Press Release: November 13th 2015

First City Veterans’ Network Gala Dinner Raises £120,000

London firms have raised more than £120,000 for three military charities at a high profile event supported by celebrity Elizabeth Hurley.

Banks, legal firms, asset managers and consultancies rallied to support the inaugural City Veterans’ Network (CVN) charity gala dinner for 320 guests.

Celebrities, including Elizabeth Hurley and Vicki Michelle, and serving servicemen and women joined members of these companies and their guests at the Imperial War Museum on November 5th.

Funds were raised for SkillForce, which employs ex service personnel to teach children and young people self confidence and resilience skills for life and work; Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, which assists limbless veterans and their families to lead independent and fulfilling lives; and Combat Stress, the leading veterans’ mental health charity.

Ben Slade, Chief Executive, SkillForce, said: “It was a real honour to represent SkillForce at this amazing event and in such an awe-inspiring setting – particularly poignant at this time of the year. It was humbling to hear the veterans’ stories and to share with guests the incredible work of SkillForce, which is transformational for our staff who are predominantly ex service personnel and the young people whom they support.”

Brigadier Barry Le Grys, Chief Executive, Blesma, said: “Blesma members really appreciate the huge support given by the City Veterans’ Network and all the guests. Limb loss presents challenges through life but with support such as this our members can be positive and reach their full potential in society.”

Lieutenant General Andrew Graham, Chairman, Combat Stress, said: “We are hugely grateful for the generosity of the City Veterans’ Network. It was an honour for Combat Stress to be selected as a beneficiary charity for their inaugural dinner. The support raised will go to ensure that we can help the many ex service men and women to live fulfilling lives free from the harmful effects of psychological illness.’’

The funds were raised through a combination of a live auction, a silent auction and pledges. Keynote speakers at the event included:

  • Martin Bonner, who spent 25 years altogether with the RAF as a physical training instructor, and a parachuting instructor. Martin has worked for SkillForce since 2011 in schools on educational programmes that draw on the skills of ex service personnel to build children and young people’s character, self confidence and resilience; skills for education, life and work.
  • Mark Ormrod, a former Royal Marines Commando, is the UK’s first triple amputee to survive the Afghanistan conflict, and has been helped by Blesma since first being injured. When he was on foot patrol in 2007 in Helmand Province, he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost three limbs. He was told he should prepare himself for spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair but has learnt to walk again using prosthetic limbs. He is now a motivational speaker and an award-winning author.
  • Shaun Johnson is an armed forces veteran turned actor whose recent credits include playing Hamlet at the Shakespeare’s Globe London with The Combat Veteran Players, an award-winning Shakespearean theatre company comprised of ex service personnel overcoming injury. Shaun served 11 years with the Royal Artillery and is a former Combat Stress client.

The CVN is comprised of member firms from across the City and UK financial services industry and aims to share best practice on employing ex servicemen and women. It was formed in October 2014 by a group of London’s financial industry professionals who had served in the military in the past including senior staff at Citigroup.

Jim Cowles, Chief Executive, Citi EMEA, added: “I am glad to say Citi has been a leader in the employment of military veterans, and we welcome the particular and unrivalled skills they bring to an institution like ours. We give our fullest support to CVN, and I urge my colleagues in London’s financial services industry to do likewise.”

For more information on the CVN go to

Follow the CVN on Twitter @CityVetNet.



Notes to editors:

  • SkillForce is a national education charity that works with schools to transform lives. SkillForce currently supports young people in 200 primary and secondary schools across Wales, England and Scotland, preparing them for their next steps in education, work or training. The charity draws on the skills of predominantly ex service personnel. Instructors deliver motivational mentoring and proven education programmes which develop self confidence, resilience and character. HRH The Duke of Cambridge KG KT is SkillForce’s Royal Patron. Go to
  • Combat Stress is the UK’s leading mental health charity for veterans, providing specialist clinical treatment and welfare support to ex service men and women across the UK. Founded in 1919, the charity has since supported more than 100,000 veterans with mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. Today, Combat Stress is helping more than 5,900 veterans, aged 18 to 97, rebuild their lives through a range of free services.
  • Blesma, The Limbless Veterans helps all serving and ex service men and women who have lost limbs, or lost the use of limbs or eyes, to rebuild their lives by providing rehabilitation activities and welfare support. Our programmes allow members and their families to face the challenges ahead with renewed confidence and self-belief.


Media contact:

Mary Hampshire, Head of Public Relations, SkillForce.
Tel: 07985 779078.


Photo credit: Ben Stevens.

Elizabeth Hurley with Marc Ormrod, triple amputee, representing Blesma

Elizabeth Hurley with Marc Ormrod, triple amputee, representing Blesma

Martin Withers, DFC, flew Vulcans in 1982, Will Packard, founding member of CVN and Citi, Vicki Michelle

Martin Withers, DFC, flew Vulcans in 1982, Will Packard, founding member of CVN and Citi, Vicki Michelle

Two jpegs attached. Celebrity Liz Hurley with triple amputee Mark Ormrod at the City Veterans’ Network charity gala dinner. Photo credit: Ben Stevens.