Workers at leading retail chain Debenhams have been praised for raising £2m to provide lifelong support to wounded, injured or sick service personnel and veterans.
The money was raised for Help for Heroes during a four-year campaign at stores across the country which included marathons, “Tough Mudder” challenges, bake-offs, bike rides and raffles.
Fundraising in the Midlands region was spearheaded by Darren Kay, who is based at the Debenhams store on the Ravenside retail park in Chesterfield.
Over the past six months, regional director Darren has helped to organise a series of fundraising events that have raised in excess of £29,000.
He also cycled more than 350 miles on a static bike at stores across the region to boost the appeal.
Darren said: “We are delighted to have raised the £2m. Everyone in store has been a passionate supporter of Help for Heroes and this milestone is a testament to their hard work and dedication. One of the highlights for me was our ‘Super Saturday’ fundraiser which ran across 51 stores. The event was a great success and raised £13,000 in a single day showing how much Help for Heroes resonates with the general public as a worthy cause.
“I had the honour of seeing the difference the money makes when I visited Tedworth House, one of the charity’s recovery centres. I got to hear first-hand from the beneficiaries and saw how the charity changes lives. The experience made it all real for me and spurred me on to do everything I could to support the charity.”
In addition to the fundraising, Debenhams has launched a new in-store get-together programme that provides a safe space for family members of those affected by military service to meet up and find local support networks.
Gemma Morgan, a Help for Heroes Ambassador who has received support for post-traumatic stress as a result of her military service, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to Debenhams because the help and support it gives for Help for Heroes and the Veterans is incredible.
“The charity allows us to step forward and is pivotal in our recovery. When I left the military in 2002 there was no support. I knew I was unwell and those years of having no safe space to reach out to was incredibly isolating.
“The last two years, by having that space to be able to go and be welcomed, has allowed me to feel like I belong again. For me personally it has been transformational and I know other veterans would say the same.”
Mel Waters, CEO of Help for Heroes, said: “The fundraising effort by Debenhams has been nothing short of incredible and I would like to thank each and every employee who has played their part in raising the £2m.
“This donation continues to make a real and tangible difference to our beneficiaries and their families in providing comprehensive support for complex needs around physical injury, well-being and mental health.
“Without the support of organisations such as Debenhams, Help for Heroes would not be able to carry out the vital work that allows us to rebuild lives and help our beneficiaries lead fulfilling and independent lives.
“Our work remains entirely reliant on donations and we are humbled and truly grateful for all the support we receive that changes the lives of our Heroes for the better.”