Sunday, June 13, 2010

Every Day Heroes

Dog unit army major among Queen's honours

Maj Christopher Ham
Maj Ham paid tribute to "the work done
by all the members of the unit"

An army major who set up a unit of dogs trained to sniff out explosives in Afghanistan is among the military personnel recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Maj Christopher Ham founded the Rutland-based 104 Military Working Dog Support Unit. He is made an MBE.

Maj Phil Packer, injured in Iraq, is also made an MBE for his fundraising.

And Navy Warrant Officer Andy Collings is made an MBE for supporting bereaved families.

Dogs play an important role in military missions overseas - particularly in sniffing out improvised explosive devices.

Treo, a black Labrador based at the North Luffenham barracks in Rutland, was this year awarded the Dickin Medal - the animal version of the Victoria Cross - for twice finding hidden bombs in Helmand province.


Maj Ham, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, said the MBE rewarded the efforts made my those in the dog team.

"It's fantastic that the work done by all the members of the unit, both civilian and military, who set it up from scratch have been fully recognised," he said.

Wounded veteran Maj Packer, 37, who was left paralysed from the waist down by a rocket attack in Iraq in 2008, said he was "humbled" to learn of his MBE.

Andy Collings
Andy Collings: MBE for his role
supporting bereaved families

In six months last year he rowed the English Channel, walked the London Marathon in 14 days and scaled El Capitan by completing 4,250 pull-ups.

He has raised more than £1.3m, earning him the BBC Sports Personality of the Year's Helen Rollason Award.

This year he has already climbed the Three Peaks for Sport Relief in 72 hours and completed the London marathon in under 26 hours.

He said: "I am honoured and deeply humbled to receive such recognition. The support I have given to our injured was a natural path during my own personal journey. ...

And there is more on these heroes here.

Family affair became £50m charity

Former soldier Bryn Parry and his wife Emma have been appointed OBEs for voluntary service to the armed forces, through their charity Help for Heroes.

What started as a bicycle ride to raise £10,000 for wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen has become a full-time job and labour of love for the couple.

In less than three years, their charity has funded support for injured service personnel to the tune of £50m and commanded the backing of royalty.

Mr Parry, 53, described the appointments as a "great honour", although he admitted to being embarrassed when he first found out.

"It's very awkward when you consider all the things that other people have been doing," he said.

"Help for Heroes would not exist without the hundreds of thousands of other people who have actually done something."

Still, their drive and vision has focused the efforts of their army of fundraisers.

Mrs Parry, 50, is a soldier's daughter. Her husband comes from a long line of soldiers and served for 10 years in the Royal Green Jackets. Both understood the sacrifices made by members of the forces.

Bryn Parry

People were concerned about the politics - we said it's not about the rights and wrongs of war, it's about a 22-year-old boy who's had his legs blown off

Bryn Parry

They set up the charity in October 2007, inspired by a visit to see wounded military patients at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital.

After speaking to then head of the Army, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, they revised their modest target to a staggering £8m to build a swimming pool at the Headley Court military rehabilitation centre in Surrey.

Mr Parry said he and his wife had a feeling that the charity would tap into pent-up public sentiment in support of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan....

More on these every day heroes here.

Thanks to all for their service.

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