Meet our Inspiration Award Finalists
This award honours a person who has overcome significant challenges, injury or disability, and whose ongoing or past outstanding achievements are an inspiration to others within the Armed Forces community. The winner of this award will be chosen through a public vote.
Which of our four incredible finalists will inspire you to vote for them? Read the articles; watch the videos and cast your vote. Voting goes live from 17:00, Monday 9th August. Voting will then close at 20:00 on Sunday 22nd August. You can only vote once so make it count and spread the word!
This award is generously sponsored by NatWest. NatWest serves customers in England and Wales, supporting them with their personal, private, and business banking needs. NatWest helps customers at all stages in their lives, from opening student accounts, to buying their first home, setting up a business, and saving for retirement.
Alongside a wide range of banking services, NatWest offers businesses specialist sector knowledge in areas such as sustainable energy, commercial property and technology, as well as access to specialist entrepreneurial support.
“NatWest is honoured to be supporting the 2021 Soldiering On Awards in recognising truly inspirational people and teams, profiling the outstanding achievements of current and former service men and women, their families and all those who support the Armed Forces Community.” – Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise and Climate Engagement and Partnerships, NatWest
Our Category Ambassador for this award is Jeremy Vine.
The Finalists for the Inspiration Award are Margo Hetherington MBE, Mark Ormrod MBE, Stephen Vause and Martin Hewitt. Read their stories and watch the videos below, and vote at the bottom of the page.
Margo Hetherington MBE
Margo’s exemplary military service saw her rise to the rank of WO11, but it was not without incident. Sadly, the many conflict based atrocities she witnessed eventually took their toll. After leaving the army, her life took a downward spiral and she was diagnosed with PTSD.
Everything changed when a friend encouraged her to help others. So, in 2011, along with a colleague, Margo set up Military and Police Support of West Tyrone (MAPS), an independent charity that brings together various military and police associations to support veterans under one umbrella. Margo was determined that if veterans needed help, they would know where to turn.
Margo has steered MAPS from its humble beginnings to an award-winning organisation. She was instrumental in setting up the organisation’s befriending service and its connections with signposting partners. With over 900 members, she is the charity’s treasurer and organises activities within the hub. As a full-time, dedicated MAPS volunteer, Margo is available day and night. During lockdown, she ensured that over 100 shielding veterans received food packages, delivering many herself to make contact with, and support, vulnerable veterans.
Margo lives and breathes firstly for her own family but secondly for that family that is the Armed Forces and the police.
Margo has remained true to her vision that veterans need to be dealt with sympathetically. She has learned new skills to add to those gained during her military service, making her an authority in veterans’ welfare. Her voluntary service was acknowledged in 2016 when she was bestowed with an MBE; a proud moment for her, and immensely deserved.
Margo’s achievements have been many, the challenges she has faced from when she was a child have been monumental, but she has overcome them all. Her life continues with astronomical service dedicated to the Armed Forces family.
Mark Ormrod MBE
Mark was serving in Afghanistan when an IED exploded. He lost both legs and an arm in the blast, and begged his comrades to put him out of his misery. Thankfully they didn’t, but Mark technically died in the rescue helicopter. However, following remarkable work from the medics using some extreme techniques, Mark recovered, becoming the first British triple amputee to survive the conflict. Since then he has embraced his second chance at life and his amazing story is being turned into a movie.
Mark has taken part in the Invictus Games twice. In Toronto 2017, he won two silver and two bronze medals, with the honour of one being presented by HRH Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. At the Games’ closing ceremony he was presented with the Jaguar Award for Exceptional Performance, Determination and Dedication. Then at the 2018 Invictus Games Mark won an incredible seven medals, including four gold.
Mark has inspired people around the world, young and old, able bodied and disabled, members of the Armed Forces and civilians – and his story touches everyone who hears it. Mark is a prolific motivational speaker and has released a book, a podcast and a documentary; he is a genuine inspiration.
Mark has worked with medical teams to improve the treatment and rehabilitation that subsequent patients receive.
“Mark does more exercise and has a better outlook on life than any able-bodied person I know. Seeing Mark achieve so much with only one arm makes most people feel like they can definitely up their game.”
Mark recently contributed to an art project which raised £40,000 for the Royal Marines Association.
“Mark’s charity and media work, art projects, sports achievements and motivational speaking duties make him an incredible role model for any human being, no matter what their circumstances may be. He has inspired many people to live their lives to the full and not be held back by anything.”
Stephen Vause was described as “one of UK’s most seriously injured veterans” after suffering severe brain injuries in a mortar bomb attack while serving with the 4th Battalion The Rifles in Iraq in 2007, aged 19.
Not expected to survive his injuries, Stephen confounded the experts. While he will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life, Stephen converses using a tablet and, despite his disabilities, he continues to push himself physically.Continue Reading
Stephen lives at Royal Star & Garter, a charity providing care to veterans living with disability or dementia. Determined and courageous, he works hard to achieve his goals and maintain his strength and mobility. He has just completed, in six weeks, a 60-mile virtual London-Brighton cycle ride on a specially adapted static bike, raising over £4,500 for Help for Heroes and appearing on TV as an inspiration to others!
Stephen still suffers a great deal of pain from his injuries but pushes himself to cycle three miles a day, using his arms and legs alternately. He undertakes other challenges, including lifting weights, sit-ups and hand-eye coordination tasks, setting goals and never giving up. During lockdown, he introduced the sport of Boccia to his care home, working with staff and demonstrating his altruism and leadership skills by helping run sessions for other veterans with disabilities.
“Stephen is an amazing man, a true hero. To cycle 60 miles is a huge undertaking and a real inspiration, showing what you can do when you put your mind to it.”
The National Senior Fundraising Manager at Help for Heroes reported that, “The pandemic has led to a 30% drop in our regular income. The amazing amount Steve has raised will help us give wounded veterans and their families the strength they need to live the lives they deserve.”
“Despite everything he’s endured, Stephen continues to push himself, think of others and maintain his sense of humour… His courage, determination and drive are exemplified by his never-say-die attitude, and are inspiring.
Martin Hewitt served eight years with the Parachute Regiment before an injury paralysed his right arm and ended his military career.
Martin is an inspirational character, winning numerous medals as an athlete on the British Disabled Ski Team, representing GB in the International Paralympic Committee World Championships and international races.
Adventurous Martin is the founder of Adaptive Grand Slam (AGS), a charity that provides opportunities for people with disabilities and mental health issues to participate in expeditions and physical challenges through a supportive community, encouraging them to achieve the extraordinary. Martin’s personal achievements have inspired over 70 people to step into the unknown and truly challenge themselves, both physically and mentally, as he helps members of the disabled community regain confidence, independence and self-esteem.
Martin leads by example and aims to be the first disabled person to complete the Explorers’ Grand Slam, a truly mighty challenge. To date, he and his team have successfully summited many mountains, including Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua and Everest. As part of the challenge, Martin walked unsupported to the Geographic North Pole, featuring in a BBC documentary with HRH Prince Harry.
“Martin gives people the confidence to follow their dreams and inspires them to face the greatest challenges possible, empowering them to overcome whatever their physical limitations may be.”
Closer to home, Martin leads disabled explorers through UK challenges that raise people’s spirits and allow them to accomplish goals they have set themselves. In 2022, he plans to provide opportunities for 100 members of the disabled community to participate in mountaineering challenge events across the UK and Europe.
Martin is involved in aiding the development of prosthetics and adaptive equipment through testing, and providing medical research into how disabled bodies cope in an extreme environment. He gives motivational talks and has produced a fantastic video charting his Everest expedition. Martin is an ambassador for both BLESMA and Supporting Wounded Veterans.
“Martin has accomplished physical challenges that most able-bodied people could barely imagine, and very few would consider tackling.”