Chairman’s Report: Kicking Off 2024

Chairman’s Report: Kicking Off 2024

The Commando Welfare Trust was able to get Taraidh home in time for Christmas
I am delighted to present the first Commando Welfare Trust Chairman’s Report for 2024.
So far this year, we have taken strong strides forward in our mission to build on the momentum from our record-breaking 2023, which was driven by a real need for support.
In short, our goal is to have a continued focus on increasing our presence so we can raise more funds to support our growing list of 47 beneficiaries and provide more services to better serve Australia’s Special Forces community.
Year-to-date, we have delivered back-to-school packs, run mental health initiatives, formed tertiary education partnerships and are hosting a Cocktail Party on Saturday 23rd March 2024 (Buy Tickets here).
As we continue to take on more beneficiaries and expand our role, please help us spread the word by sharing this email with others so we can continue to support Special Forces soldiers, veterans, and family members where the system cannot.
Together, we can build a network of Australians committed to making a difference.
See below for an update on our recent activity.

Taraidh Colquhoun Returns Home

In May 2023, an Australian Special Forces veteran, Taraidh Colquhoun, suffered severe injuries in a mountain bike accident, which required surgery to restore a break in the C6-7 of his spine.
Taraidh was initially placed in an induced coma in Melbourne after being transported from a hospital in Tasmania.
After a seven-month journey, the family finally returned home to Tasmania in December 2023. See below for an update sent by the family.
“The support was not just financial, it was emotional, assuring us we had mates. The Commando Welfare Trust made sure the unit and anyone in Melbourne knew so they could reach out and visit.
During those dark days in ICU, Acute Care and Rehab having guys just come in and talk smack with Taraidh, I can honestly say kept him going.
Then there was the financial help, without it, we would have struggled to be in Melbourne for seven months. My workplace did what they could and looked after me, but reality hit when I knew it’d be months if not years before I could return to work with a young child and Taraidh having to adapt.
The CWT took care of our son’s daycare fees so that I could be by Taraidh’s side. They flew our eldest up, every 3-4 weeks, without question, so that he could see and be with his Dad. They paid for assistive technology so Taraidh could call me, and not lose his mind in the hospital. The speed and willingness to support was pretty much immediate which gave us reassurance in a time of such uncertainty.
Now we’re eight months down the road and the support hasn’t stopped.
CWT pulled out all the stops to get us back to Tasmania and continue to support us where they can. Our home, which needs extensive renovations, will take time, so the CWT got us an interim solution, which allowed us to get back in time for Christmas.
What means the most to us, is knowing the kids are looked after with their schooling being taken care of.
I have no doubt, that with continued support from sponsors and donations, we will continue to be supported as our lives adapt to our family’s tragedy.
Us being here, would not be possible without you.”

Supporting Thomas’ Education

Meet Thomas, whose Dad served in Afghanistan and was discharged in 2019 on a full disability pension after extensive close combat exposure.
Thomas’ Mum was recently diagnosed with cancer and underwent major surgery which left her unable to work.
In these times of hardship, the Commando Welfare Trust has stepped in to support the family in sending Thomas to school.

New Mental Health Program with Forge Through

The Commando Welfare Trust is proud to be working with Forge Through to fund Special Forces members undergoing their knife-making course.
The program is dedicated to providing mental health benefits for first responders and veterans.
See below feedback from one of our most recent attendees:
“I was extremely fortunate to be awarded an exclusive invitation to Forge Through, selected by the Commando Welfare Trust.”
“We were hosted at the picturesque Nelligen property where over two full days we designed, selected, hammered and finished a forgotten, rusty yet still very functional metal file into a thing of beauty and functionality.”
“A perfect metaphor for those who’ve committed a chunk of their health — both mentally and physically — to serving Australia and its many peoples.”
“The Forge Through program is dedicated to these men and women who’ve put it all on the line in servitude and need a reset, rebalance and realignment.”
“This butcher’s blade has a new purpose and bright future. Tossed out and aside, with a bit of beating and then polish and care, look what can be achieved. All of us can relate in some manner I’m sure.”
If you are interested in this program and feel you are struggling or need some support, please contact the Trust Executive Officer, Paul Dunbavin, at

Partnership with the Australian Veterans' Children Assistance Trust

The Commando Welfare Trust has partnered with the Australian Veterans’ Children Assistance Trust to co-fund scholarships for the tertiary education of two children of former Special Forces veterans each year.
We are proud to work with an organisation that has awarded 3000-plus scholarships with an 82% completion rate.

Summer Cocktail Party Tickets Selling Fast!

Tickets to the Commando Welfare Trust Summer Cocktail Party are selling quickly! See the details below and make sure to purchase your tickets before they sell out.

Event details:

  • Date: Saturday, 23rd March 2024.
  • Time: 6:30pm-11:30pm.
  • Venue: Victoria Barracks Officers Mess, Sydney.
  • Address: Victoria Barracks, Paddington NSW 2021.
  • Buy Tickets: Click here.
  • Dress Code: Black tie with miniature medals.
  • Military Dress Option: Number 6B Mess Dress with White Jacket.
  • Cost: $169 – includes a 5-hour drink package, canapés, whisky tasting, and food trucks.
  • Entertainment: Soulganic and DJ.

Remembering the United States Navy Seals lost at the Red Sea

We pay our respects to the United States Navy Seals lost in the Red Sea on 11th January 2024.
Vale Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher Chambers, 37, and Navy Special.
Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram, 27.
These courageous men made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.
Our thoughts are with their friends, family members, and fellow servicemen.
These events show the dangers special forces soldiers face across the globe.
Lest we forget.

Outlook for 2024

In 2024, we will continue to increase our fundraising efforts, so we are prepared to support our people who sit under the umbrella of the CWT. A key element has been our strategy to increase our public presence, which is allowing us to meet the needs of our rapidly growing base of beneficiaries.
If you know of any areas where there are shortfalls in our Special Forces community or have any ideas on how we can serve them, please reach out to us. We welcome any assistance you can offer in our mission to provide essential support to those who have devoted their lives to serving our country.
Alternatively, if you require support, or know someone who does, please contact us or pass this message on to them.
Please forward this email to your friends and family so we can expand our network, which will enhance our ability to support the Australian Special Forces community even further.
In closing, we are committed to providing ongoing support to the 47 families and stand prepared to support others as needed. Our goal is to ensure that no one is left without assistance during their time of need, SOF for Life.
Regards and best wishes for 2024,

Mark Smethurst DSC, AM,


The Commando Welfare Trust

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