Nine members of the Armed Forces Community who were injured or fell ill in service, but have gone on to use sport or adventurous challenge as part of their recovery and rehabilitation will be honoured at the 2019 Endeavour Fund Awards.
The Endeavour Fund is a programme led by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The fund says it plays an important role in ensuring that more of those injured in service have the opportunity to rediscover their self-belief and fighting spirit through physical challenges.
There are three nominees for each award. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex chaired the judging panel which has decided the final winners, who will be announced at the Endeavour Fund Awards ceremony on Thursday 7 February.
Amy Klepacz was selected as a nominee after being discharged from the RAF with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and rediscovered accomplishment by completing the Munda Biddi Trail, 1,000 miles of off-road cycling across Western Australia with 65 Degrees North.
Amy was a nurse in the RAF for seven years and was unfortunately diagnosed with (PTSD) from seeing so many severe wounds and injuries in the field. She was medically discharged and at first her condition was so bad she was unable to do anything.
Amy was encouraged to engage with a small organisation called 65 Degrees North who invited her to join a cycling expedition to Australia. Whilst there, she found that it had left her mind clearer than it had been for three years. It was in the Pyrenees that her extra-ordinary physical condition became apparent.
Amy said: "The endeavour has re-invigorated a positive outlook of the world, progressing me from a life of existence to a life worth living for again."
Daisy served in the Royal Artillery for eight years but was medically discharged due to injuries sustained and subsequent complications with her injury.
She was at an all-time low when she was invited to a powerboat experience day, soon after she passed race training school and completed her debut race, which is the UK series toughest offshore race. Here she took third place and her first bronze medal.
Daisy said: "Being injured in the military stripped my confidence and self-belief; and it’s through the power of the endeavour that I’ve been able to rebuild it.
"I’ve been in full time employment since I left and no longer feel worthless.
"With no racing this year my focus has been elsewhere, my enjoyment now comes from inspiring, mentoring and supporting others; using sport as a platform to aid veterans’ recovery and transition to the next chapter in their lives."
Darren served in the British Army for ten years, before being medically discharged in 1992 as a result of injuries received in an IED explosion whilst he was in Northern Ireland. He lost both legs above the knee, and two fingers and received various other blast injuries.
With the support of the Armed Forces Para Snowsport Team (AFPST), he began snowboarding, challenging perceptions on what was possible.
His journey took him around the world, competing on the World Cups for Great Britain, where he made a huge impact.
Darren said: "Having the tremendous support of the Endeavour Fund has been instrumental in my development as an adaptive snowboarder and enabling me to pass on skills in the development of other amputees and people with disabilities who wish to participate in the sport at any level."
Josh was in Afghanistan serving with the Royal Engineers as a member of a high-risk search team tasked with locating and disposing of hidden explosives and IEDs. Josh stepped on an IED and lost both his legs above the knee and his right arm below the elbow.
Josh learnt to walk again and in 2016, he learnt how to dive and in 2017, was encouraged to join Deptherapy by a former engineer.
Josh quickly impressed the Deptherapy instructional team with his no-nonsense approach towards the standards he would have to meet and how he would achieve them as a triple amputee. He soon completed his PADI Advanced Open Water and Deep Courses.
Josh said: “The Ocean terrifies me, every time I go down I think I am going to be attacked by something bigger than me, but this is why I do it, it takes me out of my comfort zone and puts me in a position where I am constantly being challenged. Doing these endeavours is helping me to overcome that fear and to prove people wrong when they question how a Triple Amputee can be a rescue diver.”
Kelly Ganfield was selected as a nominee after she became involved in sport again to overcome a condition which turned her life upside down. Kelly was diagnosed with a blood condition that meant she was medically discharged from the army. The condition caused strokes which left Kelly with serious and long-term physical, psychological and social impacts on her health, including loss of her sight.
Kelly began running to raise money for Blind Veterans UK and completed the London Marathon in 2015. In 2017, Kelly, along with her guide and training partner, got selected by UK Armed Forces Team for Invictus Toronto and took part in indoor rowing and athletics. She then set her sights on Invictus again in 2018 and competed in indoor rowing, long jump, 100m, and 200m. She was for the second time, the only visually impaired athlete to compete.
Kelly said: “The Invictus Games has changed my life. I now realise the biggest barrier I face is me. Invictus has helped me to believe in myself and my own abilities again.”
Kevin Carr was selected as a nominee after using endeavours to help him through serious mental health issues and his struggle with life after leaving the military.
Kevin was medically discharged from the army in 2004, a difficult transition followed that included relationship breakdown, housing difficulties and serious issues with his mental health. He questioned his own existence and considered taking his life. Fortunately, he was taken to hospital and put in touch with The Beacon - a specialist veterans centre- where he now lives. It was here that Kevin was introduced to Walking With The Wounded and the endeavours that he used to rediscover his sense of self and rebuild his life.
Kevin said: “To sum it up, I’ve been waking up lately and actually looking forward to the day ahead, rather than worrying about what’s going to happen. The Walk Of America has taught me so much and given me a new lease of life. I’m excited for the future again.”
Mark Brightwell was selected as a nominee after being medically discharged from The British Army and using Climb2Recovery (C2R) to help with his own recovery, but also to help those of other C2R participants.
Mark was unfortunately injured by a piece of shrapnel that travelled through his hand whilst serving in Afghanistan. The shrapnel destroyed his knuckle and injured his fingers. After being discharged, Mark was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress, which he continues to manage.
Mark said: “The Endeavour Fund, via its support of Climb2Recovery, has allowed me to experience the positive feelings associated with a healthy, reciprocal relationship with the WIS community. What I love about Climb2Recovery is that whilst it is something to which I very willingly and readily give, it is also an organisation that values its people and wants to invest in them. This is a very special feeling. It effectively motivates me to give and do more. The fact that I have been morally and financially supported through a professional qualification gives me not only a sense of personal achievement but of being valued and cared for. Someone once said to me that we all need to feel three things in order to feel happy: Competent, Significant, Loved. Climb2Recovery delivers on all three.”
Nathan Forster was selected as a nominee after using his drive and focus in Flying for Freedom to overcome his injury and start on a new path to rebuild his life. In only five years, Nathan has gone from having no experience of flying, to commercially flying 737’s.
Nathan was blown up whilst serving with the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan. His lower limb injuries meant he had to work hard to keep his leg, which many thought would have to be amputated in order to reduce long term pain, allow normal movement and retain quality of life. Nathan got involved with Flying for Freedom as soon as he could, and it was the one thing that really helped him in his recovery. Nathan discovered a passion and natural aptitude for flying microlights and soon gained his pilot’s license.
Nathan said: “With the help and support of the endeavour fund I have been able to completely rebuild my life after injury and achieve a childhood ambition I had never thought possible.”
Shaun Pascoe was selected as a nominee after using sailing to help him out of a dark time and then setting up Turn to Starboard to help other veterans.
Shaun’s military career involved being a Nurse in the RAF and being an Officer commanding RAF Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) onboard an aircraft in highly kinetic zones. After completing numerous tours around the world, Shaun was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress in 2012. It completely changed his life and he experienced some dark moments. As he approached his last year in service, Shaun decided to spend his resettlement time and money on a Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster Offshore course. After sailing for two weeks, he felt in a better place.
Shaun said: “For me, skippering Spirit for the first Round Britain was an immense challenge not only in a personal sense but managing the unique needs of the individuals on board and the conditions we faced on a traditional vessel. I have no doubt that the experience of being with those people for such a long period of time had a profound effect on how we took Turn to Starboard forward and has shaped the way that we meet the needs of so many now. On a personal level, it began the process of me driving forward and affirmed for me what can be achieved with a little determination and focus. Taking on endeavours helps us to feel value and to feel once again that we belong. Setting this personal challenge is important. They also help us build resilience which is key to achieving our aims. Working together with The Endeavour Fund makes this possible.”