Over 40 military veterans travelled to Wiltshire this week for the annual ‘Phoenix Winter Games’ hosted by Help for Heroes.
The week kicked off with 15 Alaskan Malamutes pulling team members in a Sled Dog race. The participants rode down a 30m chute hoping to achieve the fastest time and bring their team to victory.
Among the competitors was Jill Collins, a Royal Navy veteran who lives in Andover. Jill said “This is my second year at the Phoenix Winter Games and it’s absolutely amazing. The dogs are amazing to work with. I think the games are lovely, it’s great camaraderie. I can’t wait for the rest of the week.” Jill was injured whilst serving and broke her back and injured her leg – “I was a physical training instructor for years so getting involved in things like this and being around the team is great.”
The Games, which are themed around the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, will bring together service personnel and veterans from across the UK.
The 5-days of grassroots level sports gives those involved the opportunity to be a part of a team again, something that is often missed when leaving the military.
Participants will represent the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre they attend; Tedworth House in Tidworth, Chavasse VC in Colchester, Phoenix House in Catterick and the Naval Service Recovery Centre in Plymouth.
Paul Randall, Centre Manager at Help for Heroes said, “The Games are designed to bring together wounded, injured and sick veterans and service personnel in a friendly yet competitive environment, where they can re-experience the camaraderie and social environment of the military.”
“Sport can be a huge part of the recovery journey for an individual, giving them a sense of purpose and empowering them to challenge themselves. The Games are a fantastic example of what military personnel can achieve post injury.”
The rest of the week will include Ice Hockey, Clay Shooting, Skiing and Curling. The winning team will be celebrated at an awards dinner on Thursday 22nd February.