The Battle Back Centre (Lilleshall), which provides adaptive sport and adventure training activities to enhance the recovery of wounded, injured and sick men and women from all three Services, was opened today by The Royal British Legion and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The opening ceremony was performed by Beth Tweddle, MBE, the Olympic medallist and Britain’s greatest ever gymnast, and the Right Honourable Mark Francois, Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.
The Battle Back Centre (Lilleshall) is funded and operated by The Royal British Legion, in partnership with the MoD. Through a partnership with Sport England, the Centre has been established at Lilleshall National Sports Centre where many Olympians, including Beth Tweddle herself, and Paralympians train – providing an inspiring environment for recovery.
Participation in sporting and outdoor activity enhances recovery. The Centre encourages participants to focus on what they can do, rather than on what they can’t, to help them improve their resilience and motivation and build confidence and independence to make the best possible recovery.
The Centre can accommodate up to 24 people on each course, with 16 rooms fully equipped for those who need wheelchair access or have other needs. Since pilot courses began last year, it has helped over 200 wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and around 600 people a year can attend its multi-activity and training courses.
Activities at the Centre include wheelchair basketball, archery, indoor climbing, water sports and clay shooting, and participants often achieve things well beyond their own expectations. The Centre’s coaching team help them explore how they can use this sense of achievement in other areas of their lives.
The Centre’s world-class coaching expertise is provided by the Carnegie School of Sport and Carnegie Great Outdoors, both part of Leeds Metropolitan University. Independent evaluation of the programme, used for continuous improvement of the programme, is carried out by the University’s Research Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure.
Beth Tweddle, MBE, said: “The Battle Back Centre is a fantastic facility and I congratulate The Royal British Legion and everyone involved on what’s being achieved here. It’s wonderful that Service men and women, who have given so much for our country, can use their experiences at the Centre to build their motivation and their self-belief – as vital in dealing with everyday life as in sporting success.”
Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson CB CVO, National President, The Royal British Legion, said: “The Battle Back Centre has been created for the wounded, injured and sick Service men and women who put themselves on the line for us all. Its aim, quite simply, is to help them make the best possible recovery and lead the best possible lives. We all owe them this. The Royal British Legion will be standing by them, and their families, for the rest of their lives.”
Sapper Clive Smith is one of the faces of the Legion’s Poppy Appeal 2012 and participated in The Battle Back Centre programme in April this year, returning to do a wheelchair basketball instructors course in September. He said: “The ongoing support I’ve received from Battle Back Centre staff and others over the course of my recovery has been invaluable. Taking part in activities like wheelchair basketball, rock climbing and bowling was great fun and really encouraged me to focus on what I could do as opposed to what I couldn’t do after injury. This positive outlook has really helped in all parts of my life.”
Sport England’s Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “We feel honoured to have contributed to the partnership that has established The Battle Back Centre at Lilleshall National Sports Centre. Hundreds of wounded personnel will benefit from attending this fantastic facility ever year, in the same inspiring environment where many of our leading Olympians and Paralympians train.”
The Royal British Legion is providing £27 million to fund The Battle Back Centre (Lilleshall) as a key part of its £50 million commitment to the Defence Recovery Capability (DRC). The DRC is an MOD initiative in partnership with the Legion and Help for Heroes and supported by other Service charities and organisations to ensure that wounded, injured and sick Service personnel have access to the key services and resources needed to help them either return to duty or make a smooth transition into an appropriately skilled civilian life.