Founder says Help for Heroes was criticised because it seemed 'too good to be true'

Bryn Parry, who founded the charity with his wife and stepped down last year as chief executive, says it is run professionally and ethically

Bryn Parry
Bryn Parry

Bryn Parry, co-founder of the armed forces charity Help for Heroes, has said the charity attracted negative publicity because it seemed "too good to be true".

The charity has been the subject of a number of negative news stories since it was founded in 2007, including accusations that it was spending too much money on impressive buildings and not enough on beneficiaries themselves, which Parry denied.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Charitable Organisations in central London yesterday, Parry defended the charity, telling delegates that it was properly run.

"In many ways we’ve suffered from press in the last few years: people have had a pop at us because they think we’re too good to be true," he said. "And the stuff you read in the press was wrong."

Last year the charity was also accused in the press of sharing beneficiaries’ medical details without permission.

He said: "And of course, with the way the press operates, a bad story comes and everybody reads it. Then, two or three months later, an apology appears and it’s two lines on page five and no one reads it.

"That’s how it happens, but I can assure you that Help for Heroes has been run ethically and professionally."

In April 2016, Parry stepped down as the chief executive of the charity, which he founded with his wife Emma.

He said: "I probably stayed two years longer than I should have done, given my expertise. I’m a campaigner and a builder: I don’t enjoy day-to-day management, but there never seemed to be the right moment to stand down. There was always some crisis to roll you on."

The decision had been a difficult one to make, he said, but "as a founder you must know when to stand down and a chief executive must know when they are exhausted".

Parry emphasised the importance of having the right team of professional people to lead the charity and said the charity’s trustees and chief executive needed to have the strength to wind it up when it was no longer needed.

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