Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A sensible reason to do a crazy thing - climbing Kilimanjaro

Every so often a charity comes along that really captures the imagination and far exceeds its original ambitions.

Live Aid was a classic example of a cause that raised millions of pounds – as well as a great deal of awareness – and now the Help For Heroes charity has done exactly the same.

I was reminded of the remarkable impact of this charity on Tuesday morning when The Bath Chronicle business breakfast featured Chris Kane, a solicitor from Withy King, who explained how he and 40 other people (the majority of whom are from Bath) will soon be heading to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro.

Chris had been recruited to the trek by Bath Rugby favourite David Barnes and it was clear that the motivation to support Help For Heroes was one that has really spurred him on.

The reason Help For Heroes has been such a phenomenal success – and phenomenal is not too big a word as it has raised nearly £100m in just under four years – is that the charity has no interest in the rights or wrongs of wars and conflicts but cares passionately about the young men and women who are sent away, in our name, to take part in battles and often come back seriously injured.

The Government does do a lot to help, of course, but to give these people the first class treatment they truly deserve requires vast sums of extra money – and the public has seen that and responded.

Chris spoke very eloquently about the charity and its work but, as so often happens, it was the power of the images he showed in a special film which really told the story. We saw young men – some of whom looked barely old enough to vote – bravely coming to terms with losing limbs or being scarred for life.

These physical images were easy to convey but what the film also highlighted was the huge psychological damage conflicts can produce. This was a fact most vividly brought home when Chris revealed that more servicemen and women who fought in the Falklands have committed suicide since that conflict than died in the war itself.

Help for Heroes was set up by South West couple Bryn and Emma Parry to help every one of our returning serviceman, and so each time someone puts a pound in a box it can help make those folk realise their sacrifice was not in vain.

So I wish Chris, David and all the rest of their team every success on their epic journey which begins a fortnight today in the heat of Tanzania.

For all of them it will be a life-changing experience and I hope they take comfort from the fact that it could also be a life-changing – and possibly life-saving – experience for many of the servicemen and women their superb efforts will support.

Find our more about the climb at, follow its progress on Twitter (@axawealthclimb), or sponsor Chris at kilimanjaroJune2011.

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