Armed Forces Fundraising champion
2125. Mark Harding
Lance Corporal Mark Harding, from Cumbria, was paralysed from the neck down when shot during active service in 2010 in Afghanistan, but has since raised thousands for Armed Forces charities through fundraising walks and other challenges including paracanoeing, dragon boat racing and, during lockdown, virtual rows.
Mark served with the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment for 16 years before his injury, and his close connection with military causes inspired him to raise money for charities including ‘ABF The Soldiers’ Charity’ and ‘Walking With The Wounded’. In addition to fundraising, in 2022 he helped to set up ‘The Project Belief Foundation’ to highlight the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in our society and to help families and veterans struggling in the North West and the North East.
On this day, Mark will complete his latest challenge which has seen him walk 1,000 miles from John O’Groats to Lands End over 13 weeks, to be the worlds first Disabled person to walk unsupported, on crutches. Mark’s challenge was in celebration of the King’s Coronation, and has seen him fundraise for the charity ‘Scotty’s Little Soldiers’, founded by fellow Point of Light Nikki Scott.
In a personal letter to Mark, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“Like so many people in this country, I am inspired by your courage to complete your long rehabilitation following the terrible injuries you received in Afghanistan and your determination to undertake such amazing fundraising challenges.
“Over the past decade, successive Prime Ministers have recognised someone every day for their service to others by naming them as a Point of Light. One of those Points of Light is Nikki Scott, whose fantastic charity you supported in your latest challenge. I am pleased to be able to continue that tradition and would like to thank you in the same way.”
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Rt Hon. Johnny Mercer MP, said:
“Lance Corporal Mark Harding refused to be held back by the injuries sustained serving his country. He brilliantly showcases the commitment of veterans across the country.
“I want to thank Mark for his excellent work fundraising tirelessly for third sector charity partners who do so much to support our ex-military personnel.”
Congratulating Mark on his award, Dr Neil Hudson, Mark’s local MP for Penrith and The Border said:
“Mark’s tenacity and fortitude to pivot his life-changing injuries into a story of hope is so humbling. A selfless campaigner, he has the resilience that few could ever match and is using this to raise money for Armed Forces Charities including improving the lives of bereaved young people across the country.
“I must extend my sincere thanks to Mark for his service to our country and I know I speak for everyone when I say a huge congratulations for his fundraising. Mark truly is inspirational.”
“I am delighted and honoured to receive this award. I was that taken aback and I was actually unsure if it was real when I read the email. To be recognised by the Prime Minister for the charitable work I have done is really honouring to me and Scotty’s. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and honoured to have my work recognised in this way.”