Prince Harry attended a reception on 11 November to celebrate the achievements of the Endeavour Fund and outline the vision for the next three years.
At the event, attended by former, current and future beneficiaries as well as supporters of the Endeavour Fund, Prince Harry spoke of the plan to use existing Endeavour Fund alumni to seek out those harder-to-reach Service personnel and veterans and engage them on inspirational challenges. The Alumni will be tasked with reaching out to those men and women who are still struggling to come to terms with life after injury and who would benefit the most from being involved with an endeavour.
During a prolonged period of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, the UK Armed Forces experienced nearly 15,000 casualties, over 10% of which suffered life changing injuries. Since its launch in 2012, the Endeavour Fund has supported more than 950 Servicemen and women on 21 different endeavours in 13 nations across four continents. Many of these participants lived with uncertainty about the future in a community they struggled to integrate with. Others reported that being medically discharged had a real affect on their self-esteem and how they defined themselves as a person.
Taking part in an endeavour has a far wider reaching impact than simply leading to increased confidence and a better transition back into civilian life. The Endeavour Fund aims to support endeavours that lead to a better onward transition – those that provide recognised qualifications, work experience or channels into employment.
In support of this vision, today’s event was also an opportunity to announce that AIG, the global insurance company, has signed up as the lead corporate partner of the Endeavour Fund for the next three years. As part of this partnership, AIG will provide financial assistance and additional support to help develop and execute new endeavours over the next three years.
In the next six months, the Endeavour Fund will see the first all-amputee team row across the Atlantic Ocean with Row 2 Recovery, 25 wounded veterans will be introduced to adaptive skiing with Skiing with Heroes and will welcome home Henry Worsley after he crosses Antarctica solo and unsupported.
Guests at the event also heard from Chris Herbert who was wounded in Iraq in 2007 serving with the Yorkshire Regiment. He lost his leg when an IED detonated by his vehicle whilst three other soldiers were wounded (and one sadly lost his life). Following his injury, Chris became involved with Toe in the Water, which uses competitive sailing to re-inspire profoundly and traumatically injured servicemen and women to see beyond their injuries, and perform to their limits regardless of physical condition.
Chris Herbert, who took part in several competitive races including Cowes Week, explains: “After I was injured, I felt extremely lost and angry with the world. Getting involved with Toe in the Water was my catharsis. Once again, I was back in a team environment, with people who understood what I had and was going through and could support me in this difficult transitional period. This supportive environment helped me to change how I defined myself and my outlook on my future.”
Prince Harry, said in his speech: “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 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 alumni are ideally placed to help these ‘hard to reach’ individuals rediscover their sense of purpose through sport.”
John Doyle, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, AIG commented: “It’s an honour for AIG to be associated with the Endeavour Fund. The work they do in supporting the recovery of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women to rediscover their self-belief through physical challenges is not just admirable, it is inspiring.
“As an insurer, AIG is committed to reducing its customers’ fear of the future, which is exactly what the Endeavour Fund does so powerfully for veterans and their families.”
Since its launch in 2012, the 21 endeavours have collectively raised £1.9m for other forces charities.