Hurstpierpoint woman helps injured service people achieve what was ‘unimaginable’

When Rosemary Thompson isn’t organising garden parties, attending them at Buckingham Palace or raising unimaginable amounts of money, she is running a marathon, or competing in a gruelling ultra race across the Sahara.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 3:28 pm
Rosemary Thompson
Rosemary Thompson

Rosie, 62 from Hurstpierpoint has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to the Armed Forces Community.

She is head of events with the Not Forgotten Association (NFA) and her citation describes how she displays exceptional compassion and empathy to those who feel isolated, lonely or vulnerable.

Rosie said: “I love what I do and to be honoured in this way is just wonderful.”

She used to work for Sight Savers in Haywards Heath and went on: “Rather than just have input into a charity, the part I enjoy the most is working with people, so when this opportunity turned up I grabbed it with both hands. I can’t begin to say how wonderful it is to see your work make a difference to seriously injured servicemen and women.”

She is the driving force behind meeting the needs of a new generation of beneficiaries, now up to 10,000 a year, and makes sure this national charity remains relevant.

Rosie’s strength was identifying that younger people need to be challenged in order to recover, hence accompanying them on marathons.

She accompanied a seriously wounded soldier who had been shot in the head on the tough Marathon des Sables, (a former competitor was James Cracknell) in 42 degrees. To date she has run 36 marathons.

She explained: “Service people, young and old, also miss comradeship and that where we can help. We encourage them to look beyond their injuries and give them confidence.”

Many have become artists, outdoor activity leaders, work with charities or realise previously unimaginable lifetime goals. In her volunteering activities she has raised about £250,000 for the NFA and under her leadership, the charity is now reaching even more isolated and lonely beneficiaries.

The NFA has supported 220,000 individuals during her time and many of its remarkable achievements are seen as her personal triumph.

When we spoke to Rosie she had just returned from organising nine Christmas lunches across the UK.