AN Invictus Games gold medallist is has detailed his gratitude for an armed forces charity that aims to put RAF veterans ‘back on the radar’.

Andy Philips, who won gold in archery at the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014, has told of the boost the RAF Benevolent Fund gave him after returning from service.

The Fund provided Mr Philips with a sports wheelchair, which he described as having an ‘immediate impact’ and that it felt like a ‘weight off his shoulders’.

He said: “I was able to take part in the Games because of it, which really turned my life around.

“Without the help of the Fund I wouldn’t be able to do the things I want to do. Knowing that the Fund is there for me in the future is a fantastic feeling.

“If times get hard I know I could approach them and that I will always have their support.”

The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity, who vow to support current and former members of the RAF, their partners and dependants

In 2018 they spent £21M supporting more than 53,000 members of the RAF Family

Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, Chief Executive of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “We know they’re out there - men and women who once served, and now need our help.

No veteran should be left fighting alone, whether that be in the face of financial, emotional or health problems.

“Too many ex-Service people do not seek the support that is rightfully theirs due to misplaced pride, shame or through not knowing support is there.

The Fund was able to provide a wheelchair specifically designed for sports, and Andy’s new found love for sports led him to apply for the first Invictus Games in 2014. He was selected to represent the UK in archery and competed in his sports wheelchair.

The former Malmesbury RAF armourer joined the force at 17 and completed tours in Germany, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and the Falkland Islands but suffered from a prolapsed disk when he returned, which left him unable to walk without severe pain.

Leaving the RAF was a blow to Mr Philips and found it hard to get used to normal life afterwards.

He said: “All I’d wanted to do since I was 10 years old was be in the RAF.

“When I left the RAF I felt like I’d lost the camaraderie, trust and friendship that goes

along with it.

"I was very stubborn and proud and didn’t want to ask anyone for help.”