Chris Gillan has first-hand experience of the work of Armed Forces’ charities.
While serving in Afghanistan alongside the SAS, he suffered a training injury that would later end his career. Back home, he struggled with the transition to civilian life.
Unable to take a fitness test to join the Police, his injuries led to a period of unemployment. His home was also flooded and he was left homeless.
“My financial position led me to turn to the Armed Forces’ charities for support,” explained Chris.
“The support they gave helped to provide a foundation from which to rebuild my life outside the military.”
With career options limited by injury, and inspired by the support of the charities, Chris was determined to find ways to help fellow veterans. In particular, he wanted to help those with injuries find employment, as well as bridging the charities’ funding gap caused by reduced media exposure following the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The result was Heroes Drink Company, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to employing injured veterans and supporting the forces’ charities by pledging donations from sales.
Founded in 2011, Heroes Drinks launched the first in its range two years later: Heroes Vodka, a high quality yet affordable vodka. Today, Heroes Drinks Company supports all three services equally and has formed partnership with the Royal Navy & Royal Marine Charity, the Army Benevolent Fund and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.
With several family members having served in the armed forces, including his great uncle (pictured above) who served with the parachute regiment during WW2, Chris had ambitions of a military career from an early age
For Chris, the connections today extend a proud life within the Armed Forces. He is the son of a soldier from the Royal Highland Fusiliers, and was born in a military hospital in Germany. He spent his early years living at British military bases around the world and attended The Royal Caledonian military school in Watford. After serving with the Territorial Army, Chris joined the military in 2001 and was deployed on operations in the UK, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, he was seconded to the SAS (Special Air Service) where, after several months training, he was deployed to Afghanistan as part of an Afghan Police Mentoring Team. It was during training that he sustained the injury that would ultimately signal a new and rewarding chapter in his life.