Meet our supporters

Our UK charity for veterans of the armed forces and emergency services has some great supporters. Many are veterans themselves, so understand the problems associated with returning to civilian life.

Patron: Bernard Cornwell OBE

Bernard Cornwell author

Bernard Cornwell, OBE is the author of many historical novels including the Sharpe stories about the Napoleonic Wars. He feels very strongly about veterans’ needs.

Bernard has kindly allowed us to call our charity café after his hero, famously played by Sean Bean. We are also offering world-exclusive merchandise based on quotes from the novels in our Sharpe’s cafés.

I’ve made a living writing about the adventures of soldiers. It just seems appropriate to give something back to the men and women who’ve provided me with so much material! I have a huge admiration for those who serve in our Armed Forces. They risk everything to make certain we have a comfortable existence. Too often their problems and needs are ignored when their service ends.

A very good soldier once told me that his career had been spent ‘fighting battles for those who can’t fight for themselves’. Now many of those men and women who fought those selfless battles need help themselves. FirstLight is trying to offer that help, and I’m honoured to be involved.

Vice Chair: Ida Beerhalter

Ida Beerhalter

Ida is the Co-Head of IOME, a private investment partnership of women principals from the Gulf region with its head office in Riyadh, KSA. She also serves as Member of the Board, trustee and advisor to various for-profit and not-for-profit organisations around the globe.

“I became a Trustee in memory of my grandfathers. They fought the physical and psychological aftermath of World War II’s horrors alone. I heard their stories about how difficult it was to get back to civilian life. They described it as being like an uprooted tree which needs to be re-planted. FirstLight provides those roots.”

Trustee: Jim Bowden

Jim Bowden - trustee of FirstLight TrustA former Brigadier with the Royal Engineers, Jim served in the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, Balkans and Iraq. Delivering military engineering bomb disposal gave him a particular interest in the importance of resilience, strategic planning, infrastructure support and sustainable development. This is what he now focuses on.

As well as commanding operations Jim has established such diverse programmes as the Whole Fleet Management, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Army Retention Strategy. He was also a Trustee and Director of the Army Sports Control Board. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Royal Engineers and the Chartered Institute of Management.

Since leaving the Army Jim has worked for KBR, Carillion and AECOM as a Sector Lead and Business Development Director.

Trustee: James Hayward

James Hayward - FirstLight Trust trustee

James served in the Royal Navy as a Reserve Officer for more than 20 years, rising to the rank of Commander. He is also a Professional Chartered Engineer with more than 40 years’ experience, spending over half of that time within the NHS.

Many of James’ multi-million pound projects involved estate management, and managing schemes from concept to post project evaluation. He has been the non-executive Chairman of the housing association Beyond Housing and involved in the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association Yorkshire and Humber.

Vice Chair: Simon Hodges

Simon Hodges

Simon is a former Coldstream Guards officer where he served on operational tours including Bosnia in 1994.

As a result of his own life journey and seeing PTSD’s impact, Simon is passionate about teaching people the tools for great mental health. He believes they are not taught nearly widely enough in society today.

Simon is a chartered accountant. Previously he was CEO of the Family Office of one of Middle East’s oldest trading families. He was also a partner of the international trust services firm Rawlinson & Hunter and a senior manager with the Swire Group.

Today Simon helps transform people’s lives in his coaching practice. He also works on improving family dynamics and enabling a transition of wealth to the next generation at Oxford Place.

Trustee: Dorinda Wolfe Murray

Dorinda’s father was a Gordon Highlander and she comes from a military family. She has witnessed first-hand the catastrophic impact PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can have on lives.

As the founder of the award-winning Independent Gardening Ltd. Dorinda creates outside space for sufferers of brain injuries and mental health issues. These spaces are designed to make people feel comforted and absorbed in the pleasure of their surroundings. The therapeutic garden shown at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is now located at Tyrwhitt House, a treatment centre for combat stress in Surrey.

Regiments: The Yorkshire Regiment

The Yorkshire Regiment logo

The Army’s Yorkshire Regiment consists of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and the Prince of Wales Own.


Ink Gardener Copywriting

Ink Gardener Copywriting and Social Media logo

Helen Reynolds from Ink Gardener Copywriting donates extra time towards looking after our web content and social media accounts.

She is the great-granddaughter of a WWI ambulance driver, the granddaughter of a WWII Lancaster bomber pilot and a fan of the novels written by our patron Bernard Cornwell.


Podio logo

This company is generously supporting us in technology to help our charity work more efficiently. Podio sets up online meetings, messaging, file storage and calendars to help any organisation function more smoothly.

Awards and grants

The Covenant Fund

Armed Forces Covenant Fund logo

The £10 million Covenant Fund comes from the government. The Covenant is a promise from the nation to treat fairly those who serve or have served, and their families.

European Social Fund (ESF) and Education and Skills Funding Agency

European Social Fund and Education and Skills Funding Agency logos

We are a delivery partner for ESF Community Grants. ESF Community Grants are funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The aim of the fund is to help unemployed people progress towards employment through access to learning and training opportunities. Funding supports activities in Redcar.

The National Lottery Community Fund

National Lottery Community Fund logo

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK.

Veterans’ Foundation

Veterans' Foundation logo

The Veterans’ Foundation is a nationwide source of funding for our UK charity for veterans and other armed forces charities. It acquires funds through the Veterans’ Lottery and donations.