Veterans from Colchester compete in Help for Heroes’ Phoenix Winter Games

Colchester veteran Andy Halfpenny took part in the Phoenix Winter Games. Picture: SHANE WILKINSON/CR

Colchester veteran Andy Halfpenny took part in the Phoenix Winter Games. Picture: SHANE WILKINSON/CROWN COPYRIGHT - Credit: Crown Copyright

Military veterans from Colchester joined a group of more than 40 taking part in the annual Phoenix Winter Games, hosted by charity Help for Heroes.

The games, staged in Wiltshire last week, were themed around the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, service personnel and veterans from all across the UK took part, including a group from Chavasse VC House in Colchester,

Among the competitors was Andy Halfpenny, 49, from Colchester Recovery Centre, who served for 16 years in the military before sustaining his injury,

He said: “It was my first experience of the winter games and I’ve had a fantastic time. We’re very lucky that Help for Heroes puts on these sorts of events and it was an honour to come.

“The sitting ice hockey in particular was a blast. It was pretty brutal to be honest! Everyone was hot and sweaty but it was still really cold.

Andy Halfpenny in action with the sled dogs at the Phoenix Winter Games.
Picture: SHANE WILKINSON/

Andy Halfpenny in action with the sled dogs at the Phoenix Winter Games. Picture: SHANE WILKINSON/CROWN COPYRIGHT - Credit: Crown Copyright


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“Although we were all tired everyone had such a great time. Having fun with those who are in a similar situation is just as key to recovery as exercise. I would highly recommend signing up to the summer or winter games if you can.”

Participants represented the Help for Heroes recovery centre they attend. Team Colchester tied with Team Tidworth for second place, just one point behind winners Team Plymouth. Team Catterick, who won last year’s summer games, came in fourth.

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Steve Schollar, head of recovery East and Midlands, added: “The games are designed to bring together wounded, injured and sick veterans and service personnel in a friendly yet competitive environment. It’s a place where they can re-experience the camaraderie and social environment of the military.

“Sport can play a huge part in the recovery journey for an individual, giving them a sense of purpose and empowering them to challenge themselves. The winter games has been a fantastic example of what can be achieved post injury.”

The week kicked off with 15 Alaskan Malamutes pulling team members in a sled dog race. Events also included sitting ice hockey, clay shooting, skiing and curling.

The five days of sports gave the opportunity to be a part of a team again, something that is often missed when leaving the military.

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