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Letter from HRH Prince Charles

COVID19 and our Support

Letter from HRH Prince Charles

We are ALL affected by the COVID-19 virus.

The Government has directed that if you or anyone in your household shows the symptoms of COVID 19 (continuous cough, high temperature) that your entire household stays at home in isolation from other people for at least 14 days. Observing this advice is essential to slow the spread of Coronavirus. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that they do not go to work or places where other people congregate while exhibiting symptoms.

The Prime Minister has announced further significant measures: stop non-essential contact with others; stop all unnecessary travel; people should  work from home where they can.

In light of this and the need to slow the spread of coronavirus, particularly to individuals at higher risk (elderly and those with existing chronic illnesses), RHQ PARA and Charity staff have switched to remote working from home.  All Regimental Recruiting activities have been cancelled as have the following events:

  • Ardennes/Rhine Crossing 75thCommemorations
  • 3 Para Reunion
  • March of Loyalty
  • Hardwick Hall
  • Pegasus Network Meetings
  • 4 Para Reunion
  • PARAS’10 Colchester postponed to 7 Nov
  • Normandy 76
  • Regimental Commemoration NMA PRA Dinner Bosworth Hall

Decisions will be made on the following events in due course:

  • Eden Camp
  • Arnhem 76

The Charity’s Welfare Team will continue to operate as normally as possible, although staff availability may impact speed of response. Please bear with us while we adjust to the situation and establish reliable methods of communication.

Veterans, who may be vulnerable through age or illness or do not have family that can support them in isolation, may need RHQ/PRAFC support. Those that are vulnerable and need assistance will have to be monitored. Assistance may be required to resupply them if the situation persists and regular monitoring and communication will be vital to their care, but please note the high risks of physically visiting which should be avoided.

In summary, COVID 19 is a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of our veterans, particularly the more elderly or infirm. We all have a role to play in physically isolating ourselves and our families to reduce the spread of the virus, as well as keeping in touch with vulnerable veterans by electronic means. If they need support or advice that cannot be provided locally then our Welfare Team is ready to offer advice.

RHQ PARA Welfare Team:

Laura McPhilemy (Head of Welfare) RWO@parawelfare.org Mobile: 07702 190685

Sue Laidler (Welfare Assistant) welfarecell@parawelfare.org  Mobile: 07340347136

SMASH AND GRAB MOUNT TOUBKAL SUMMIT

This is your chance to join Support Our Paras on this incredible challenge and help them raise vital funds. Due to COVID, this challenge is postponed to 21 – 25 June 2021, as September 2020 is looking tight under current advice.

Mount Toubkal (4167m) is the highest mountain in North Africa.  This incredible challenge will take you on a journey through the Toubkal valley, passing through terraced farmland and Berber villages, where you can immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings.  It will feel like stepping back hundreds of years and it is a wonderful escape from, and contrast to, the fast- paced lives we live in the UK.  At the summit, you will be rewarded with views in every direction, from the High Atlas peaks in the north and to the south, the Sahara, rolling far away to the heart of Africa.  On the final day, we will have time to explore Marrakech. This is a unique opportunity to share a fantastic experience with fellow supporters, while challenging yourself and raising all-important funds for the charity.

Bill Laurence, Ex Para Regt, will be leading the team on this challenge and Charlie Richards, ex-Army Officer, will be your dedicated Tribal Tracks advisor for the preparation of the trip ensuring that every single detail of the challenge runs smoothly, from start to finish. 

Toubkal Challenge highlights!

  • A personal challenge that will tick many bucket list boxes;
  • A five-day Mount Toubkal Challenge trip to Morocco beginning and ending in vibrant Marrakech;
  • Acclimatisation trek in the High Atlas, followed by the summit of Mount Toubkal at 4167m;
  • Stunning High Atlas Mountain surroundings with views of the Sahara from the top!
  • A final night celebration to salute the group’s impressive achievement;
  • Fully supported trek with mountain guides, cooks and a UK leader.

Group size and dates

The maximum group size is 18 people.  Due to the limited places, places will be allocated on a first come first served basis, we are expecting this to fill up quickly following the feedback from the Paras in the City lunch yesterday.  The deadline for bookings is 20 February 2020. 

For full details of the itinerary please follow this link Itinerary  and to book click here  Booking Form .  If you have any questions at all about the itinerary or online booking please email Charlie on charlotte@tribaltracks.co.uk.

KABUL TO COLCHESTER K2C

2 Para will be raising funds for Support Our Paras during their forthcoming 6 month deployment to Afghanistan by covering the 4101 miles distance from Kabul to Colchester (K2C) in 180 days! Individuals taking part will run and bike the full distance back home, covering on average a staggering 23 miles per day! Doing a minimum of 4 mile run per day and remainder on an exercise bike, rowing machine or cross trainer. Sponsors, families and friends will be able to track their route home on an interactive map and regular video diaries and updates. Please show your support and donate .. http://www.justgiving.com/Kabul-to-Colch

Courage under Fire



A former Paratrooper is gearing up for his next big boxing fight to raise vital funds for Support Our Paras, the charity that supported him after life-changing injuries in Afghanistan.

Michael Lewis, 36, is a former Paratrooper who served with the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment and is set to compete in his third boxing match on Saturday 14th September in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

Despite being a below the knee amputee that hasn’t stopped Michael from training six days a week in the lead up to the big fight and he hopes to inspire others, by getting back in the ring after his latest fight in July.

Michael said “After my first match, which ended in a defeat, I am determined to come back fighting. I proved this by winning my second fight in just one minute thirty eight seconds in round one under boxing coach Lee Edwards of BST Academy, Northampton. Getting back into training and into the ring has to be one of the hardest things I have done, but I want to promote Support Our Paras for what it is, showing that donations really do help individuals like myself and all those within the Airborne Forces community including families.”

Michael has been training hard

“Since losing my leg in 2008 during service in Afghanistan, I have been focused on challenging myself no matter what the limitations and in the past have completed two mud runs and The Royal Parks Half Marathon just last year. All donations go towards Support Our Paras and I am proof of where the money goes and how it helps. They provided me a active prosthetic foot and funded a new wet room which was a welcome addition to my home.”

Michael served with the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment as a Corporal and had been in the Army since 2000. In 2008 everything changed, with only six weeks left to go of his tour before he returned home, Michael and his platoon were engaged in an intense fire-fight and Michael was hit by a British Artillery 105mm round. He was left with blast wounds which nearly severed his left arm, shrapnel wounds to his left knee and blast wounds to his right leg which led to a below knee amputation.

The injures lead to Michael being medically discharged from the Army in 2012 and life as Michael knew it was changed forever, consequently his dream of serving in the British Armed Forces was over. However, through Michael’s treatment, rehabilitation and transition from military to civilian street Support Our Paras has been there for him.

For those who would like to donate towards Michael’s boxing challenge fund they can visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michael-Lewis52

Boxing Match – Saturday 14th September. For tickets please email Michael Lewis: mlewis6962@hotmail.co.uk



Victoria Cross Award Citation

Victoria Cross medalThis is the full text of the citation published in the London Gazette

26 February 2015
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE Whitehall, London SW1

The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross to the under mentioned:

 ARMY
Lance Corporal Joshua Mark LEAKEY, The Parachute Regiment, 30014428

Between May and December 2013, Lance Corporal Leakey was deployed in Afghanistan as a member of a Task Force conducting operations to disrupt insurgent safe-havens and protect the main operating base in Helmand province. The majority of operations took place in daylight in non-permissive areas, attracting significant risk. On the 22nd August 2013, Lance Corporal Leakey deployed on a combined UK/US assault led by the United States Marine Corps into a Taliban stronghold to disrupt a key insurgent group.

After dismounting from their helicopters, the force came under accurate machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire resulting in the Command Group being pinned down on the exposed forward slope of a hill. The team attempted to extract from the killing zone for an hour, their efforts resulting in a Marine Corps Captain being shot and wounded and their communications being put out of action. Lance Corporal Leakey, positioned on the lee of the hill, realising the seriousness of the situation and with complete disregard for his own safety, dashed across a large area of barren hillside which was now being raked with machine gun fire. As he crested the hill, the full severity of the situation became apparent: approximately twenty enemy had surrounded two friendly machine gun teams and a mortar section rendering their critical fire support ineffective.

Undeterred by the very clear and present danger, Lance Corporal Leakey moved down the forward slope of the hill, and gave first aid to the wounded officer. Despite being the most junior commander in the area, Lance Corporal Leakey took control of the situation and initiated the casualty evacuation. Realising that the initiative was still in the hands of the enemy, he set off back up the hill, still under enemy fire, to get one of the suppressed machine guns into action. On reaching it, and with rounds impacting on the frame of the gun itself, he moved it to another position and began engaging the enemy. This courageous action spurred those around him back into the fight; nonetheless, the weight of enemy fire continued.

For the third time and with full knowledge of the extant dangers, Lance Corporal Leakey exposed himself to enemy fire once more. Weighed down by over 60 lbs of equipment, he ran to the bottom of the hill, picked up the second machine gun and climbed back up the hill again: a round trip of more than 200 metres on steep terrain. Drawing the majority of the enemy fire, with rounds splashing around him, Lance Corporal Leakey overcame his fatigue to re-site the gun and return fire. This proved to be the turning point. Inspired by Lance Corporal Leakey’s actions, and with a heavy weight of fire now at their disposal, the force began to fight back with renewed ferocity. Having regained the initiative, Lance Corporal Leakey handed over the machine gun and led the extraction of the wounded officer to a point from which he could be safely evacuated. During this assault 11 insurgents were killed and 4 wounded, but the weight of enemy fire had effectively pinned down the command team. Displaying gritty leadership well above that expected of his rank, Lance Corporal Leakey’s actions single-handedly regained the initiative and prevented considerable loss of life, allowing a wounded US Marine officer to be evacuated. For this act of valour, Lance Corporal Leakey is highly deserving of significant national recognition.