‘Everyday is different, new & exciting with plenty of challenges ahead’ – Richard Wilkinson’s story 

A chance meeting whilst trekking to Everest Basecamp in April 2023 has changed Richard’s life.

The opportunity to trek to Everest Basecamp with The Pilgrim Bandits was something Richard grasped with both hands, a physical and mental personal challenge whilst supporting other Pilgrim Bandits members, raising funds and awareness of the charity and its activities.

The Trek was a huge success for everyone involved. The largest group of injured persons to reach Everest Basecamp, with fellow Pilgrim Bandits member Hari Budha Magar becoming the first double above the knee amputee to Summit Everest, a new World Record!

Whilst on the Trek Richard met Daniel Malik, MD of Omega Solutions Group Ltd & High Work and supporter of the charity. They got chatting and on hearing of his struggles especially surrounding employment, taking into account his proven and much loved relationship with the great outdoors with 18 years military service, Dan decided there was an opportunity to put Richard through the Industrial Access Course and industry recognised qualifications not only to support OSG’s operational commitments with the Telecoms sector but to utilise his wealth of knowledge from outward bound sports to deliver training on behalf of his training company High Work.

Within a few months, with the support of the charity and Dan, Richard has qualified and is now teaching courses!

Richard commented ‘Everyday is different, new and exciting with plenty of challenges ahead. It’s been like a fresh start in life where this time I can see the future being positive.’

Dan is pleased to have been part of Richard’s journey recognising the charity. ‘I’m very pleased to say Richy is fully on his way within his new career path. My mindset is very clear, if you can trek to Everest Base Camp, you can absolutely get involved with my sector, a FIRST to the best of my knowledge! Of course none of this could be possible without the Pilgrim Bandits Charity. Their unwavering support to injured military and blue light veterans is nothing short of astonishing.’

Richards Story 

Richard served in the British Army for 18 years. He served with the King’s Royal Hussars, the Armoured Regiment on the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, and undertook tours of Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.

On operations in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, September 2012, Richard lost one of his colleagues to an IED blast. Whilst waiting to evacuate the area, he was shot through his lower right leg, the bullet damaged a nerve, leaving him with foot drop. Eventually he made the decision to have his lower leg amputated.

Richard explains: “My injury meant I couldn’t live the active lifestyle that I like to live and I became very depressed. I felt I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I went through years of surgery and nothing was working. I eventually made the hard decision to have my leg amputated just below the knee. Looking back, I am in a much happier place now as I can live my active lifestyle with much more ease and comfort.”

Since leaving the army, Richard struggled to find employment which kept him physically and mentally occupied, moving from job to job, finding opportunities scarce and limited. His chance meeting with Dan has changed all that.

Meeting the Pilgrims 

‘A good friend of mine was already involved with the Pilgrim Bandits. He heard about a trip they were doing to Svalbard in the Arctic and asked if it was possible for me to come along. Before I knew it I was off to Svalbard: that was one of my most favourite adventures with the charity.

‘I’ve also taken part in a kayaking expedition down the Orange River in South Africa and cycled the full length of New Zealand.

‘The recent trip to the Himalayas was an expedition of a lifetime. I always dreamed of going to the Himalayas as a kid; now my dreams have come true thanks to the Pilgrim Bandits. It was an amazing challenge: something I’ve ticked off my list, to say even though I am disabled, I can still do it.

‘The Pilgrim Bandits have given me a family. I meet up with fellow veterans and have what I would call ‘Army time’. We have all been through the same stuff and understand each other; we can relax, talk easily and laugh at things we have done.

“On the expeditions, we cheer each other along: no matter how challenging the task, we work as a team and complete the challenge together. I never thought I would have been able to do half the stuff that I have done with them. I wouldn’t have even thought to attempt such things. With the Pilgrim Bandits, nothing is impossible. I can’t thank them enough for this.”

The Pilgrim Bandits Charity is an inclusive organisation that strives for equality for disabled people demonstrating at every level that nothing is impossible. We’re a small organisation that punches well beyond its weight making a difference to all involved.

We offer FREE or partially funded courses in all industries to military and blue light veterans.

Get in touch to find out more…

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