Sitting down for a chat with The Not Forgotten’s Chief Executive, Colonel (RETD) Richard Walker OBE, and Head of Events, Rosie Thompson MBE, on a warm, sunny afternoon at Beaver Run Resort, gave a vivid picture of their passion and the work that goes into this important organization. The Not Forgotten is a veteran-centric service charity based in London, England and serving all of the UK. Their objective is “To act generally for the benefit of service and ex-service personnel with disabilities or who are wounded, including the organisation or provision of items or facilities for leisure and recreational activities, travel, holidays and outings.” Since 2014, they have been offering ski holidays in Breckenridge, Colorado, in partnership with the BOEC to their members.

The Not Forgotten skiers in Breckenridge, Colorado proudly flying their flag

The Not Forgotten has a small but powerful team. Colonel Walker, or Richard as he prefers to be called, brings energy and a world of experience to his leadership role. He previously worked with the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) as Head of Engineering Services. As a 25-year veteran of the British Army, he was commissioned into the Royal Engineers from RMA Sandhurst in 1994. During his military service, he served in the Airborne Commando and Gurkha units where he eventually instructed at RMA Sandhurst and commanded The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers Regiment. His experience is extensive including multiple tours in Afghanistan and appointment as Head of the British Army International Interoperability Programme. In addition to his work at The Not Forgotten, he serves as Chairman of The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers Association. In his spare time, Richard enjoys a good day on the slopes, telemark skiing, as well as kayaking, surfing, cycling and motorsports. He lives in Surrey, England with his wife and two children. 

Rosie’s vibrant, caring personality suits her position in leading events and fundraising for The Not Forgotten. Her 25-year tenure at this association has given her immense experience and knowledge which she shares with enthusiasm. Rosie has seen The Not Forgotten grow significantly over the years, helping thousands of veterans, and during the COVID-19 pandemic pivoted to ensure that the types of events they offered made it possible for veterans to connect with others and have necessary resources still available.

Rosie is passionate about outdoor activities and has run an impressive 36 marathons, many half marathons, and long distance challenges. Her crowning achievement in the running world was completing a strenuous ultra marathon also known as Marathon Des Sables “The Toughest Footrace on Earth.” This six day, 156 mile+, arduous running challenge, in sweltering temperatures, takes athletes across the Sahara Desert. She was awarded a much treasured medal for her 2017 completion of this long-held ambition. Rosie lives in Sussex, England with her husband Mark and much loved cocker spaniel Bridie. 

Rosie Thompson and Johnnie Ray

Rosie Thompson and Johnnie Ray

The Not Forgotten was founded in the 1920s by Marta Cunningham, an American opera singer and charity worker during the First World War, who took an interest in the veterans in the UK and decided to offer comfort, cheer, and entertainment by organizing events for these war heroes to ensure that they were not forgotten.  This group has historically had a special connection to the Royal Family who have played a large part in the events offered and continue to host royal events each year recognizing the importance of The Not Forgotten. In fact, this is the only veteran organization in Great Britain with a Royal Patronage – Princess Anne, since 2000.

Close to 10,000 men participated in events in the first year after WWI; to date they have served around one million men and women with current yearly membership exceeding 11,000. The organization has grown to offer an ever-expanding variety of services and events thanks to incredible support and the hard work of the team dedicated to The Not Forgotten. 

The mountain ski trips they offer have been challenging yet rewarding experiences for these men and women helping to build self confidence, achievement, and morale. These are not the only benefits gained however, the veterans who participate each year have the opportunity to build relationships, make valuable social connections, and build a network that often lasts long past the week long ski program with the BOEC in Breckenridge. Kirk, an NFA member, shares,

“This trip is invaluable for personal development.  It is the first major trip I have made after a difficult period of COVID, isolation, relocation and re-employment.  Having the opportunity to escape, reset and meet new friends will leave a lasting legacy.” 

Adaptive skier Johnnie Ray

Adaptive skier Johnnie Ray

When immersed in this community over the course of multiple days, there is a community environment that forms with shared stories and experiences, the excitement afterwards is palpable. Billy, another NFA participant, said,

“I would recommend this event to veterans because it helps with confidence issues, it gets veterans integrated back into outside activity.  It clears and resets other issues that one may be going through and gets veterans back into a social circle and improves one’s social network. Just good all round for social wellbeing.”

Another member of The Not Forgotten, Jules, stated

“I arrived here with a lot of emotions from an intense 10 weeks. This has given me the chance to reset and focus before I see my family tomorrow, thank you for the trip I didn’t think I needed.”

This valuable experience is shared by word of mouth by participants resulting in significant interest in this program every winter.

BOEC ski instructor Maeve Ennis and The Not Forgotten participant Jules Walker

Over the past nine years that The Not Forgotten have been coming to ski with the BOEC, a solid relationship of trust and respect has formed. Breckenridge, Colorado has been a good fit for The Not Forgotten participants, with the wide open feeling on the mountain there is less stress for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, the adaptive equipment supplied by the BOEC along with instruction and camaraderie offered by BOEC staff and volunteers has worked well to suit veterans who need it to safely traverse the mountain. 

There is a sense of familiarity that the BOEC Adaptive Ski Program team will offer consistent and reliable service to the participants from The Not Forgotten leading to a strong bond of mutual respect for one another.  Volunteers travel from across the country and from the UK and Scotland to be a part of the NFA program each February, some of whom started as participants and now return to support their fellow veterans during their week of skiing, socializing and support for one another. This has all contributed to a positive, confidence building experience for these veterans and for some, they can once again ski with their families.

Geraint Hillard cruising down the mountain

Geraint Hillard cruising down the mountain

The Director of the BOEC Adaptive Ski & Ride Program, Jeff Inouye explained,

“The BOEC Ski Program has partnered with The Not Forgotten for almost 10 years to bring disabled military members from the UK to Breckenridge to ski and snowboard.  Our instructors, interns and volunteers always look forward to having this amazing group of people visit us every year.  They are always great to work with and are truly thankful for the opportunity to participate in this trip to Breckenridge!  We have had participants with The Not Forgotten that have returned to the BOEC as volunteers and even been part of the internship program.  They have made an incredible impact on our program, staff and volunteers.  We look forward to continuing this partnership for many years!” 

The stories of individuals that Richard and Rosie shared during our conversation were both heartbreaking and heartwarming with a resounding theme of resilience. There are so many amazing stories to share in fact that we have decided to share them in upcoming editions of BOEC’s Inspirations newsletter. Stories like Jack who came as a participant with The Not Forgotten in February of 2022 and returned just eight months later to be a part of the 2022-23 BOEC winter internship program. And “H” as he is affectionately known, a below the knee amputee, who decided to change from snowboarding to skiing so that he could ski with the members of the youth group he mentors back home and the support he received from Aleks Godowski, a below the knee amputee himself, and a previous BOEC intern, as he navigated the use of his new ski leg while learning to ski. 

All smiles from The Not Forgotten on this sunny ski day

As H said in his own words about skiing with the BOEC in February,

“I started this trip nervous and anxious and unable to integrate or socialize. I feel the team encouraged me and everyone was accepting, this made me feel comfortable enough to speak to others and not feel isolated. I have been feeling alone and very low for some time. I have overcome many negative experiences and this trip has taught me I am not alone or the only one feeling or experiencing the things I do. I have learned to ski, learned to talk about my feelings and experiences.  I now feel recharged and ready to go back to my family, happier and less anxious. This trip will also benefit them because I will be in a better place now. Also I feel more confident after the skiing lessons I have had and I can now assist my school when they go away on their school ski trip”

Jen Baltz, Billy Drinkwater, Kirk Bowett, Caleigh Sewell, Brad Baltz

Stay tuned for these impactful accounts in upcoming newsletter editions! 

We thank The Not Forgotten for spending time skiing with the BOEC each year and look forward to welcoming you back next year! For more information about The Not Forgotten, please visit