Wounded warriors - let's show our support for Ukrainian armed forces veterans
Ahead of the Warrior Games, from 19-28 August, we have been supporting charities Blind Veterans UK and Bravo Victor, in their efforts to ensure the Ukrainian armed forces veterans can compete and represent their nation.
Four weeks ago, an unmarked British plane landed at an airfield near Poland’s border with Ukraine. A team of soldiers, who had been fighting on the front line against Russia, were whisked on board.
Following a UK training camp at Blind Veterans UK’s Centre in Brighton, the team will be flown to Florida, USA next week, joining elite athletes from across the armed services to compete in adaptive sports, celebrating their resilience and ability as wounded warriors. The majority of the Ukrainian athletes will then return to the front line.
For the Ukraine, the competition is not about winning medals but reminding the world that the country needs continued support from its international allies to win the war.
The team had been fundraising for the games but they donated any money raised to the war effort, however President Zelensky did not want them to give up on their dream of competing in the USA.
Professor Renata Gomes, of veterans’ research organisation Bravo Victor remembers the call with President Zelensky: “We want for the first time ever to take part in the Warrior Games but everything is destroyed. We have no money. We have nothing. Some of our warriors don’t even have the shoes to run in.”
We have made a business donation to support the training camp, through our relationship with Blind Veterans UK, and our Strategic Advisor for Defence, Major-General Seumas Kerr CBE and Business Change Manager, Guy Fairweather, went to meet the Ukrainian veterans in Brighton last week. Guy described the visit as ‘an inspirational and moving experience’.
The athletes have also been to visit 10 Downing Street to thank Boris Johnson for his support.
Lesley Garven, manager of the Blind Veterans UK centre in Brighton says: “As we were driving through London there were lots of Ukrainian flags flying and the team became quite emotional. They never realised the British people would support them in this way.”
Watch a short film on the Ukrainian team’s extraordinary journey to the Warrior Games here