1313. Mark Evans
1314. Charles Foinette
Mark Evans and Major Charles Foinette, from London, created the ‘Waterloo Uncovered’ project to unite rehabilitating veterans with ground-breaking archaeological excavations of the Waterloo battlefield.
Mark and Charles joined the Coldstream Guards after both studying archaeology together at University College London. Returning from Afghanistan in 2010, Mark was diagnosed with PTSD, and his recovery was supported by Charles over four years. Mark began by participating in a Ministry of Defence project supporting veterans through archaeology. He and Charles then set up their own project to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015. Since then, their initiative has grown into the registered charity ‘Waterloo Uncovered’, which runs annual excavations and has established an 12-month programme of support to help veterans through their recovery. Over 5,000 objects have been excavated from the battlefield, helping to create new understandings of one of the most famous battles in history.
In a personal letter to Mark, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how you are helping those who have bravely served our country to find purpose and wellbeing through your incredible archaeological project, preserving our heritage while supporting our fine veterans.”
In a personal letter to Charles, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“You are giving up so much of your time, alongside your military career, to support veterans who have served our country. Your project is also a wonderful testament to our nation’s history.”
Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden, who represents the Office for Veterans Affairs (OVA) in Cabinet, said:
“This award recognises the selfless commitment Mark and Charles have shown in setting up and running this fantastic charity to help veterans with their recovery.
“We want to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran, and achieving this will require a team effort from the government, our partners and innovative charities. It is very inspiring to hear of projects such as ‘Waterloo Uncovered’ which help veterans who fall into difficulty.”
Mark Evans said:
“Waterloo Uncovered has been using archaeology to add to the story of the Battle of Waterloo since 2015. Just as important as the history is the project’s ability to change lives today. There’s an urgent need to support veterans and serving personnel in overcoming some of the physical and mental impacts of their service. Charlie and I realised that archaeology could play a part in reaching out to people in need of help with their recovery. Through taking part in the dig, veterans and serving personnel have the chance to mix in a safe and supported environment, learn new skills, deepen their interest in history and perhaps find the inspiration for new options for the future. What began as a small-scale dig has developed into a twelve month programme supporting participants with recovery, wellbeing, transition into civilian life, education and employment. We couldn’t achieve this without the collaboration of a number of charities and the NHS. We’re delighted that this award recognises us for our relevance today.”
Major Charles Foinette said:
“Waterloo Uncovered brings an amazing team together: we’ve got world-class archaeologists working alongside veterans, serving personnel, students and a range of volunteers from different walks of life and specialisms. We’re proud, too, that there’s a significant presence on the dig from some of the other European nations who share with us the history of the battle and alongside whom we still serve today. What enabled us to kick-start our work was a contribution of funds from LIBOR and the Armed Forces Covenant Trust. It’s a great example of how Government support can make a real difference to the welfare of veterans and serving personnel.”
Pictured below: Mark Evans, Charles Foinette, and some of the veterans supporting excavations at Waterloo (credit: Chris van Houts).