Deptherapy Ambassador Ben Lee Wins Prestigious Endeavour Fund Award
Inspirational Deptherapy Ambassador Ben Lee was one of three wounded ex-servicemen honoured with the Endeavour Award Fund by Prince Harry, accompanied by his fiancée Meghan Markle, at a special awards ceremony at Goldsmith's Hall in London on 1 February.
Ben, a former private in the Royal Engineers, suffered catastrophic injuries and lost both of his legs while searching for, and disposing of, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan in 2011. The Royal Foundation’s Endeavour Fund supports wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women and encourages them to rekindle their fighting spirit through sporting and adventurous endeavours.
In light of his work with UK diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy, Ben was awarded the Recognising Achievement Award, given to the individual who has - in the judges' opinion - best utilised their endeavours and experience to promote and catalyse their recovery.
Ben was introduced to scuba diving through Deptherapy, completing his PADI Open Water course during a specialist training programme in El Quseir, Egypt, in 2016. The double-amputee's achievement is all the more impressive considering that he drowned in a swimming pool as a child, leaving him with an overwhelming fear of water after his successful resuscitation.
With the close support of his Deptherapy team mates, diving instructors and fellow wounded veterans, Ben overcame his fear of the water and discovered the power that scuba diving can have to heal and rehabilitate. Since passing his Open Water course at Roots Red Sea, Ben has completed his AOW and Rescue Diver courses, along with a number of specialities to reach the level of Master Scuba Diver, and has begun his Divemaster training programme.
His inspirational achievements led Ben to the conclusion that he wanted to 'give back to the charity', and has become committed to helping and inspiring new programme members, as well as acting as an ambassador for both scuba diving and the Deptherapy charity. He and his partner Sophie recently attended Deptherapy's two-day mental health first aid course for the Armed Services Community to further his ability to help others.
On receiving The Recognising Achievement Award, Ben said: 'This has been an amazing journey and I am so honoured to have been selected to receive this award amongst so many incredible individuals. But this award isn’t about me. It is about Deptherapy and all my brothers and sisters in arms that the charity helps and supports. None of this would have been possible without the support of Richard Cullen (Founder and Chairman of Deptherapy) for whom I have the utmost respect.'
'Deptherapy is a small charity, run entirely by volunteers,' continued Lee. 'I personally don’t know how they do so much, with so little income. Richard and the Deptherapy Team have changed my life, just as they are changing the lives of many others.'
Deptherapy are taking all opportunites to thank the Royal Foundation’s Endeavour Fund for their contributions, which have enabled the charity to run an additional Open Water training course in 2017, to reduce the ever-growing waiting list of injured and wounded ex-service personnel wanting to join the Deptherapy specialist programme. The charity is now actively seeking funding and sponsorship to continue being able to offer its life-changing programmes in 2018 and beyond.