David Wiseman, Head of Armed Forces programme at The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, on remembering Henry Worsley and how his legacy will enable the Endeavour Fund to support even more wounded, injured and sick Servicer personnel and veterans
Almost a year ago to this day we tragically lost Henry Worsley. A man who showed great courage, determination and strength. A man who represented all the values for which the Endeavour Fund stands.
Henry Worsley was attempting something that no one had done before – an incredible journey of human endurance to cross the entire Antarctic continent through the Pole, solo and unsupported. After several weeks on the ice, Henry fell desperately ill and despite being rescued he died a short while later in hospital in Chile.
Henry, himself a career soldier, was driven to take part in this particular expedition by the motivation to raise funds for his brothers in arms who had become injured throughout their time in the Armed Forces. We were honoured when he chose to donate any money raised through his efforts to the the Endeavour Fund.
Tonight we will be hosting the inaugural Endeavour Fund Awards Ceremony where hundreds will gather to showcase and celebrate just some of the successes from across a range of sporting and adventurous challenges undertaken by injured Service personnel and veterans. And as part of tonight’s event, we have named our top prize in honour of Henry Worsley as a small part of his legacy and to recognise his support to the Armed Forces Community.
The Henry Worsley Award will be presented to the individual who has best inspired others through the demonstration of determination in the face of adversity, whilst endeavouring to support others with their recovery through sport or adventurous challenge. This award will go to a person who not only succeeded in their own efforts, but has worked hard to ensure others have achieved theirs alongside them.
But Henry’s legacy doesn’t end tonight. Tonight’s special evening will also be a chance for us to look on some fantastic endeavours from the past year and look forward to exciting future projects in 2017, many of which will happen thanks to Henry’s selfless actions.
It has been a remarkable few years for the Endeavour Fund and I am so proud of what we have achieved. We’ve supported 39 different projects that have directly helped close to 1,500 wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans.
Prior to engaging with sport, many of these men and women felt defined by their injuries, limited by their new situation and struggled with the often sudden move from military to civilian life. Over the years, I have seen how involvement with various endeavours has literally changed lives. Some of these challenges have been huge, such as competing in the Invictus Games or taking one one of the world’s toughest rows. Others have been smaller, more personal and more bespoke such as setting up running clubs or learning to fly microlights.
What do they all have in common? They have helped these men and women rediscover their fighting spirit, improve their self-esteem and discover a new purpose in life. Many have experienced increased job or work opportunities and have had the new-found confidence to grasp them. They have joined teams, established lasting and meaningful support networks and developed new skills and passions in life.
These experiences in sport have pushed people to engage wholeheartedly in rehabilitation, have pushed them to create new, positive identities post injury and pushed them to achieve goals that everyone previously thought impossible; all whilst pulling them into positive and supportive team environments.
I am constantly inspired by these men and women who refuse to be defined by their perceived limitations and instead make every effort to turn negative situations into positive outcomes.
I believe the stories behind these recovery journeys and subsequent sporting feats are truly motivational, not just for the armed forces community, but hopefully for everyone. All of us experience difficult periods in our lives, times when we feel we’ve lost that sense of purpose. Last year we outlined our vision for the Endeavour Fund and our aim to target those who are harder to reach and who would most benefit from being involved in a sporting activity or adventure challenge. I am proud that The Endeavour Fund is delivering this vision every day. I hope that tonight’s event inspires many more wounded warriors to start their journey to recovery – there is certainly a real support network ready to help them take that first step.
So tonight will be a particularly significant moment for the Endeavour Fund as we bring together many of these stories together to celebrate their achievements. Tonight will also be an opportunity for the Endeavour Fund to thank all participants for having the courage to take the positive steps to get involved and stay involved in sport and adventurous challenge. This growing community has helped so many, through sport, to carve out a new life, a new direction and a new definition of self – proving to themselves and everyone else that beyond injury, we can still achieve the extraordinary.