In the first of a series of blogs about The Wigley Group Golf Day and Gala Dinner, taking place on July 19 this year, Stephen Cooper, Director of Support Our Paras, reflects on the event’s contribution to the charity.
Our relationship with The Wigley Group has resulted in more than £80,000 being raised for the Parachute Regiment charity Support Our Paras – and their target is to hit the magic £100,000 milestone this year, which would be fantastic.
Every time I attend The Wigley Group Golf Open & Gala Dinner, it is very clear from seeing the same people year in, year out at the event that it is very much part of the social calendar in this part of the world. It’s quite visible that it is a bunch of people really enjoying a great day and night out which is run very well and in a very relaxed and informal style – and with a sprinkling of sporting stardust – and showing their generosity towards the charity.
Support Our Paras does what it says on the tin. We support our Paras in whatever way they need to be supported. Our key focus is the soldier and family welfare. They could have been wounded in action, have mental health issues, be in financial distress or, have a child in need of urgent medical treatment.
The Wigley Group took a very enlightened approach when they launched The Wigley Support Fund as an initiative with us last year to focus on retraining soldiers. We provide a lot of training at the point of transition and what The Wigley Support Fund does is recognise that sometimes people have a false start in their move from military to civilian life and need help.
The effect of the transition varies enormously and can come as a huge shock. Many soldiers left school as early as they could and one reason for joining the Army may have been school performance. As a result, the only life they have known as an adult is in the Army: it clothes them, feeds them, gives them accommodation and tells them what to do and when. When they leave, those things that you and I have learned and take for granted – such as writing a CV or a job application -can come as a complete shock. We help them over that shock. Our focus tends to be on those who are at a greater disadvantage for reasons of medical discharge, but not exclusively.
If you don’t look after people at that point it can lead to some unfortunate consequences. It is thought that some 10 per cent of the prison population are ex-armed forces. If we don’t help as best we can to make a successful transition, it can go badly wrong.
One thing that I have noticed is that it’s now four years since the Army ceased combat operations of Afghanistan, and the Regiment ’s last tour was a couple of years before that. Casualties in the Armed Forces are, thankfully, no longer headline news and the public has moved onto other concerns. That’s why we really do hugely appreciate the long-term support of organisations like The Wigley Group, and those who support their fundraising. They understand the very real need – and I can’t over-estimate just how important and enduring it is.
The Wigley Group Golf Open & Gala Dinner takes place on Thursday, July 19 at the De Vere Staverton Estate, near Daventry. To enter the golf open and/or attend the dinner, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out about sponsorship opportunities, contact email@example.com