Extra Mile Award winners

22 Feb 2024

Congratulations to all of the fantastic award winners at the recent Extra Mile Awards. Our work wouldn't be possible without the overwhelming amount of support from every volunteer and fundraiser so thank you. Each of the amazing winners have a story to tell about how they came to support Combat Stress and the unique way they make a difference. Please read below to hear and find out more about each fantastic winner!

Community group of the year

Our Community Group of the Year is a social group for gentlemen affiliated to St Marys Church, Barnes called Good Companions. They have generously organised various social activities whilst supporting good causes since 2000. Since 2013 they have held a coffee morning for Combat Stress every November at St Marys Church in Barnes raising a fantastic £9,000 to date.
St Mary’s Church also kindly donate the retiring collection on Remembrance Sunday to Combat Stress.

Volunteer of the Year

Our Volunteer of the year is Waddie whose introduction to Combat Stress was through our inaugural Race to Remember, when the challenges team had to do a frantic dash to set up the finish line after it became apparent, he was well ahead of their predicted times. He completed the 76km route in just 7 hours and 15 minutes!
Since then, he has become a valued volunteer and Challenge Ambassador, running webinars for our London Marathon, Race to Remember and D-Day 44 Challenge participants. Helping at the start line of our subsequent Race to Remember events, arranging corporate introductions and being a valued member of our charity dinner committee.

Regional Fundraiser of the Year 

Our regional fundraisers of the year are Chris and Jane Lovett. A reliable and flexible husband and wife team who attend the Armed Forces Day and Airshows in the Somerset area. Their continued support and dedication to Combat Stress represents the charity superbly and we couldn’t be prouder!

Corporate team of the year

Combat Stress was identified as Corps Security's ideal charity partner in 2015 due to shared mission and values. In 2023, Corps initiated a program where new business quotes include a voluntary 1% donation to Combat Stress, resulting in over £20,000 in donations to date. Additionally, Corps organized the Tour d’Corps, a cycling challenge raising £11,000, and sponsored events like the Annual Charity Dinner for 5 consecutive years. They regularly participate in activities like clay shooting, carol service, Medicine Ball challenge, March in March, and a Charity football match. They plan to do it all over again for us this year!

Corporate Fundraiser of the Year

Our Corporate Fundraiser of the Year, Rich Eburne - began supporting Combat Stress when his employer, Unum, signed the Armed Forces Covenant and partnered with the charity. As a veteran himself, he has been an active challenge fundraiser, taking part in March in March for five consecutive years and appearing in the promotional film for the challenge.
Last year he ran both the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the London Marathon. Not content with running 26.2 miles, he combined this with the Medicine Ball Challenge and ran the marathon with a 3kg medicine ball handcuffed to his wrist, to represent the burden of mental health carried by so many. This year he’ll be travelling to Normandy to run the beaches as part of our D-Day 44 Challenge.

Fundraising Event of the Year 

Minety Music Festival is a four-day music event, led by RAF Veteran Colin Laker. With over 100 bands and acts on four stages set in the heart of the Cotswold which gets bigger and better each year raising over £11k so far. There couldn't be a better fundraising event to commemorate.

Endurance Fundraiser of the Year

In 2022 Sergeant Naomi Benson ran for 24 hours continuously around Tidworth Athletics track, while handcuffed to a 3kg Medicine Ball (representing the unseen burden of mental health issues). She battled sleep deprivation, pain and discomfort and completed a staggering 300 laps, the equivalent of 75 miles. This wasn’t enough for this soldier and in 2023 Sergeant Benson once again took on the Medicine Ball Challenge, this time taking part in the Cowshed Backyard Ultra. Competitors must complete a 4.2-mile loop on the hour every hour until only 1 runner remains. Each loop has a 500ft elevation and was cold, wet and muddy, Naomi managed an incredible 11 loops equalling 45.93 miles with her 3kg medicine ball. These challenges are an incredible feat of endurance and together an outstanding achievement.

Veteran Volunteer of the Year

Guy came to Combat Stress for treatment in 2015 and since then has worked with the communications and fundraising teams, volunteering to raise awareness and funds for the charity. In 2023 Guy was the veteran face of our March in March fundraising event, kindly taking part in a short film which was widely shared to encourage people to sign up. It was hugely successful, with more than £160k raised. Guy also participated in media interviews, where he talked about his experiences in the Army and how Combat Stress had helped him. He also generously gives his time for cheque presentations and giving talks to our corporate supporters.

Veteran Storyteller of the Year

Army veteran Stuart came to Combat Stress for help in 2021 and following treatment generously allowed us to share his story in a wide variety of ways. Stuart has kindly allowed us to feature his story in many different ways, including social media, our website, our Year in Review, promoting our Lottery, thank you letters, online adverts – the list goes on. Stuart was also the face of a hard-hitting fundraising appeal which raised almost £30,000. And if that’s not enough, in April 2023 Stuart also took on the London Marathon in aid of Combat Stress.

Veteran Advocate of the Year

RAF veteran Liz called Combat Stress’ Helpline in 2020 after she attempted to take her own life. Since then, Liz has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the mental health issues veterans can face, becoming a fantastic ambassador for the veteran community. Liz has generously lent her support to Combat Stress in too many ways to count, including attending events, taking part in media interviews, sharing her story and featuring in fundraising appeals – the most recent of which raised £38,000. We are so grateful to Liz for everything she is doing to raise awareness of veterans’ mental health.

Young Fundraiser of the Year 

Our Young Fundraiser of the Year is truly inspirational. Last November, aged just ten years old, he took on the challenge of completing a Marathon in a Month. Demonstrating exceptional determination, he began his fundraising journey with a challenging hike in terrible weather up Pen y Fan. Over the following weeks he clocked up mile after mile by running with his mother and walking with his supportive brother and sister. He documented the heartwarming conclusion to his challenge in his final blog post: "Finished! Accidentally I did 3km over!" He quite literally went the extra mile! Through his efforts he raised a remarkable £1,373. He is a testament to what young individuals can accomplish with passion and perseverance and should be very proud of himself.

Staff Fundraiser of the Year

In 2023, our wonderful colleagues Fiona Meadows, Jules Norris, Zena Deane, and Francoise Bradshaw, otherwise known as the Ninja Warriors, demonstrated remarkable dedication by participating in our March in March Challenge. Despite the chilly weather, they laced up their walking boots and conquered the 10-mile walk together. Their exemplary leadership and commitment not only set a fantastic example across the organisation but also generated a remarkable £1,100 in support of our work. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to get involved in our events exemplify the spirit of teamwork, and we are immensely grateful for their support.

Fundraiser of the Year

The Ark Alexandra Academy Combined Cadet Force, led by Army Veteran Nicholas Burchell, set the benchmark for fundraising for March in March by being the top individual, top team and top organisation last year, raising an incredible £8.2k. What makes this even more remarkable is they come from a disadvantaged area during a cost-of-living crisis.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Chrisopher Darwin, the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, served in the Royal Navy and has been a dedicated supporter of Combat Stress for over four decades. In 2001, he held his first Track Day, a hugely successful event which raised over £3000. So he held another one he says “I avoid fandangles, celebrities, fast rides and other attention-getting devices – and I try to treat every driver with equal misery. People keep coming back – at least 90% are regulars”
Since then he has held over 100 track days initially at Goodwood, then Snetterton and currently at Llandow, and Castle Coombe. He’s raised an incredible £450,000 for various charities and Combat Stress has received nearly £80,000 during this time alongside a great deal of awareness. During the track days veterans are given free passenger rides, and the drivers love having the veterans on board as they can see how much they enjoy the rides.