WHEN Army bomb disposal experts are killed or injured on the front line, the Felix Fund charity is there to offer support.
Now the organisation supporting soldiers from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, which has its headquarters in Didcot, is celebrating a special commendation.
Holly Davies, chief executive of the Didcot-based charity, accepted the Chief of The Defence Staff (CDS) commendation at Ministry of Defence headquarters in Whitehall on Wednesday.
The award recognises outstanding commitment by non-military individuals or organisations to the services and was presented by General Sir Nick Houghton, the head of the British Armed Forces.
Felix Fund, which is based at Vauxhall Barracks, the home of 11 EOD Regiment, is one of only two charities to get a CDS Commendation since the inaugural awards in 2012.
Sir Nick said: “Felix Fund is a charity that significantly improves the lives of soldiers returning from operations through the generous provision of breaks, grants and peer support. Their work wholly complements our own efforts and is worthy of special recognition.”
Ms Davies said: “Everyone at Felix Fund is thrilled by this commendation.
“It’s very reassuring to have formal confirmation that our work for the military bomb disposal community has been good and useful.”
The charity was founded in 2011 by Ms Davies and three serving bomb disposal experts. It has provided therapeutic breaks for more than 300 military bomb disposal experts who have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland and the UK.It also makes hardship grants to people and their families, and on-camp welfare facilities for bomb disposal units are also supported.
Since April 2011, more than £1m has been raised for bomb disposal experts and their families.
Peter Norton, a retired major who was injured in Baghdad in 2005, has been helped by the charity, which has funded a mobility vehicle and stairlift at his home in Shrivenham.
The 51-year-old dad-of-two, who was based at Vauxhall Barracks with 11 EOD, said: “I think the commendation is completely fitting and well deserved recognition.
“The funding of the vehicle has enabled me to be independent and see my children, and very shortly once the lift has finished that will make my day much easier.
“For the bomb disposal community and those that are injured, they are making significant changes to the ability to get on with their lives.”
Seven members of 11 EOD have been killed in action since 2003 – Warrant Officer 2 Gary O’Donnell, 40, Staff Sergeant Brett Linley, 29, Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, 30, Captain Daniel Shepherd, 28, Staff Sergeant Chris Muir, 32, Captain Lisa Head, 29, and Captain Dan Read, 31.
To find out more, visit felixfund.org.uk/our-work/