A New Year’s message from our Chairman

We have had another busy year, read our Chairman’s New Year message here.

As I look back on 2018, I find myself reflecting on a year of massive challenges for HighGround, particularly with regard to the closure of DMRC at Headley Court and the move of our Horticultural Therapy operation to the new DNRC at Stanford Hall. In our short history, HighGround became a well integrated part of Headley Court and in moving north we sadly had so say farewell to some of our most valued and trusted staff: Carol and Gina were both very special ladies who went above and beyond in their efforts to help their patients and they will both forever hold a unique place in the HighGround’s story. Their legacy lives on though, and Jane and Andy picked up the baton as we moved from Headley Court to Stanford Hall in August. They are working hard to establish HighGround’s place in the Stanford Hall machinery and have been fantastically well supported by our ‘Friends of HighGround’, whose efforts were formally launched at a wonderful reception at Whatton House near Stanford Hall in October. With our fabulous newly refurbished greenhouse now nearing completion, we very much look forward to being able to deliver Horticultural Therapy at our new surroundings very early in the New Year.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Horticultural Therapy Challenge which enabled us to fund our move to Stanford Hall  and support our operation for the coming year.

Our Rural Weeks programme which we deliver in partnership with Bicton College in Devon has gone from strength to strength this year. We delivered 7 Rural Weeks at Bicton for 51 serving personnel and veterans from all 3 services and feedback from attendees was 100% positive! I am particularly proud of our achievement in successfully delivering a pilot Rural Week ‘inside the wire’ at HMP Dartmoor for 8 service veterans whom we are trying to assist with their rehabilitation.  The trial was an outstanding success and we hope to conduct a further ‘proof of concept’ trial early in 2019, subject to us being able to source the required funding.

Like all charities, funding remains an enduring challenge! We have had some fantastic support from all sorts of generous donors during 2018. For example, we were delighted that BASC invited us to share their stand at the Game Fair in July and I am particularly indebted to Nick and Seb who completed the Mongol Rally and raised £3680 for HighGround via sponsorship. I am very proud that The Royal Foundation has announced their formal partnering with us; for such a small charity to enjoy the endorsement of such a prestigious organisation means the world to us. Thank you! We very much look forward to working together in the future.

As we look to ‘spread the word’ about HighGround’s amazing work, our marketing efforts have started to bear fruit: in recent months HighGround has featured in The Field, the Evening Standard and on ‘On Your Farm’ on Radio 4.

Everything we do is only possible because of the great team of people who really make HighGround tick.  Anna continues to be our heart and soul and her infectious enthusiasm is an example to all. This year I welcomed 2 new Trustees, Jon Chandler and Michael Ward to our Board, and we were recently joined by Liz Brown as our first Hon Sec. No thank you would be complete without mention of our wonderful team of Volunteers: Kate, Brook, Lucinda, Noah, Nigel, Eunice, Anna, Kathryn and Marcela, who do all the backstage administrative donkeywork which ensures we stay efficient and effective!

2019 will, I am sure, contain its fair share of new challenges. However, HighGround’s people are the best of the best and they fill me with confidence that the future is bright! Ultimately, HighGround is all about using the great outdoors for the betterment of servicemen and women. There is much more we can – and will – do. Thank you to everyone who has got us this far on our amazing journey; I sincerely wish all our friends and supporters a very Happy New Year!