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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
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Supporting veterans in our communities

National Lottery funding has helped former soldier, Micky Yule, in becoming the British Para-Powerlifting Champion.

The National Lottery

4 min read Partner content

As we mark Remembrance Day across the country today, we look at three stories from veterans and National Lottery-funded projects that have benefited from over £339 million in vital funding.

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, over £339 million has been awarded to more than 28,000 National Lottery Good Cause projects supporting veterans in the UK.

Simon Harmer, a former British Army medic, suffered life-changing injuries while on patrol in Helmand Province in October 2009 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both legs. Within 2 months of sustaining his injuries Simon, 44, was able to stand on prosthetic legs. The speed of his recovery, he said, was a result of his own determination, the encouragement of other injured soldiers at the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey and the expertise of the medical staff looking after him.

Since leaving the Army in 2014, he has used his hard-won experience to talk about resilience and overcoming adversity to audiences at schools, universities, prisons and corporations. 

Simon says National Lottery-funded organisations like The Royal British Legion, SSAFA and Blesma – a charity devoted to helping servicemen and women who have lost limbs – play a vital role in assisting veterans through a range of initiatives including community activities, memorial visits and employment and welfare advice.

Now aiming to swim an Ice Mile, a feat that takes place in water that is less than 5 degrees celsius, he said, “Some people let things get in the way of living. I wanted to be an example to the rest of the society to show that life doesn’t have to end with something that could be a life changing injury. It’s about cracking on with your life and finding solutions.”

Also to benefit from National Lottery funding is Trafford Veterans, which was started in May 2015 by Claire Wright and her partner Chris Squires - both of whom served in the Armed Forces.

After leaving the Royal Navy and Army respectively, they had very different experiences transitioning to civilian life, facing mental health challenges including undiagnosed PTSD. Instead, they decided to use their hard won experience to help others in similar situations.

Supporting veterans is just one of many National Lottery funding areas - none of which would be possible without National Lottery players.

What originally started as little more than a table covered with leaflets about the support available in Greater Manchester to former members of the Armed Forces and the emergency services has since blossomed thanks to National Lottery funding to include a breakfast club, a model and craft group, a walking football team, an allotment group and a regular community drop-in session.

The group has also adapted its approach to helping their community of veterans - the oldest of whom is 99 -  cope with the lockdown and its aftermath.

Supported by a grant from The National Lottery’s £600 million coronavirus emergency fund, Trafford Veterans has been working flat out to get help to those who need it most. Speaking in October Claire said, “For the past 30 weeks we’ve been delivering groceries, hot meals and puzzle books as well as doing welfare checks.” 

National Lottery funding has also helped former soldier, Micky Yule, in becoming the British Para-Powerlifting Champion. Micky was serving with The Royal Engineers in Afghanistan in July 2010 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. He immediately lost his left leg and had his badly damaged right leg removed at Camp Bastion.

Micky admits he spent some “black days and nights” contemplating his future after he sustained his injury. But before long he became determined to use sport to drive his rehabilitation. He said, “I watched the London Paralympics from the crowd and made myself a promise that the next time there was a Paralympics Opening Ceremony, I would be at it.”

Like every athlete on the World Class Programme, Micky is supported by money from The National Lottery. He said the funding made possible by players like you has played an essential part in helping him compete at the highest level of his sport.

Micky said, “I wouldn’t have been able to commit to full time training without that support. It helps fund the coaches, the physios and the service staff. I don’t see how Paralympic sport could exist without The National Lottery.”

Micky is currently preparing for the Tokyo Paralympics. His commitment is as unwavering as it was when he vowed to use sport – and powerlifting in particular – as the focus of his recovery from the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan.

“My attitude was – and still is – I’m going to give this 100 percent, I’m not going to quit. I’ll either make it or I won’t, but I won’t ever quit.”

Supporting veterans is just one of many National Lottery funding areas - none of which would be possible without National Lottery players.

By playing The National Lottery, players raise around £30 million for Good Causes every week - we salute you!


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Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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