Sheffield will gain another notch on its sporting belt this summer as it hosts the first ever Invictus UK Trials.
Among other claims to fame, the City is the undisputable home of World Snooker. Now Sheffield will see almost 500 wounded, injured or sick military personnel and veterans compete in an adaptive multi-sport championship and wider programme of activity.
Invictus UK, presented by BAE Systems, have been working closely on the delivery of the Invictus UK Trials Sheffield 2019, funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. The Invictus UK partnership comprising Help for Heroes, the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion, will run from 22-26 July, across Sheffield’s top sporting venues and other locations. Over five days 475 competitors, supported by their friends, family and local community, will take part in up to nine sports – Archery, Athletics, Cycling, Indoor Rowing, Powerlifting, Sitting Volleyball, Swimming, Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby.
Martin Colclough of Help for Heroes and Chef de Mission of Team UK for Invictus UK, said: “For those competing who were once prepared to put their lives second, the Invictus UK Trials are an opportunity for a second chance at life. Sport is a powerful tool in the recovery journeys of those with injuries and illnesses attributable to their service in the Armed Forces. We are proud to support them and their families on that journey, with the valued backing of Sheffield City Council and local industry.”
Those who compete in the Invictus UK Trials can put themselves forward for consideration to become part of Team UK for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020. Selection in the UK is based on potential recovery benefit, attitude and commitment as well as performance. All competitors, whether selected to represent the UK at the Invictus Games or not, will be offered the opportunity to represent Team UK in different ways, at other sporting events or in local clubs.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “We are proud to support the Invictus UK Trials and even prouder to be the first city to host this extraordinary event. The competition perfectly reflects Sheffield’s rich military history, proud sporting credentials and unrivalled cultural offer. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate all of that than in championing our deserving current and former Armed Forces and supporting them to lead fulfilling lives. I look forward to welcoming competitors and their families and friends from across the UK, to supporting them on their journey and to seeing many local people taking part and embracing the fantastic experiences the Invictus UK Trials will bring to Sheffield.”
As well as a packed sports schedule, a wider programme of activity will take place across the City, supported by Invictus UK’s delivery partners and Sheffield organisations.
An opening event will mark the start of the Trials, with an exciting announcement to follow soon on what it will include and how local people can get involved.
A celebration of how art can aid recovery will see performances of the West End show Soldier On at the Oval Hall, City Hall, from award-winning theatre company The Soldier’s Art Academy CIC. Dance and acting workshops will also be on offer aiming to bring local students and veteran performers together, and a number of photographers whose work addresses conflict and conflict resolution will be displayed around the city, which includes local veterans. Continuing the art theme, exhibition Art in the Aftermath will showcase the work of former servicemen suffering from mental and physical health issues, including local artists Dougie Adams and Stewart Hill, hosted by charity Style for Soldiers and with support from its ambassadors, actor Charles Dance and British model David Gandy.
Renowned author Sir Michael Morpurgo will be interviewed by TV presenter and wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan as the headline element of the event’s literary festival, which will also feature talks and readings from wounded military authors. Charity There But Not There will be working with Learn Sheffield and local Blitz historian Richard Godley to engage schools in the history behind their ‘Tommies’. International children’s charity Never Such Innocence is running an arts competition combining poetry, art, song and speech to engage competitors’ families and young people from across Sheffield to play a creative part in the Trials. The project is open to all young people aged 9-18. Winning works will be showcased across the City.
Additional to the arts activity, the Royal British Legion will host the Poppy Quest; a family friendly exploration of Sheffield’s history. A military village will appear in Devonshire Green during the week, with military equipment on display and an opportunity to explore the range of activities open to Servicemen and women. With the Armed Forces in mind, an employment forum will investigate how the Nation can better employ and utilise the skills of those who leave the Armed Forces, while an employment fair, hosted by the Career Transition Partnership, will allow Invictus UK Trials competitors to explore career opportunities available. A Recovery and Rehabilitation Symposium will bring military injury and recovery experts together to discuss various aspects of the subject, including the long-term needs of those affected by military service.
Antony Baines, Director of Operations at The Royal British Legion and Invictus UK Board Member said: “Behind every Team UK member, there are friends, families and carers who have helped get them to the start line. A life-changing injury or illness has a huge impact on both the individual and those around them. The wider programme will complement the sports at the Invictus UK Trials and engage those loved ones in other activities alongside the local community who we have had so much support from and are keen to involve.”
Much of this programme will include the local Sheffield community and opportunities on how to get involved will be announced soon.
Many parties are working together to make the Invictus UK Trials a success for all involved.
Rear Admiral Jim Macleod, Head of Invictus UK, said: “Invictus UK is supported by a number of partners all helping Team UK competitors to reach their potential. With the support of BAE Systems, the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and others, the 475 Veterans and serving personnel registered to compete at the Trials have been offered the opportunity to take a big step forward in their recovery journeys. We are delighted to be working with organisations which share our values in providing the best possible experience for our wounded.”
More information will be released in the coming weeks with opportunities for local people to get involved and join in with the Invictus UK Trials Sheffield 2019 at welcometosheffield.co.uk.