Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind ex-Service men and women, is urging all young people to sign up for its Cadet and Youth Challenge Competition which is an exciting, exhilarating and memorable way to help promote teamwork and leadership skills as well as raise awareness about the work of the charity.
Originally designed to attract cadet groups, this competition challenges young people between 10 and 18 to cover a distance of 13.1 miles (the distance of a half marathon), in whatever way they would like. Examples have included all manner of activities, from cycle rides to treks to blind folded walks. Certificates and medals are to be had by all and prizes are up for grabs for the most inventive challenge as well as outstanding adult instructor!
Before participating in the competition, inspirational members of Blind Veterans UK such Simon Brown, who was shot in the head whilst saving the lives of six comrades in Basra, southern Iraq, will visit all groups to talk about the work of the charity and promote the necessary team spirit and drive to win!
After it has happened, they will revisit the group to find out how the challenge has gone and present the participants with certificates. Participating groups are supported by the charity throughout the process, and will all have the chance to be entered into the national competition which judges entries for originality, creativity and resourcefulness.
Flight Lieutenant Andrew Nickson RAFVR(T) and the 177(Blackpool Airport) Squadron Air Training Corps have been taking part in Blind Veterans UK’s Cadet and Youth Challenge Competition since it began in 2007. His groups have been national competition winners three times, and he has even won an award for adult volunteer of the year.
Over the years the squadron has organised all manner of activities, from a sponsored ‘bed push’ (pictured above) which saw his group push a hospital bed dressed up to look like the cross between a ship, aircraft and tank across the 13.1 mile distance, to a blind folded walk to Blackpool Tower, at which the distance was covered by walking to the tower, walking back again and going up and down the lift inside the tower 70 times in-between!
Andrew said: “We have had a fantastic time taking part in Blind Veterans UK’s Cadet and Youth Challenge Competition. It has given us all the opportunity to meet some great people from the charity as well as to learn about all that it does.
“All of the cadets loved it, and it was good to know that they were raising money for such an important cause at the same time. As a military charity, Blind Veterans UK is part of the ‘British military family’, so to speak, which has a lot of meaning for cadets.”
Colin Williamson, who manages the Cadet and Youth Challenge Competition, said: “We urge anyone and everyone aged between 10 and 18 to take part in the Cadet and Youth Challenge Competition to raise awareness and funds in aid of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity that provides a lifetime’s practical and emotional support to blind veterans, regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.
“Not only is the challenge a very fun and exciting way to do something for charity and promote the work of Blind Veterans UK, but as well as this the challenges can go towards a BTEC first diploma in public services and are endorsed by the Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation.”
Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Dunstan’s, has been providing support and rehabilitation to blind veterans since 1915.
Simon Brown is one such blind veteran. Simon was 28 when he was shot in the head whilst saving the lives of six comrades in Basra, southern Iraq. He survived, but the damage to his face was catastrophic. His heroic act in battle led to a long, difficult recovery and it took many pioneering operations to rebuild his face. Thanks to Blind Veterans UK which gave him support and training, he now lives independently, has gained educational qualifications and works as Memberships Officer and motivational speaker for the charity.
Simon said: “The real benefit of a cadet group, any type of youth group or just young people generally taking part in the Cadet and Youth Challenge Competition is that it helps to raise awareness about the work of Blind Veterans UK amongst people who may have no idea of its work.
“It is also an excellent way of getting young people together to raise money in aid of charity, and really understand where money raised will go. Past participants have said that they have learnt so many new skills too and that it is just a really fun day out”.
To find out more you can be sent an information pack by contacting Colin Williamson, Blind Veterans UK Cadet and Youth Challenge Project Officer, at Colin.Williamson@blindveterans.org.uk or by visiting http://www.blindveterans.org.uk/how-you-can-help/fundraise/military-events/cadet-challenge/