Teesside firm First Choice Labels is backing global military heroes taking part in the Invictus Games by providing free luggage labels for all 550 competitors from 17 nations.
The third Invictus Games, which uses the power of adaptive sport to help wounded veterans on their journey to recovery, takes place in Toronto for a week starting Saturday September 23.
And First Choice Labels are playing their part by ensuring every participant flying into Canada from countries as far flung as Australia, Jordan, Ukraine and the United States, as well as the UK, will be able to easily identify their luggage and specialist equipment on arrival at the busy airport.
Nigel Willis, the Redcar firm’s managing director, says he is “incredibly proud” to be supporting those taking part in the games, which were established by Prince Harry in 2014.
“We’re incredibly proud to be offering our services free of charge to those competing at the Invictus Games,” said Nigel. “Through family connections and friends, the military is incredibly close to my heart.
“So when charity Help for Heroes contacted us with a view to purchasing labels from us, I quickly came to a decision that we’d donate our services free of charge.”
First Choice Labels have supplied hi-vis sticky labels for the names and details of all the competitors which they’re confident will help them easily spot their luggage and equipment as it rolls around the conveyor belt at the airport’s luggage collection point.
“If we can help in some tiny way when people have made such a contribution and sacrifice for our safety then I don’t have to think twice.
“Historically, the military is in my blood, though I’m one of the few members of my family who followed a path into business instead.
“Several family members have served in the military while I know several injured servicemen, so it’s naturally close to my heart.
“I have utmost respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line for the freedoms we all enjoy. None of us who haven’t served in those occupations could ever understand just how traumatic it can be.
“So it was prestigious just to be asked to help out with The Invictus Games, we’re delighted to be donating our services and we’ve offered our help for any future work too.”
Among those benefiting from the donation are Stockton Riverside College employee Seveci Navelinikoro – known as Nav – who has been selected to compete in sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, shot put and discuss, having won three medals at previous Invictus Games.
First Choice Labels have been sponsors of the Household Cavalry Foundation, a charity for ex-servicemen, for the past three years.
Nigel has previously taken part in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge alongside ex-Paras, SAS and members of the Special Boat Service to raise funds for a paratrooper injured in action, while he recently supported a Lyke Wake Walk challenge by members of Cleveland Police for Blue Light, a mental health charity for the services.
From its seven presses within its 10,000 square feet factory on Redcar’s Kirkleatham Business Park, First Choice Labels produces up to 10 million labels a week for customers across a range of industries as well as the Ministry of Defence and NHS.
• Pictured (above): First Choice Labels managing director Nigel Willis is joined by Invictus Games competitor Seveci Navelinikoro to celebrate the Redcar firm providing luggage labels for participants in the 2017 tournament in Toronto.