Celebrities attend Polo for Heroes fundraiser in St Albans
PUBLISHED: 09:53 03 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:14 03 July 2013
HEROES who put their lives on the line to serve this country and suffered dreadful injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan were among the 600-strong crowd at a St Albans polo fundraiser on Saturday.
The group of brave young men, including a guardsman who lost part of his leg in a landmine blast, mingled with VIPs such as football legend Luther Blissett at the St Albans Polo Club, in Chiswell Green.
The charity picnic and polo match was hosted by Polo for Heroes, which organises trips abroad for injured members of the armed forces and is fundraising to finance a journey to Las Vegas in 2014.
Money raised at the event also goes towards Help for Heroes and the Irish Guards Appeal Fund.
Ex-Irish Guard Captain Andy Haines, who runs a boxing club in London for the army, explained that such trips were important for injured servicemen and women.
He said: “They are in a regime to get themselves well and this gives them freedom to be with a bunch of soldiers again, away from that regime, but who are also receiving medical treatment.”
Guardsman Patrick Gallagher said he had an “awesome” trip to Las Vegas last year. He was injured in Afghanistan, losing his right leg below the knee in a blast from a landmine.
Patrick said: “I’m in and out of rehabilitation at the moment.”
He explained that he has numerous prosthetic limbs – one for walking, one for running and one for water activities.
Private Aaron Dindyal lost part of his digestive system, injured his spine and damaged the cartilage in his knees in Iraq, possibly as a result of a shockwave.
He said: “Since being medically retired I have been doing lots of things for charities.”
The ex-servicemen were joined in the VIP section by former world boxing champion Steve Collins, a celebrity polo player, and Vicki Michelle, who portrayed seductive French waitress Yvette Carte-Blanche in hit BBC sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo!
Hailing from Essex, Vicki said: “I’m very pro the Army.” She explained how she has been busy helping to raise money for ex-servicemen, including a young man who lost both his legs in Afghanistan, to get a wet room for him.
She said: “When I met him he had had his car broken into and while he was getting treatment he also lost his special skateboard.”
Vicki has fond memories of St Albans, having performed in pantomime at the Arena, and praised the city as a “fabulous place.”
She was joined by friend and fellow actor Debbie Arnold, who has appeared in dramas EastEnders and Hollyoaks, and is currently the landlady of the Weatherfield Arms in Coronation Street.
Also showing his support for injured servicemen and women at the event was former Watford, AC Milan and England forward Luther Blissett. The footballer, who said he had had a “wonderful career,” is involved in hospitality at Watford and works with Show Racism the Red Card.
He and other visitors enjoyed watching fast and furious polo matches, played by the likes of the British Army Polo Team and St Albans Defenders.