- LBdr Ben Parkinson MBEPatron
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson 7 (Para) RHA who lost both legs in Afghanistan and was once dubbed the most seriously injured serviceman ever to survive the battlefield. His injuries were so appalling doctors said he would never walk or talk again, however they didn’t take into account the determination of a 26 yr old Yorkshire man who has gone on to inspire others by his achievements including carrying the Olympic torch in his home town of Doncaster. And with the Pilgrim Bandits most recently, kayaking over 250 miles of the Yukon river in Canada.
“I’m very proud to be Patron of the Pilgrim Bandits Charity. They don’t do sympathy and when they say get up to the top of that hill you get up there as quickly as possible ”
- Gen Sir John Learmont KCB CBEPatron
General Sir John Learmont KCB CBE, QM-General of the Army (rtd)
‘It is a great honour to be invited to be an Ambassador for the Pilgrim Bandits Charity. I have nothing but the highest admiration for the courage and determination shown by so many of our badly wounded servicemen and women. For me this is exemplified by the spirit of adventure and refusal to give in to adversity shown by L/Bdr Ben Parkinson, whom I have been privileged to meet and whose CO in 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery was my youngest son James. I salute Ben and all who are members of the Pilgrim Bandits Charity and marvel at their exploits.’
- Rt Honourable Dr Julian LewisPatron
Dr Julian Lewis, Conservative Member of Parliament for New Forest East has joined the Charity as a Patron, Julian is the Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. He was elected to this post by his fellow MPs in June 2015, shortly after being elected as the Conservative MP for New Forest East, in Hampshire, for the fifth time since 1997. In September 2010, the Prime Minister appointed him to the Intelligence and Security Committee for five years and, in October 2014, he was additionally elected as a member of the Defence Select Committee. From November 2002 until May 2010, he was the Shadow Defence Minister for the Royal Navy, the nuclear deterrent and strategic issues. He held this post continuously, except for a period as Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office between September 2004 and the May 2005 General Election. Julian was appointed to the Privy Council in March 2015.
“I am delighted to become Patron for the Pilgrim Bandits.” Explains Julian “I have watched with interest how the charity has developed over the recent years; championing new ideas for our injured, working with underprivileged youngsters, alongside their extreme challenges. The charity’s No Sympathy ethos instills confidence and self-belief in men and women with the most appalling injuries and encourages them to share experiences with others.”
- Colin MaclachlanAmbassador
Colin Maclachlan, star of Channel Four's captivating reality TV drama SAS: Who Dares Wins, has joined Pilgrims Bandits as an ambassador.
Colin joined the army in 1989 and after 9 years in the Royal Scots passed selection first time aged 23 into 22 SAS. Colin was fortunate enough to have been involved in some of the more high profile and daring missions of the recent period. Only a handful of men have been involved in hostage negotiations, hostage rescue and been a hostage themselves and Colin is one of them. He waded through stinking swamps in Sierra Leone in West Africa to hunt down the West Side Boys, a guerilla gang holding 5 British soldiers hostage. It was a mission so daring and dangerous they nicknamed it Operation Certain Death. Its real name was Operation Barras. The SAS recce teams secured the hostages' building and neutralised any West Side Boys prior to the main assault arriving and secured the prison building before the rest of the unit arrived wiping out the terrorists in 2000.
He was also the first sniper on the scene when a hijacked Afghan flight with 150 passengers landed at Stansted in the same year, sparking a stand-off that lasted four days. But five years later Colin found himself on the other side of a rescue mission after he was taken hostage in the Iraqi city of Basra. Blindfolded, battered and stripped naked, he repeatedly felt a gun pressed to his head and heard them pull the trigger, as his captors held mock executions. Father-of-two Colin only survived long enough for British troops to rescue him because the terrorists who held him wanted to film his suffering in a propaganda video before they executed him.
Colin left the SAS shortly after doing an exchange programme with both Delta Force and Seal Team 6 and after doing security consultancy for the Saudi Royal Family, A-List Celebrities and US Media Networks decided to fund himself through university where he attained a First Class MA (Hons) in History from Edinburgh University and an M.Litt in Terrorism from St. Andrews University. Colin is now involved in TV and Radio and also does a lot with charity being involved as Patron for the Lee Rigby Foundation among others. As well as local community issues, Colin does motion capture for Rockstar Games, writes and edits articles on military and terrorism, and also risk consultancy on a project basis.
- L/Cpl Tyler ChristopherAmbassador
Tyler Christopher - Veteran. Lance Corporal, 2 RGJ followed by 4Rifles after the amalgamation. GB Sledge Hockey Player.
It is with the greatest honour and thanks that I accept the position of Ambassador for the Pilgrims Bandits Charity. I was injured in Afghanistan whilst on foot patrol on 13th August 2009. I was also 13th in line, Unlucky for some. Once realisation set in that it was me injured, I felt what can only be described as warm water like a tap dripping down my legs before I realised they were no longer there, I was very lucky to have kept my right arm as this too was badly damaged. I had internal injuries, lost both legs above the knee, but worst of all... I lost my camera which had all my tour photos on it.
Since injury I have gone on to excel in my chosen sport of Sledge Hockey, I used to play field hockey and inline hockey before I was injured so to find a similar adapted sport suited me down to the ground. I now play for GB and we narrowly missed out on a place in the Winter Paralympics 2014.
Pilgrim bandits have helped to show me I can still get out and do activities that I used to enjoy, and after travelling 500 miles down the Yukon river proves just that. I have recently completed my level one coaching for kayaking which I now hope to use to help teach others to enjoy this great activity. Pilgrim Bandits have given me a new sense of purpose and I will be forever grateful for that.
- Anthony MiddletonAmbassador
Anthony Middleton Ex SBS and leading Instructor of Channel 4's "Who Dares Wins" Programme
Born in Portsmouth and raised in rural France, Ant set his sights on a career in the armed forces and didn’t stop striving until he achieved his goal. In 2008 he joined the Special Boat Service and completed three tours of Afghanistan and served in Sierra Leone, Macedonia and Northern Ireland before leaving in 2012. The SBS is the UK’s naval special forces unit and the sister unit of the SAS.
He was a point man/lead scout and also a primary fires operator and sniper. Prior to joining the SBS, Ant also served in the Royal Marines and 9 Parachute Squadron Royal – meaning that he has achieved the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the UK’s Elite Forces (P Company, Commando Course, UK Special Forces Selection)
Thanks to his huge range of Special Forces experience, Ant has invaluable skills in survival and endurance. His appetite for adventure and extremes has no limit and has lead him to take on some amazing challenges.
- Mr Alex LewisAmbassador
Alex Lewis - Civilian Ambassador for Pilgrim Bandits Charity.
The charity invited Alex to become an ambassador because of his remarkable can-do attitude. In 2013 Alex Lewis, from Stockbridge Nr Andover, collapsed and was rushed to Winchester ICU. His only symptom leading up to this was a common cold. Within a few hours his vital organs were being supported mechanically, his blood forced around his body with nora-adrenalin and his chances of survival; “less than 5%.” Alex, 35 who has a partner and a 4 year old son, had contracted Strep A – usually nothing more than a sore throat. But, for Alex it took a menacing turn into Strep A Toxic Shock Syndrome, a very rare and devastating infection. After 7 days in ICU Alex beat the odds to survive but appallingly Alex lost each of his limbs along with a large section of his face to Necrotizing Fasciitis, a rampant bacterial infection that requires urgent amputation to stop it spreading. In spite of all this, over the last two years Alex has made incredible progress and today is campaigning for improved support and equipment for amputees. He is able to walk again with the aid of specialist equipment, much of which is not available to him through the NHS. Over the course of his lifetime Alex will need over £1m for proper prosthetic s and equipment which he will be required to fund himself. http://www.alex-lewis.co.uk/