James D'Arcy

2023 SWV Winter Challenge

Fundraising for Supporting Wounded Veterans Ltd
raised of £25,000 target
by 92 supporters
Donations cannot currently be made to this page
Participants: 16 other ski buddies, support staff and adaptive ski instructors
In March 2022 SWV will be taking 26 medically-discharged veterans to Switzerland. With the help of specialist adaptive ski instructors, buddies, medics and support teams this will be the start of their rehabilitation back into employment.


Well, it finally happened, albeit one year late.  At a 06:00 on Sunday 6th March, 16 Buddies met at Café Nero in Terminal 5 at LHR, were processed, flown and bussed to Klosters for the beginning of a 7-day program involving 23 veterans and a number of physios, psychologists, medics and support staff.  Of the veterans, there were quite a few severe PTSD cases, some of whom had also suffered being blown up, managed to avoid losing limbs, but are now saddled with crippling pain issues. 

The Skiing 

We were extremely lucky with the weather.  The sun shone every day and temperatures on the mountain never got above freezing – so snow conditions on the piste were ideal for beginners.   Additionally, there were virtually no tourists in town, so we had the slopes almost all to ourselves.  None of the vets had that much experience, so progress was from a low level.  I was paired with a delightful Buddy – Stuart – who, back in 2016 had been on the ski week as a veteran, but has subsequently become an ambassador for the charity and this year returned as a Buddy.  We were attached to a small group, initially of 2, but then 3 veterans: Tom, Willie and Stewart.  Leading our team was the most delightful instructor – Christine (wearing the cowboy hat in the film), who was brilliant with the vets…and Buddies.

   The Sit-Skiers 

I was lucky enough to spend a bit of time with the returning vet sit-skiers.  They were an inspiration and mightily impressive.  Other than having to have their prosthetic legs taken to the bottom of the slopes at the end of the day, they were entirely self-sufficient whilst on the slopes, managing chair and drag lifts with ease.  They were also great company and very open about their injuries – never feeling sorry for themselves and always positive about life and where they were going.  You can see them skiing in the clip at the end.


The Buddies and various support staff were farmed out to a
number of extremely kind chalet owners, who donated rooms, and in my case, a whole (beautiful) chalet, which I shared with 4 other Buddies.  On several occasions, some of these owners hosted the entire Buddy team to dinner and they could not have been kinder or
more helpful.

For lunches, we took over the entire back portion of the restaurant at the top of the Madrissa Telecabine.  Here, lunches were served, cleared away and washed up entirely by women who either lived in Klosters, or who flew out for the week at their own expense, to help-out. I mentioned to one of the vets I was attached to that these were not restaurant staff, were not being paid, but were there entirely for their benefit – he couldn’t believe that people could be so kind.


Although a serious week, we also had a lot of fun.  The highlight had to be ‘race day’, which involved everyone donning fancy dress and then competing in a slalom in the afternoon.  There is plenty of photographic evidence to attest to how entertaining it was and what a fabulous way for everyone to finish the week on a high. The trick now is to make sure we stay engaged!


So, what did I take away from the week?  It was very humbling to hear what some of these guys – both men and women – had been through and continue to suffer from.  PTSD was the main culprit!  This is a destructive, debilitating condition.  It wrecks families, jobs, not
to mention the individuals, who frequently turn to alcohol, drugs, physical violence and occasionally suicide.  A number of the vets spoke very courageously about all of these aspects of their life – but I have now seen the benefits that SWV can achieve, even in one week.
 SWV punches way above its weight given the size of the charity.  It makes an enormous difference to the lives of these vets; it is there to support them for the long-term – and it does; it provides a strong mentoring program post the ski week;  it gives psychological help;
it provides avenues for them to get back in to gainful employment and  it spends its money wisely…talking of which, the MDMA trials are now beginning at Kings College London thanks, due in part to your funding. I will continue to support the charity and hope you will do
likewise.  If you can, please make your donations part of your annual charitable spend.

Many lovely comments were made by the veterans post the week, but perhaps this comment, from a severely brain damaged  vet, said the most:

“..After my ski habilitation week in Klosters, I have been getting actively involved with so many things.  It’s been good in getting inspired by SWV to actively “engage” with life and not sit idle at home…..I’ve learned so much about myself….I’m not an IDLE irrelevant STATISTIC and I have so much more to offer the world than I think and I’ll get exactly out of life what I put into it.  If I can ski a slalom race without missing a turn, then absolutely anything, within reason, is achievable”.

 I leave you with a huge thank you for your generous donations and hope you enjoy this brief clip covering our shennanigans over the week. Simply cut and paste this link into your web brouser:  


All the very best


About the campaign

In March 2022 SWV will be taking 26 medically-discharged veterans to Switzerland. With the help of specialist adaptive ski instructors, buddies, medics and support teams this will be the start of their rehabilitation back into employment.

About the charity

Supporting Wounded Veterans helps medically-discharged veterans regain their independence after physical and mental injuries. We offer skihabilitation, pain management, mentoring, and employment programmes. Since 2013 we have helped 90% of our veterans find meaningful occupation.

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+ £2,160.15 Gift Aid
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