Dear All,

I am currently trying to get sponsorship in aid of BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association).

Next month, our team of 4 will be taking part in the Arctic Team Challenge www.atc.gl/ ; a 250Km race over 5 days in Greenland, consisting of Mountain trekking, Mountain biking, Kayaking and Glacier trekking. The course includes over 10,000 metres of vertical ascent.

The Charity we have chosen to support for this event is BLESMA.

Whilst working as a Medical Officer at Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, it was moving to see the number of young servicemen coming back missing limbs as a result of their service overseas. For these people, the transition from being extremely fit and active to living with a disability is a hard contrast to get used to both mentally and physically.

It was often these guys who were reported as "also injured" in the press who were the ones that had lost limbs and you never heard about again. Unfortunately, "also injured" is deemed by most of the public to mean "got away with a few cuts and bruises". Difficult to stomach when a lot of them are in their teens and early twenties.

BLESMA is a charity that helps to ensure that they get the best possible support in their lives:

“Over two thousand surviving Ex-Service men and women have lost one or more limbs as a result of World War II, Korea, Suez, Aden, The Falklands, The Gulf, Northern Ireland and in support of the United Nations. For them the fight still goes on; to hold their own in the battle of life with a handicap which must always be theirs. Additionally BLESMA continues to care for some 2000 Widows.

BLESMA's Welfare Service is assisted by 36 Branches throughout the United Kingdom, manned by individuals all of whom give their services voluntarily, and work to ensure that no service limbless or immediate dependants shall needlessly suffer additional anxiety or hardship. The State machinery can handle this problem only in general terms. BLESMA concerns itself with INDIVIDUAL cases.”

There are 42 soldiers who have lost limbs in the last 3 years (Iraq + Afghanistan).

They have got 1700 members who have lost limbs through conflict and 4700 members in total including widows, non-conflict injuries etc.

These are just the figures from BLESMA - there are still ex-forces amputees who don't know about BLESMA and aren't registered with them.

I have set up a page at www.justgiving.com/ashokrao - this is a quick and easy way to sponsor me online.

This worthy cause needs to raise over £1m each year to keep up the excellent work they do in supporting our injured servicemen so please be as generous as you can.

Many thanks,


...and, Ash can you keep us informed of progress leading up to the event.

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