A Royal Welsh veteran from Aberystwyth has been completing a three-year fundraising challenge alongside other veterans and serving soldiers in his regiment, in memory of Captain Stephen Healey who was killed in Afghanistan on 26 May 2012 when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED).
Captain Colin Jones MBE, from Aberystwyth, has been raising funds for Blind Veterans UK since September 2019 as part of the Captain Stephen Healey Memorial Challenge. The Royal Welsh regiment, along with Ryan Jones former Wales and British Lions captain, have so far ran from Maindy Barracks in Cardiff to Hightown Barracks in Wrexham within 24 hours, totaling a team effort of 137 miles, and ascended Pen-y-fan blindfolded. Colin says:
“We decided to do this challenge in memory of Stephen who in 2012 did a fundraising walk to the charity from Dale Barracks in Chester to the Blind Veterans UK centre in Llandudno. I didn’t know Stephen personally, but I have done lots of fundraising challenges over the years. A few of the guys in my regiment knew about my fundraising so they approached me, and I agreed to do a challenge in memory of Stephen”.
Captain Stephen Healey, who was from Cardiff, served in the 1st Battalion of The Royal Welsh regiment. He joined the Army in 2007 and was deployed to Afghanistan on 9 March 2012, taking over command of Checkpoint Langar as part of Combined Force Burma in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh Battlegroup. Unfortunately, on 26 May 2012, whilst on patrol, his JACKAL vehicle was struck by an IED, killing Stephen and significantly injuring several of his colleagues in the vehicle. Colin says:
“Steve was a great ambassador for Blind Veterans UK. We are doing this challenge for him”.
Colin and the Royal Welsh regiment had originally wanted to complete several physically challenging events over a planned three-year period however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to reschedule most of these. On Wednesday 26 May, the 9-year anniversary of Stephen’s death, Colin will be launching the next series of challenges. Colin says:
“On the 19 June, we will attempt to break a record of the most blind folded walkers to ascend Snowden and that evening Royal Welsh Veterans will play a charity football match against Aberystwyth Old boys. From the 12 August to 1 September, we aim to complete an international cycling venture from Berlin to the Blind Veterans UK training and rehabilitation center in Llandudno. On the 2 September, “we will attempt to walk blindfolded from Llandudno to Wrexham totalling 47 miles in 24 hours, as we retrace some of the charity route which Stephen completed in 2012”.
Stephen’s partner, Thea Davies, will also be doing the international cycle from Berlin to Llandudno. Thea says:
“Steve touched so many individuals who knew and met him, he was loved by so many and is truly missed by all. For myself to have this opportunity to continue his fundraising legacy for Blind Veteran’s UK, alongside Colin, is a great honour. I will join the cycle team and cycle the full 1293.9 mile route from Berlin to Llandudno in August. I will then complete Ironman Wales for the second time on the 12 September which I previously completed in 2014 in memory of Steve”.
“Steve will always have a special place in my heart and to be able to continue to raise money for a charity which he himself supported is the greatest way to keep his memory alive”.
To support Colin and the Royal Welsh team, please visit their JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/colinjones910
Nicky Shaw, Blind Veterans UK Director of Operations said:
“Living in isolation, blind veterans need our help right now with daily tasks, such as the shopping, and constant emotional support through this difficult time. So we are temporarily changing our service and mobilising our staff to provide practical, essential support to help the most vulnerable.
“There is so much that we can and must do to support blind veterans to help them maintain physical and emotional wellbeing, and to feel safe, reassured and cared for during this crisis.”