Last week we had the Style for Soldiers Christmas Reunion party at The Honourable Artillery Company in the City and 270 injured servicemen and women and their partners travelled from all over the UK to see each other again.
We were very pleased to see many of the patients Emma had met at the military rehabilitation hospital over her ten year visits who had not been to a Style for Soldiers party before as during lockdown we had a chance to try and contact every one she had met but had not responded to invitations. Going to a party and socialising again can be very daunting post injury and resulting medical discharge from The Forces but we know they help build confidence both socially and for job interviews and new careers. On the evening one former serviceman did message to say he had ‘bottled out’ at the station and gone home but was determined to come next time. This has been the same for quite a few of our attendees over the years but once they manage to attend they report how much they enjoyed seeing their friends again and visibly grow in confidence at every reunion.
Style for Soldiers pays for all travel and hotels which we organise to enable as many as possible to attend. We believe that the reunions are the most important thing we do now as a charity, especially in these isolating pandemic times which we think the below messages and pictures illustrate well.
'I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the evening last night. It was an honour to meet and listen to veterans who served in the Middle East in such difficult circumstances; some of whom having suffered physical and psychological injuries to which they will never recover. What you do for them by showing your support and compassion is truly humbling. I left the army in 2001 after 9 years service embarking on a new challenge in the police. However, last nights experience was a celebration and reunion of my youth where the banta was flowing and as usual, soldiers seem to laugh and Micky take with that bespoke sense of humour that you can only find in the military! Many thanks for inviting me, regular meet-ups are becoming few and far between.'
'I really wanted to thank you for everything, the bespoke shirt and going to that party was amazing. It made me feel comfortable with myself to have something that fit perfectly. I don't know how to describe the difference that makes, but it does make a huge difference. I also had a fantastic time at the party! There was a General there that I had worked with in Afghanistan, and it was nice to catch up as well as meeting others who had similar issues to myself. It was the first time I've been to a large gathering, that I felt very comfortable. It was a huge step for me to go to something like that, and it was definitely a very positive thing. This was the first time since I was injured that I was able to do traveling like I did before my injuries, as well as going to a large event like that without backing down or being too anxious to do so. I had a fantastic time, and I met some fantastic people. I hope if it's okay in the future I would very much like to come again.’
We continue to run Style for Soldiers from within the business with no staff or premises costs and all donations therefore going towards the events, smart clothing and sponsorships into new careers.
Thank you for all your support and encouragement over the years and we wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year.
Emma, Kristal and all at Emma Willis