Friends and family arrive to cheer on Invictus Games Athletes

Friends and family of the sick, injured and wounded Service and veteran personnel taking part in the Invictus Games have flown out to Orlando to cheer them on.

The UK team arrived to begin their training, prelims and trials in the US on Wednesday May 4, with the full competition due to open on Sunday evening.

Among those arriving to show support for the team was Kath Ryan, known as The Cake Lady, who runs her own charity called Cakes 4 Casualties.

Kath became involved with sick, wounded and injured personnel when visiting her sister as a patient in Selly Oak hospital, Birmingham in 2009.

“I took some cakes in to her to cheer her up and she shared them with the injured soldiers who were there,” she said.

“Like most people then I didn’t really have a concept of how many people were coming back injured and I wanted to be able to do something to help.

“The guys said to my sister to tell me to ring more cakes so I arranged with the ward that I would bake enough for the 35 that were there and just fell in love with the guys.

“I thought I couldn’t do this only once so seven years later I’m still doing it.

“It is such a privilege and a joy to be doing this for them. To be here is just amazing.

“I have seen these guys at their worst when they came back from Afghan, lost a lot of weight and were at the very beginning of their recovery path, and now I get to see them competing at a top world sporting event, it is just so amazing.”

As well as Selly Oak, Kath also visits Headley Court once a month and also Hasler Company, and is so popular among the personnel that they invite her to visit them wherever and whenever they can.

Former Army captain Dave Henson is one of the many personnel grateful for Kath’s efforts.

A double lower limb amputee after stepping on a hidden IED in Afghanistan in 2011, Dave will be competing at track and field events at the Invictus Games and is training for the Paralympics in Rio.

“Kath has been a superstar throughout my recovery,” he said.

“When I was injured I was flown to Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham and she came bowling in with her huge personality and an even bigger trolley of cakes to bring some much needed morale into the hospital ward.

“It became a focal point for people throughout their time in the hospital and Headley Court as well, just looking forward to her cakes coming in and Kath’s beaming smile.

“It is only right that someone so instrumental to our recovery should be here with us for the Games.”

It is only right that someone so instrumental to our recovery should be here with us for the Games.

Former Army captain Dave Henson