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RAF veteran's clothing range around Armed Forces Day theme spreads cheer among front line health workers

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An RAF veteran’s floral designs are spreading cheer among front line health workers.

Last year, Ben Skipper, of Newark, worked alongside the Help For Heroes trading team to design a clothing range around the theme of Armed Forces Day.

Credit: Phil Hardman
Credit: Phil Hardman

The best-selling range went on to win the best product range category at the Association of Cultural Enterprises Awards 2020.

It was all the more rewarding for Ben, who had suffered a traumatic brain injury during his time with the RAF.

So, when Help For Heroes was looking to develop a new product for its 2020 Designed By Heroes range, it knew who to turn to.

“We approached Ben to help create a beautiful print for our new ladies’ accessory, the Watercolour Bloom scarf,” said a charity spokesman.

“The design evolved over time to become a lightweight, floral scarf made to lift any outfit, with a style to carry you through the spring-summer.

“Ben has many creative hats and even photographed and styled the scarf on his wife Anne and her friend, Leander Crampton, at Kelham Hall."

Scarf and clothing shoot (34730302)
Scarf and clothing shoot (34730302)

It is a huge source of pride for Ben, because when people buy an item he has designed, it directly helps other wounded Servicemen and women.

He said: “First and foremost, it funds vital support for those who have sustained often catastrophic injuries in the line of duty or who have become ill during their service.

“It pays for world-class staff who support our veterans and their families every day throughout the UK. It pays for ground-breaking rehabilitation, companionship, and hope.

“It’s an opportunity to support all of this and buy an article designed by a beneficiary of Help For Heroes.”

A former Force Protection Non-commissioned officer, Ben had suffered increasingly with a range of balance, muscular and co-ordination issues, to the extent doctors thought he might have early-onset dementia.

After tests, it was found that Ben, who served in conflict zones including Kosovo and Sierra Leone, had experienced a traumatic brain injury during his days in the service.

He sought support from Help For Heroes in 2015.

He said: “You always think there are people far worse off than you, who are more deserving of the help because of what they have been through and that is not what Help For Heroes is about. It fulfils a need for people to grow and develop outside of the military.”

Thanks to the charity’s support, Ben was able to explore his own creativity, in the form of photography and design, which developed into a new career path.

Through Help For Heroes Band Of Brothers fellowship, Ben designed his Armed Forces Day collection.

And, during coronavirus, his latest collection is bringing an air of positivity to wife Anne and her colleagues at Boston Pilgrim Hospital’s occupational therapy team.

Anne Skipper and her NHS colleagues. (34730299)
Anne Skipper and her NHS colleagues. (34730299)

Anne said: “Many of my colleagues have family members who are in the forces or are veterans.

“My fellow occupational therapist colleagues were more than happy to be a part of Help For Heroes photo shoot.

“Already several of my friends and colleagues have purchased the scarf in recognition of the amazing work the charity provides. We are all very proud to support Help For Heroes.”

Tanya Ingleton, from Help For Heroes’ Trading team said: “It’s wonderful to see that Anne’s NHS colleagues love Ben’s design as much as we do, and that it’s bringing some cheer at what is a challenging time for so many.”

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