4 and BFBS, and was commentated on by Peter Drury and Joe Royle. The Rest of the World beat England 4-1.[citation needed]

The X Factor charity single[edit]

In October 2010, it was announced that the finalists of the seventh series of The X Factor would be recording a version of David Bowie's 1977 song "Heroes". The song was released in aid of H4H and the Royal British Legion.[30] All sixteen finalists of Series 7 performed the song on 20 November 2010's results show.[31] In the first week of its release, it went straight to number 1 and sold 313,244 copies, more than the rest of the top ten at the time combined.[32]

British chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling announced he would effectively waive VAT on the single, by donating the value of the VAT paid on the single to the charity. He said "I very much support the Help for Heroes campaign and I support too the efforts being made by the X Factor contestants, and in recognition of that I am proposing effectively to waive VAT on this sale of these singles."[33]

Help for Heroes Concert 2010[edit]

This was held on 12 September 2010 at Twickenham Stadium in London, and featured, among others, Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow, Peter Kay, Tom Jones and Pixie Lott. The concert was shown live on BBC One and was presented by Cat Deeley.

Convoy for Heroes[edit]

At Easter 2011, the first Convoy for Heroes event took place at Gaydon in Warwickshire, to raise money for Help for Heroes. Organised by Land Rover enthusiasts, Convoy for Heroes took the form of a world-record breaking convoy of 348 Land Rovers, including SAS 'Pink Panther' Land Rovers, and several SAS troops themselves. A second Convoy for Heroes event was held over Easter 2012, this time at the larger Prestwold Hall site in Leicestershire.[34] So far, over £25,000 has been raised by Convoy for Heroes.[citation needed]

4x4 European Rally[edit]

The Help for Heroes 4x4 European Rally[35] is an annual non-speed battlefield touring assembly that takes place in June. The event has raised over £1 million for the charity. Starting in England, it covers 2,000 miles and seven countries in twelve days, visiting World War I and II battlefields and museums. It is open to 45 teams of road-legal off-road vehicles, with at least two drivers per team.[citation needed]

Hot Shots Calendar[edit]

Since 2009 the arms firm Edgar Brothers has produced a promotional calendar, the Hot Shots Calendar, featuring glamour models.[36] Fifty per cent of the money made from sales of the calendar and associated products goes to various UK and US military charities including Special Operations Warrior Foundation and Help for Heroes.[37]


The charity's trustees in 2015 included:[38]


The patrons are:[39]

Hero patrons
Founder patrons


Help for Heroes was awarded the Support to the Armed Forces award during the 2008 Sun Military Awards – "For a civilian, a civil servant, a contractor or just an ordinary member of the public, who has provided invaluable help to the Armed Forces".


In August 2012 a group of wounded ex-servicemen, featured in a report for BBC's Newsnight, criticised Help for Heroes for its relationship to the Ministry of Defence. The criticism was levelled because of the charity's decision to use funds to subsidise expensive MOD buildings rather than for soldiers' everyday care. The charity has agreed to spend £153 million on constructing and running five regional MOD Personnel Recovery Centres, primarily for serving military personnel, which discharged servicemen can only use on a case-by-case basis.[41][42] A subsequent investigation by the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit into the original Newsnight report upheld the charity's complaint about the programme and concluded that "there was no evidence to back Newsnight's claim about Help for Heroes".[43]


  1. ^ "Help for Heroes – At A Glance". Help for Heroes. 2007–2009. Archived from the original on 31 December 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Help for Heroes". Mr. D L. 2008. Archived from the original on 22 November 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  3. ^ "MOD welcomes Help for Heroes charity". Ministry of Defence. 1 October 2007. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Some gave all. All gave some". The Sun. Archived from the original on 7 July 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  5. ^ "Help for Heroes – Supported by The Sun". The Sun. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  6. ^ "Christmas appeal raises £1.2m". The Sunday Times. London. 20 January 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  7. ^ Jacoby, Charlie. "Shooting Politics, episode 12, 20 January 2010". Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Family affair became £50m charity". BBC News. BBC. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  9. ^ Help For Heroes donations surge after machete murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich | UK | News | Daily Express
  10. ^ Donations of £600,000 made to Help for Heroes since murder of soldier
  11. ^ Ricketts, Andy (5 August 2016). "Melanie Waters appointed chief executive of Help for Heroes". Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Help for Heroes Tedworth House Recovery Centre Receives Employment Accolade". 2 February 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Defence recovery and personnel recovery centres". GOV.UK. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Help for Heroes opens northern recovery centre in Catterick". BBC News. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  15. ^ "St Mary's Hosts Help for Heroes Sports Recovery Programme". 21 November 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  16. ^ "Help for Heroes unveils sports recovery centre for wounded soldiers". ITV. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Prince Harry unveils the UK team for the Invictus Games 2016". GOV.UK. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  18. ^ "British heroes reflect on a hugely successful second Invictus Games". The Telegraph. 14 May 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  19. ^ "Help for Heroes join fight to keep WWII veteran in his own home". Daily Mail. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  20. ^ "Help for Heroes Running Totals". Help for Heroes. Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  21. ^ "Help for Heroes Catterick Ball". The Northern Echo. 8 August 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  22. ^ "Redcar Racecourse hosting Help For Heroes family fun day". Gazette Live. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  23. ^ Joseph, John (8 September 2008). "Briton pays 1.5 million pounds to fly with Red Arrows". Reuters. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  24. ^ "City Salute". City Salute 2008. 8 May 2008. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  25. ^ "Princes attend forces spectacle". BBC News. BBC. 8 May 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  26. ^ "Johnson's Heroes win charity game". BBC news. 20 September 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  27. ^ "Help for Heroes Challenge Match – Saturday 20th September 2008". Help for Heroes. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  28. ^ "Heroes Rugby Challenge 2011". Heroes Rugby Challenge. Archived from the original on 2 December 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  29. ^ "Heroes Rugby Challenge Teams". Heroes Rugby Challenge. Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  30. ^ "X Factor: finalists cover David Bowie for charity". Newsbeat. BBC. 15 October 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  31. ^ "Simon backs Heroes". ITV. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  32. ^ "X Factor single tops UK charts". BBC News. BBC. 2 November 2008. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  33. ^ Summers, Deborah (30 October 2008). "Darling gives X Factor charity song VAT boost". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  34. ^ "Convoy for Heroes 2012". Convoy for Heroes. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  35. ^ "Help for Heroes 4x4 European Rally". Help for Heroes European Rally. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  36. ^ "FAQs". Hot Shots Calendar. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  37. ^ "Hot Shots Calendar Selects SSD As Exclusive Media Partner". Soldier Systems: an industry daily. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  38. ^ "Charity number 1120920". Charity Commission. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  39. ^ "Help for Heroes Patrons". Help for Heroes. Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  40. ^ Driscoll, Margaret (2 December 2007). "Clarkson's hero – How Jeremy Clarkson's outrage over a wounded soldier led to this year's Sunday Times Christmas appeal". The Sunday Times. London. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  41. ^ "Help for Heroes patron criticises 'cosy' MoD links". Daily Telegraph. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  42. ^ Stickler, Angus (9 August 2012). "Help for Heroes and MoD criticised by injured troops". BBC. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  43. ^ "BBC apologises for Newsnight Help for Heroes report". BBC. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.

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