Bryn Parry of Help for Heroes tells naysayers to 'stop bitching', after criticism in The Times

The chief executive of the military veterans charity says the newspaper's criticisms of its recovery centres misses the point that the centres are helping to rebuild lives

Bryn Parry
Bryn Parry

Bryn Parry, the co-founder and chief executive of Help for Heroes, the charity for military veterans, has said in response to a critical article published in The Times newspaper that "it would be brilliant if the naysayers would stop bitching" about the charity and do something to help.

Parry made the comments in an open letter issued after The Times said the project to develop its personnel recovery centres, run in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, had spent millions more than planned without considering whether it was really needed.

The article, which appeared on the front page of the newspaper on Tuesday, said that on average only half of the bedrooms at the two largest of five recovery facilities developed since 2010 were used by serving personnel between August 2013 and January this year.

Parry’s response said: "Recovery is not measured in the number of beds occupied on any particular night; we are not running a Travelodge. These centres are helping to rebuild lives." 

The figures published by The Times excluded veterans and their families, who also had access to the rooms. In a statement issued with the letter, Help for Heroes said 3,836 men and women, including those still serving, veterans and families used the centres as overnight or day visitors between March 2014 and March 2015.

Parry said that claiming there was too much space at the centres was tantamount to saying the charity had "done too good a job" in supporting wounded veterans.

"We have done exactly what we set out to do: provide direct, practical support to the wounded, injured and sick," he said. "We have done what it says on the tin. We have, are and will continue to support our wounded.

"It would be brilliant if the naysayers would stop bitching about Help for Heroes and come and do something to help our wounded and their families."

The article quoted the former defence minister Kevan Jones, who was in office in the Labour government in 2010 when the project got the green light, as saying the government had not wanted "all-singing, all-dancing buildings" and that the money could have been better spent.

In the letter, Parry said the comment begged the question "OK former minister, so I assume you wanted substandard, inadequate buildings then?

"To be clear, we were asked to provide the minimum – but with wholehearted support from our donors, we chose to provide the best."

The MoD has also issued a statement, saying bed capacity was not an appropriate measure, while the Royal British Legion, a junior partner in the project, said its £23m contribution to running he centres was "the subject of periodic review". 

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