The Battle Back programme

Sport and training programmes for wounded, injured and sick personnel from across the Armed Forces.


Battle Back is an adaptive sport and adventurous training programme for wounded, injured and sick (WIS) personnel from across the Armed Forces, including mobilised reservists. It is is an MOD initiative delivered in partnership with Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion.

  • Battle Back programmes are designed to promote confidence and independence and help accelerate physical, psychological and social recovery throughout the duration of recovery – inspiring the wounded, injured and sick to focus on what they can do not what they cannot.
  • Battle Back is for servicemen, servicewomen and veterans.
  • Battle Back Phoenix for WIS veterans is operated and funded by Help for Heroes. Help for Heroes is acknowledged as the Founder Partner of Battle Back, and has been involved from the outset providing financial and design input.

Battle Back is a MOD-led programme which is delivered, funded and organised in partnership with Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and other service charities. Battle Back Phoenix is also available to WIS veterans but funded separately by Help for Heroes.

Physical development is a key component in recovery and the Battle Back programme and activities are designed to promote confidence and independence in direct support of an IRP. Regular participation in adaptive sport, adventure training and other activities can help the individual to focus on those things they are able to achieve, rather than what they cannot, in order to improve resilience, develop confidence, improve motivation and develop positive relationships that will enhance recovery.

In support of the Battle Back programme, the Battle Back Centre has been established by The Royal British Legion at the National Sports’ Centre, Lilleshall. Battle Back programmes and activities can be delivered from the Battle Back Centre Lilleshall the Defence Medical and Rehabilitation Centre (Headley Court), the personnel recovery centres (PRCs) at Tidworth, Catterick and Colchester, the Naval Service Recovery Centre (which also delivers a bespoke Fortitude programme) as well as at specialist centres both in the UK and abroad. In addition adaptive sports and adventurous training will be delivered from the PRCs at Edinburgh and in Germany.

Battle Back at DMRC, Headley Court

For those servicemen and women receiving treatment at Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) Headley Court, Battle Back activity begins here with WIS being encouraged to join in some form of outdoor activity such as water skiing, golf, clay pigeon shooting or cycling. These activities are in addition to the normal rehabilitation programme carried out at DMRC and are carefully designed to supplement it. A couple of hours on a water-ski builds confidence, is physically beneficial and is tremendous fun, something that is missing from much of the daily routine of getting better.

The Battle Back activities at DMRC are delivered by MOD staff alongside staff funded by Help for Heroes.

Battle Back Centre, Lilleshall

As WIS individuals move further along the Recovery Pathway they will take part in a week of activities at the Battle Back Centre Lilleshall that builds upon the experience begun at DMRC. The Battle Back Centre has been established by The Royal British Legion at the National Sports’ Centre, Lilleshall. It will provide a residential capacity for up to 24 residential personnel. The Legion are funding and leading the creation and operation of the Centre. The Centre is hosted at Lilleshall by Sport England in the Eaton, Colson, Altham House complex.

The Battle Back Centre, Lilleshall seeks to create a dynamic and enjoyable learning environment that promotes success at the personal, interpersonal and organisational levels. Participants in the programmes will increase their self-confidence, gain motivation, improve their ability to deal with stress and develop a positive mental attitude. They will learn to focus on what they can do not on what they cannot.

The Centre will achieve this through the provision of high quality, people centred, adaptive sport and adventurous training activities that are relevant to each individual’s recovery plan as well as being safe, enjoyable, benchmarked against international standards, independently evaluated and delivered by committed world-class coaching staff. These activities include such things as indoor climbing, watersports, indoor caving, wheelchair basketball, archery and wheelchair badminton. For those who wish to take these further, a return to Lilleshall to take the activities to a higher level is possible.

The Army are providing the staff required to command and care for serving soldiers while at the Battle Back Centre.

Battle Back at the personnel recovery centres

WIS can expect to attend one of the personnel recovery centres during the recovery period and there he or she can continue Battle Back activities under the guidance of military staff working closely with staff employed by Help for Heroes. As part of an individual’s recovery plan Battle Back activities are offered at the centres in Tidworth, Catterick and Colchester with adaptive sports and adventurous training activities offered at Edinburgh and in Germany.

Superb gym facilities are provided at each Centre where physical fitness can be maintained and team games such as sitting volleyball and sitting tennis can be enjoyed. At Tedworth House for example, a Skiplex, one of only two in the UK, allow for the WIS to learn to ski in a safe and controlled environment, and a Swimex and Anti-Gravity treadmill enable WIS to continue their physical recovery.

External activities such as fishing, canoeing, sailing, golf, swimming, riding, sub aqua diving, parachuting, archery, cycling, sledge hockey, shooting and even flying are available to both serving and veteran WIS from the Recovery Centres.

To date over 1,500 WIS Personnel have participated in Help for Heroes-funded grass-roots elective activities.

Battle Back Expeditions and Elite Sports

Many recovering servicemen and women and veterans wish to take their activities to a higher level and can do so with the Battle Back initiative, some rising to a competitive, even Paralympics level. Men and women who first enjoyed standing on a water-ski in the early days at Headley Court are now competing in cycling, skiing, athletics and sledge hockey while others have gone on to gain their pilot’s licences.

Charity funding and support has enabled recovering Service personnel to take part in many activities including motor sports, skiing, mountain climbing, expeditions and cycling. Recently, Help for Heroes have supported and funded international events such as The Warrior Games in America and the ultimate challenge of the Ride Across America.

Battle Back Phoenix for WIS Veterans

Battle Back activity does not end when a WIS individual leaves the services. WIS veterans can continue to enjoy sport, expeditions, elite and adventurous activities through the Help for Heroes-funded Battle Back Phoenix programme, which are based on the programme delivered at the Help for Heroes-led recovery centres.

Published 12 December 2012