Friday 23 Nov
Updated Friday 23 Nov 13:00

West Ham United host Blesma veterans


West Ham United welcomed four special guests to Rush Green this week in the shape Sgt. Mark Sidwells, Cpl. Paul Findlay, Cpl. Gam Gurung and Aircraft Engineer Jamie Weller visited Rush Green.

All four former Servicemen have been supported by Blesma, the Limbless Veterans, since being injured while on duty and now work with their fellow veterans and raising awareness and funds for the Chadwell Heath-based charity, which helps serving and ex-Service men and women who have lost limbs, or lost the use of limbs or eyes, to rebuild their lives by providing rehabilitation activities and welfare support..

Royal Air Force veteran Sidwells is a double-leg amputee, Royal Signalman Findlay a single-leg amputee, Gurkha Gurung a single-arm amputee, while Weller was forced to end his career in the Royal Navy career when he suffered irreversible and permanent retinal damage.

The illustrious quartet watched Manuel Pellegrini’s squad in training, discussed their challenges with Irons stars Aaron Cresswell and Declan Rice and were given a behind-the-scenes tour. They will be guests of honour at London Stadium on Saturday, when the club hosts Blesma's annual awareness match at the Premier League visit of Manchester City.

This visit is exactly what it’s about, exposure, as if you walk down the street nine out of ten people would not have heard of Blesma

Cpl. Mark Findlay

“The first time I heard of Blesma was when they came to my hospital and explained to me about who they are and what they do,” explained Cpl. Findlay, who served on three tours to Iraq before being injured in a mine strike in Afghanistan in 2009. “They were there to support me and my family through the process of living with an amputation.

“Fast forward and I joined Blesma in 2015 and my job now is to support 300 or so other veterans who have gone through what I went through, and their families, to live happy and fulfilling lives.

“This visit is exactly what it’s about, exposure, as if you walk down the street nine out of ten people would not have heard of Blesma.

“We’ve been around since World War One, we’re well-established, a fantastic organisation, and even if ten per cent of the crowd go away knowing who we are, that means they can give us support.

“The partnership and awareness West Ham bring to us is second to none.”

*Blesma needs to raise more than £4.5 million in 2018 to continue this vital work. You can help them do that today by texting ‘WHFC86 £3’ to 70070 to donate £3 to Blesma.