Pilgrim Bandits offer the rewards of belonging to a team, encouragement, belief and the power of humour over pain. Founded by Special Forces veterans in 2007, the Charity aims to use their training and experience to push wounded and injured service personal from the Armed Forces and Emergency Services to live life to the full, post injury.
Pilgrim Bandits’ primary aim is to help those in need directly, with no compromise. Soon, those who need help become those that give it. By pushing injured men and women into physically and mentally demanding situations that they would not have dreamed possible self-confidence is restored and self-belief instilled. Pilgrims Bandits pushes those who have already endured so much to go beyond endurance to embrace life again and in so doing inspire others.
This group of ex-Special Forces members referring to themselves as Pilgrims (from Regiment days) decided to add Bandits, with it’s obvious golfing association, after being accused of cheating (falsely) during a fund-raising competition. The group which had been raising funds for local charities supporting amputees and veteran service personnel, wanted to create something tougher and more challenging for amputees returning from modern conflicts as well as those veterans from past wars.
In 2010 the Pilgrim Bandits became a recognised charity. One of the founder members Mike explained, “We don’t do sympathy. It’s all about pushing the boundaries, as any member of The Regiment will remember from their Selection days it’s about “always being able to go a little further”, and that’s what we try and get across to these injured servicemen. Many didn’t want to leave the life that they had chosen, yet because of their injuries they are forced to and that can lead to a lack of confidence. By taking them on adventure training expeditions where the conditions are like those in the Forces, they don’t get any sympathy, but instead they are pushed incredibly hard. This restores self-belief which enables them to compete in events like the Para Olympics and share their experiences with under privileged young people in care homes, schools and detention centres anything is possible if you try hard enough.”
The Pilgrim Bandits raise funds through challenging members of the public to step into an unknown environment and to really challenge themselves, and finally find out what they are made of. The monies raised from these and all their fundraising efforts is then channelled back into taking injured members on adventure and confidence building expeditions like retracing WW2 missions, like Operation Frankton, where the lads were required to kayak 90 miles upriver into Bordeaux. Or 2015’s 500 kayak down the Yukon River in Canada. “They may be injured but this is no reason to stop using the skills they acquired whilst serving” concludes Mike. In 2016 this small charity won the “Support to the Armed Forces” Award at the National Military Awards and are keen to do more.
Who could you help taking part in the Round Table SAS Challenge Weekend?
Ben Parkinson MBE (below), and now patron and ambassador of Pilgrim Bandits, had his life changed in a second.
Lance Bombardier, 7 Para, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, Ben, is 30 years old and is a serving soldier. Recognised for being one of the most severely injured soldiers to survive the Afghanistan conflict, Ben sustained over 40 horrendous injuries when the military vehicle he was travelling in hit an IED in Helmand province in 2006. Ben was ‘sent home to die’, remained in a coma for over 6 months, and was told he would never walk or talk again. Injuries sustained included the loss of both legs above the knee and a catastrophic closed-skull brain injury which has affected his memory and ability to speak. Ben has defied all medical experts and made a recovery that none would have believed possible. His single mindedness, sheer determination, sense of humour and pure hard work has resulted in him being able to both speak and with the aid of prosthetics limbs walk.
Ben was awarded the MBE in 2013 for his remarkable contribution to charity; raising funds (more than £1 million in that time), and raising awareness of the plight of the most severely injured from modern conflicts. Ben carried the Olympic torch through his home town on Doncaster, and with the enduring love and support of his Mother, Diane, and his Father, Andy, continues to represent his country, his regiment, and his beloved charity Pilgrim Bandits.
Today Ben maintains a rigorous and selfless schedule of inspirational presentations and fund raising activities for Pilgrim Bandits as well as other charities. He physically trains every day to maintain an enviable upper body strength akin to that of the average gold medal power lifter. A strength required to enable him to walk on prosthetic legs.
In his role as Patron Ambassador for Pilgrim Bandits Ben has represented the charity at a range of high profile events including meeting royalty, taking part in the most extreme and arduous expeditions including an 80-mile hike across the frozen wastes of Norway, a 500-mile kayak down the Yukon river in Canada and many more besides. Ben works tirelessly to raise funds and awareness for Pilgrim Bandits. He is fundamental to its success.
Adopt, Adapt, Improve - Always a little further
Want to take part in the SAS Challenge event for Pilgrims Bandit?
Join up to Round Table before the end of October for only £55.02 to be in with a chance to take part in this once in a lifetime experience. Click here to get in touch!