Voices of Impact & Champions of Change: Get Acquainted With our Charity Ambassadors
Welcome to Woody’s Lodge, where the spirit of service and community converge to create a haven for veterans and their families. At the heart of our mission are the extraordinary individuals who embody our commitment to making a positive impact — our Charity Ambassadors. These dedicated volunteers, veterans, and allies go beyond advocacy; they are the driving force behind our goals, the storytellers of our impact, and the catalysts for transformative change. Join us on this journey as we introduce you to our Charity Ambassadors, each a beacon of hope and strength. Together, they form the heartbeat of Woody’s Lodge, and through their unwavering dedication, we strive to bring life-changing services to those who once served our beautiful nation. Explore their brave journeys, discover their responsibilities, and find out how you can support our veteran charity to ensure that no veteran in Wales faces the challenges of life alone.
Richie Bartle, a former Royal Marine, embarked on his journey in 2008, showcasing exceptional courage during his impactful tour in Afghanistan (Herrick 12). Transitioning to the UK Special Forces (SBS) in 2012, Richie completed four overseas operations before an unexpected medical discharge in 2020 due to noise-induced hearing loss. Undeterred, Richie turned adversity into opportunity, founding HMG Clothing for combat-inspired apparel and co-founding East Chase Distillers, an artisan gin distillery. With a deep connection to Paul (Woody) Woodland from their SBS days, Richie’s story extends beyond the battlefield, reflecting the strength of the human spirit. Now, as a proud Charity Ambassador for Woody’s Lodge, he brings his unique experiences to inspire others and foster community support.
As a former Royal Signals Soldier deployed to numerous operations, Gina Allsop’s dedication is extraordinary. Gina embodies the spirit of service, receiving accolades like the Soldiering On Inspiration Award and the Veterans Award Volunteer of the Year for her outstanding charity work. She’s a fundraiser and motivational speaker, contributing her voice to various veteran charity events, supporting organisations like SSAFA, Sporting Force, and ACCT UK. Gina’s commitment transcends the spotlight, volunteering for the Army Cadet Force, serving as a Marine Mammal medic, and passionately advocating for mental health through her role as an ambassador for End Suicide. In memory of her brother, she founded an art foundation for cancer patients, showcasing her dedication to creating spaces of relief. Now a Charity Ambassador for Woody’s Lodge, Gina’s powerhouse spirit resonates with her deep sense of service, continuing her impactful journey in support of veterans and their families.
Gordon Barclay, affectionately known as “Porty,” is a celebrated former policeman from Portobello, Edinburgh, Scotland, with a heart dedicated to helping others. Commencing his formidable journey in 1989 with the Metropolitan Police, he spent an impressive 35 years in various roles, earning the prestigious Queens Police Medal in 2021 for outstanding contributions to Covert Policing. Seeking solace from the demands of his career in 2017, Gordon discovered the joy of cycling, transforming it into a powerful fundraising tool for numerous charities. His cycling adventures intersected with Woody’s Lodge, creating a profound resonance with our Co-Chair Clive Hamilton and the mission of our veteran charity. As a dedicated mental health first aider, Gordon is now fully committed to supporting Woody’s Lodge, leading teams of cyclists in veteran charity events and tirelessly working to amplify our presence within the emergency services. Now a recently appointed Charity Ambassador, Gordon continues to make a positive impact in the lives of those who need it most.
Steve Owen is a living embodiment of courage and resilience. From his early army days to facing serious injuries in Afghanistan, Steve’s commitment remained steadfast. Despite a life-altering amputation upon his return to the UK, he emerged as a beacon of hope, walking over 700 miles for charity, setting world records, and proving that adversity can be transformed into an unbreakable source of strength. In 2020, he joined Woody’s Lodge, leaving an indelible mark as the West and Mid Wales Project Manager and eventually rising to the pivotal role of Operations Manager. April 2023 marked a new chapter for the veteran as he embarked on a family-run venture—Siop Fferm Cherry Picked, a farm-shop/deli on the scenic West coast of Wales. Here, he continues to nurture family roots and enrich the community, perpetuating the values of service that have defined his incredible life. Steve’s unshakeable determination and ability to transform adversity into strength serve as an inspiration to us all.
Dai, a native of Pontarddulais near Swansea, is not only a family man, married to Laurene with two daughters, but also a sports enthusiast through and through. His early rugby days playing for Pontarddulais RFC showcase his dedication and passion for sports, a journey that has since evolved to embrace running, skiing, and, most notably, cycling. Dai’s remarkable achievements include skiing the equivalent of Mount Everest’s height daily for five consecutive days to support the MS Trust, completing two London marathons, and participating in countless charitable cycling events across Europe. His contributions have benefited numerous organisations, including SAAFA, Ty Hafan, Velindre, and Scoliosis research. Among his notable feats is cycling from John O’Groats to Lands End in just 7 days, a challenge he undertook for The Cardiac Unit in Morriston Hospital. A pivotal moment in Dai’s journey was his participation in a charity cycle from Cardiff to Edinburgh early last year alongside Alix Popham, supporting Head for Change. This initiative further underscores his commitment to making a difference through sports.It was during a SAAFA ride that Dai met Clive, which ignited his inspiration to get involved with Woody’s Lodge. Dai has since been an integral part of our community, helping to lead two extraordinary cycling events and connecting with incredible individuals along the way. We are honoured that Dai has accepted the role of ambassador, and we look forward to his continued involvement in Woody’s Lodge’s cycling and various other events. Dai’s dedication and spirit are an inspiration to us all, and we’re excited to see how his journey with Woody’s Lodge unfolds, for as long as his legs will carry him!