The Sandbag Times Issue No: 49


The Veterans Magazine

The Veterans’ Magazine Issue 49 | November 2018


A Look At Their Brand New

Album And The Ladies

Behind The Magic

SBT News Update

Plus all The Latest National &

International News from the

Armed Forces & Veterans’ World

Proud Sponsors of

The Veterans Awards

Supporting #abraveface

Leading from the front


Matt Neal

Patron and 3 time BTCC Champion.

Winner of the 60th ‘Double Diamond’ BTCC Anniversary Race

“Life is short and we need to live that life to the maximum, the freedom we enjoy in the UK is in no uncertain part down

to our armed forces, whether active, retired or recuperating and that is why I am so proud to be a Patron of the Sandbag

Times. What you do and have done for this country goes beyond words…”

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TeamDynamics @teamdynamics Team Dynamics Motorsport Ltd


istration no. GB 223 8311 34, Registered in England no. 7193279

Off The Grid

A look back at the MSA Dunlop BTCC 2018

The Veterans’ Magazine Issue 49 | November 2018


A Look At Their Brand New

Album And The Ladies

Behind The Magic

SBT News Update

Plus all The Latest National &

International News from the

Armed Forces & Veterans’ World

Proud Sponsors of

The Veterans Awards

Supporting #abraveface

Issue 49


SBT News

4 British Press Unites for


A campaign by the Times

sparks rally for veterans

5 NI Veteran refuses

treatment for court

Veteran due in court refuses

treatment for illness

5 Invictus Veteran

Comforted with PTSD

A veteran suffering PTSD

has break down at Sydney


6 Thugs vandalise Poppy


New memorial wrecked by

vandals in Wincanton


9 Ask Kerry

Brand new advice on CV

and Careers

16 NI Vets March

Veterans protest to


21 D-Day Darlings

BGT Finalists become new

Forces Sweethearts


12 Historic Tommy Atkins

Welsh miners to the rescue

27 Have Faith

The wheel of life...

38 SBT Information

A page dedicated to back

issues, information, book

reviews etc

40 Mrs Fox Goes To War

All the latest gossip and

letters from Little Hope

Editor: Pablo Snow

Magazine Manager: Matt Jarvis

Patron: Matt Neal

Honourary Patron:

Jacqueline Hurley

Additional editors:

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas

Jane Shields

Peter Macey

News Media Manager

Jim Wilde

Recording Engineer and PR


Vince Ballard




SBT NEWS November Edition

British Press Comes Together To

Raise Awareness of Veteran Suicides

Sunday 21st October 2018 marked a day

in which the British Press united to raise

awareness on Veterans Suicide.

The campaign, initiated by the Sunday

Times highlighted the truth in a rising problem

where veterans are taking their lives at

an alarming rate. The SBT can reveal that

55 Armed Forces and Veterans have taken

their lives this year, many with mental

issues caused by traumatic events witnessed

during their service. The government

responded saying there will be an

inquiry into why veterans continue to take

their lives despite admitting that there is no

recording system unlike other nations such

as the US, Canada and Australia. Recent

studies by the Kings College, London has

found that there has been an increase in

PTSD in young veterans over the past 10

years. Read the Sunday Times Article.

GET HELP NOW: Rewind @ Tommy Atkins Centre

| 4



SBT NEWS November Edition

By ITV News

NI Veteran refuses treatment To appear in Court

A Northern Ireland veteran

charged with attempted

murder has reportedly

turned down medical

treatment so that he can

appear in court.

Dennis Hutchings, a 77-

year-old former member of

the Life Guards regiment,

is accused in relation to

the fatal shooting of a man

with learning difficulties in

1974. The Daily Express

reported that he is refusing

treatment for kidney disease

for fear it would get

his case dismissed on

medical grounds. Mr

Hutchings told the newspaper:

“I will fight them to

the death. This is not

about me any more. It’s

about all the others behind

me. “As long as I can

keep fighting it, it will

hopefully end up with

somebody making a commonsense

decision and

drawing a line under it all.”

He added: “I want to prove

my innocence and show

the nonsense behind

these legacy cases.

Somebody has got to

stand up and fight this lot.”

Mr Hutchings, from

Cawsand in Cornwall, is

due to stand trial in Belfast

charged with attempted

murder and attempted

grievous bodily harm with

intent. He denies the

charges. John Pat

Cunningham, 27, was shot

in the back in Co Armagh

as he ran away from an

Army patrol. His family

argued that he ran across

a field because he feared

men in uniform. More...

Question marks still hang over

future of MoD rehab centre

The 33 hectares site, which

has been used as a military

rehab centre for injured

service men and women for

nearly 70 years, was put up

for sale last year.

The estate, situated near

Epsom, between Leatherhead

and Walton-on-the-Hill,

contains a grade II listed

mansion, two swimming

pools, 56 semi detached

houses, and a Green Belt site.

The MoD announced in July

2014 it would be moving to

Stanford Hall Estate near

Loughborough. At a council

meeting on October 9,

councillors passed a two-part

motion introduced by Liberal

Democrat Cllr Margaret

Cooksey over Headley

Court’s future. The first part

of the motion called on the

council to write to the

Charity Commission to ask

whether the Headley Court

Trust is permitted to consider

‘community value’ when

making the sale. Read more

Story: Surrey Comet

Story: The Mirror

Invictus Veteran Comforted After PTSD Trigger

A Veteran taking part in the

Invictus Games in Australia

was comforted by team

mates after a passing

helicopter triggered a

PTSD reaction.

British Army hero Paul Guest

was upset by the sound of a

helicopter, which interrupted

his wheelchair tennis match

in Sydney. Teammate Edwin

Vermetten, from The

Netherlands, spotted Guest in

tears and went to comfort

him. It has been described as

"an extraordinary moment of

teamwork and human

compassion" by Games

organisers. Mr Guest, from

Essex, served in Northern

Ireland as a mine specialist,

and was diagnosed with post

traumatic stress disorder after

being injured during The

Troubles. Mr Guest has

previously credited the

Invictus Games, set up by

Prince Harry, for saving his

life. The Invictus Games are

currently being covered by

BBC throughout the day.

Read more on this story here. 5 |


SBT NEWS November Edition

Closing RAF Scampton is ‘flawed, unpopular and short-sighted’ warns MP

Demolishing the Red

Arrows’ base is a “highlyflawed”

move which will

“wipe” away RAF history,

MPs were warned tonight.

RAF Scampton was also

home to the legendary 617

“Dambusters” Squadron in

May 1943 when its Lancaster

bombers launched the daring

raid on Nazi Germany’s Ruhr

Valley. But the Conservatives

were accused of discarding

the air force’s proud history

with the decision to shut the

site in 2022 in the latest

round of brutal military cuts.

“For 100 years Scampton has

symbolised the proud history

of our Royal Air Force and

received a lot of praise for its

role,” Labour MP Karen Lee

told a Westminster Hall

debate. “However the

Ministry of Defence has

ploughed on and announced

that RAF Scampton has to be

closed and sold off. “While

the MoD has made this

decision, it’s ultimately the

result of Government cuts

which have forced this step

to have to be taken. “Cuts

have consequences.” Read

more on this story here.

By Daily Mirror

Mindless Idiots Vanadalise ‘Poppy of Honour’ Memorial

A WW1 poppy memorial in Wincanton has

been damaged by "mindless" vandals just

days after being unveiled to the public.

Called the Poppy of Honour, the massive

steel and glass memorial was officially

unveiled on October 6 after organisers

spent years raising funds for the project

and bringing it to fruition.

Story: Somerset Live

It contains the handwritten names of more

than a million men and women who went

missing or were killed during WW1.

But, just days after celebrating its

completion in a public ceremony, the

memorial has been smashed by vandals.

Terry Williams, who developed the idea for

the memorial, posted to

Facebook that three

males were believed to

have caused the damage

just before 12.30pm on

October 19.

Mr Williams said: "They

approached the

memorial then our

gazebo spouting off that

we are glorifying war.

"I asked them politely to

leave as they were not

there to visit the Poppy

but to cause trouble, they

left the park via a narrow walk way. I

checked that they had left the area.

"At about 12.15 I dashed to the toilet in

Cale Park Kitchen a short distance of

about 20 metres away, on returning

discovered that the Poppy of Honour had

been damaged in a senseless act of


"Both panes on one side have been

cracked, which would have required a

heavy impact to break the glass."

Estimates to repair the glass on the front

of the poppy have come in around £3,000.

Those who helped create the memorial,

as well as those who were hoping to see it

as it tour the country later this year, have

condemned the act on social media.

Paul Barnes, who visited the Poppy of

Honour during its emotional unveiling

ceremony, called it a "mindless" and

"idiotic" act. Read more here

GET HELP NOW: Text Combat Stress

07537 404719

| 6


Lincoln veteran wins double gold at Invictus Games

A Lincoln woman has won two gold

medals at the Invictus Games in Sydney

for both the Women’s Recumbent Bike

IRECB1 Criterium and the Women’s

Recumbent IRECB1 Bike Time Trial in the

cycling event on Sunday 21.

As previously reported, Debbie

O’Connell, 30, served as a gunner

in the Royal Artillery and was

discharged from the army in

2017 after a bad fall from a horse

damaged her shoulder and

paralysed part of her arm.

O’Connell won both medals on

her first day of competing on the

2.4km cycling circuit and is set to take part

in both cycling and athletic events. The

Invictus Games, which are currently being

held in Sydney, Australia from October 20

– 27, is an event founded by Prince Harry

for wounded, injured or sick armed forces

personnel from across the globe to compete

in various sporting events. Overall,

Team UK won 11 medals in the cycling

event with five gold medals, two silver and

three bronze. The sailing event also took

place on Sunday, however Team UK were

unable to win any medals despite their

best efforts. Read more here.

The Lincolnite

Are you:

A Service Veteran?

Aged 65 or over?

A family member or carer

of the above?

If so, you could bene 昀 t from the

support of a DMWS Welfare O cer

We are experts in the provision of Medical Welfare and have supported the

Armed Forces Community during medical treatment since 1943

We are here to help, contact your local Welfare O

cer today:

A Guide to Medical Welfare Services

for Health Care Professionals, Organisations

and Support Workers

Caring For Those Who Serve – Frontline To Recovery

Supported by the Aged Veterans Fund

funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR Funds.

DMWS Registered Charity number:

England: 1087210 | Scotland: SCO45460 7 |



With Jim Wilde

Hi Folks,

Well, what a week its been.

By the time you get to read

this, we will have had 2

marches in London. The PTSD

Veterans March on Saturday 20th

Oct, and the "other one", which is by

no stretch of the imagination as important.

A good turnout considering, and, even though the

intention was to get Mr Williamson to come out of

the Ministry of Defence and answer questions,

that proved a little awkward, as he seemed to

think being on our new aircraft carrier Queen

Elizabeth, a few thousand miles away was more

important, and offered more media opportunities

for his portfolio!

On Sunday, we saw a number of the main

tabloids running with the Veterans Suicide stories,

which have finally made the press in sufficient

quantity to wake people up. Sadly, their date was

a little out of date, and the usual "cut and paste"

ministry quotes were there....and still inaccurate.

On the upside, the Times will be running with this

subject for a few weeks, and the Sandbagtimes

has been instrumental if not pivotal in ensuring

that the issue stays in the public eye. Our very

own Editor Pablo was so enthused at the printed

"bovine excrement" that he saw it necessary to

write a significant piece for our online newspaper

the very same day.

Now that we have finally got people to accept that

there is a severe problem in the way our serving

and veterans access facilities for Mental Health

and PTSD, we hope progress can be made quickly

in order to reach an acceptable solution.

The Invictus games is also right up there in the

news, and rightfully so. It has always been a fantastic

event, and the UK teams never disappoint.

The sheer guts and determination of our teams is

admirable, well done to all involved.

From next week, the daily news video broadcasts

will include guests, live online, to add a little more

flavour....and talent to the broadcasts. It is hoped

that we can get the guys from British Troops

Remembered to come on the show and talk about

their setup, and what goes into producing the tribute

videos that they produce for the families that

have lost sons and daughters in the Military. We

hope you enjoy the new format.

Well, thats it for me for this week. As always,

thank you all for supporting the magazine, and

our productions, without which we would not


Take care until next time



0800 731 4880

| 8


Ask Kerry...

Let her help you to open doors

Opening the Door.

I had an interesting text conversation earlier

this week with an Army Officer CV client. We

were talking about the wider elements of the

Open Door ‘product’. To quote:

‘I’d equate the product to around 25% of the

package. The remaining 75% is the conceptual

development, coaching and mentoring

which is certainly your USP.’

The new CV and re-modelled Linkedin page

are obviously important. However, the twin

pillars of personal and professional support

are the foundations. When I first start my

contact with a client I tell them from Day One

I will get them ‘think differently and then they

will act differently’. To continue the Dramatic

metaphor I stand in the Wings and watch.

Often in awe, always with pride.

A few months ago a member of the network

coined the phrase:

‘Open Door Military

Network Family’. It is

not a sound bite or a

glib expression. It is a

reality. The support

between alumni in the

network is astounding.

Job opportunities are

shared, excellent work

experience placements

for those still in

uniform are generated.

Training is

offered, high calibre

introductions are brokered.

authority over 10 years ago. With

the support of the Open Door

Military Network Family the figure

has risen to 90%. My clients are

not only gaining job interviews,

they are gaining support and

guidance from those who have

gone before them.

I am humbled by their generosity

of spirit, their kindness to me and

the Circle of Trust that has been

forged in steel.

In the last 9 weeks [1st Aug – 9th Oct] my

alumni have accrued 128 job interviews, 40

job offers and 19 job start dates. Those still

serving have been offered 12 high quality

work experience placements.

I am so fortunate to do this work. A very

respectful and grateful thank you to my


Linkedin: Kerry Dedman BA PGCE

The network works in

the shadows.

Something I have

insisted upon. 80% of

jobs are never advertised.

A statement I

was told on good

GET HELP NOW: Combat Stress

0800 138 1619 9 |


Donnington was a little more positive with

Dan qualifying 4th and then in only his second

meeting getting his first podium (2nd).

Matt clocked 2 top ten places to kick the

points off.


A look back over a very testing but educational season.

The highs, the lows, the whole damn thing

The third round was at Thruxton which is

where the SBT team managed to get to for

our first trackside coverage. Qualifying was a

dream with Matt taking a cracking pole and

beating the lap record and Dan taking another

4th. Race one saw a double podium with

Matt 1st and Dan 3rd. The silverware continued

into race two with Matt taking 3rd and

then a credible 8th in race 3 to round off the

weekends points tally.

The SBT team stayed with the action at

Oulton Park for round 4. A great circuit for

spectators and plenty of action. Qualies saw

Matt take 5th with Dan, for the first time qualifying

outside of the top 5 in 14th, Matt took

another haul of points with 5th, 2nd and then

14th due to a little help from Tom Ingram.

Not the best of days for Dan with his best

result only a 12th. Still, onwards and

upwards and on to Croft.

So up to Yorkshire for the 5th round and the

last before the summer break. Qualifying

wasn’t the best but Matt still clawed back in

great style with three top ten finishes, the

best being 4th. Dan managed to pull a few

points back with a 10th and 11th finish.

Ican remember the excitement over

February and March when Team Dynamics

were preparing to unveil the brand new

Honda Civic R (FK8). I tried everything at

Droitwich HQ to get a sneaky peek but they

had employed the SAS, MI6, the CIA and the

FBI to guard the secret. Ah well, all became

clear at the BTCC launch day at Donnington.

So at the mid season break we actually had

our Patron sat quite proudly in 3rd Place

overall. We caught up with Matt and Ben

Durrell, the Team Dynamics Marketing and

Promotions manager for a tour around our

centre and a quiet beer to catch up on the

first half of the season. What a lovely afternoon

that was.

I must admit, I had my reservations with the

new car going up against a well seasoned

and very competitive grid especially with a

new rookie driver in the form of Dan

Cammish . But that was all put to bed when

the lights went out on qualifying at the first

round at Brands Hatch. Low and behold,

Rookie driver Dan Cammish only put in the

fastest time in the new Honda. Unfortunately,

it didn’t stand due to Dan running a red light

coming back into the pit lane. Despite the

disappointment, the gauntlet was laid down

for the rest of the season not to mention the

rest of the field wondering what the bloody

hell just hit them in the form of the Boy

Wonder, Dan Cammish. Unfortunately, the

Brands provided very few points, mostly due

to awful weather but the learning curve had to

| 10


Anyway, enough about us, on with the show

and onwards to Snetterton for the BTCC 60th

Anniversary. Two qualifying sessions and

double points in the last race. This one was

the Pinnacle of BTCC. A front row for Dan in

Qualiy 1 and a front row for Matt in Qualiy 2.

The day was looking very promising. Dan

took another podium (3rd) in the first race

and a great 4th in the second. Matt’s best

was 12th in the first but that was just until we

had the Diamond Double. From second on

the grid, Matt took the lead fairly early where

he dominated for the rest of the race to finish

winner and take double points.

The final round at Brands was nothing short

of epic. Although our boys were out of the

title hunt, it didn’t stop them from dominating

the field. Qualies saw Dan and Matt 2nd and

3rd respectively but then to the races. Race

one saw Dan win his first race with Matt in

second and then lo and behold, in race 2,

they did it again. Both were right down the

field in the last race but the job had been

done. The season was over.

So how did it all end? Matt was 9th with Dan

right behind in 10th. Superb for a first season.

Halfords Yuasa

with Team Dynamics

was 2nd and manufacturer,

Honda also took

the second spot.

All in all, a very exciting

and I would say, educational

season. The

thought strikes me that

the FK8 has now been

bedded in and is now

ready for battle in 2019.

We will be there with

Matt, Dan and the Team.

I so can’t wait.

All Photos:

Jakob Ebrey

SBT was at the next round at Rockingham.

Thanks to an awful qualifying session, Matt

was left with a damage limitation exercise

only managing a best of 14th. Dan, yet again

proved to be a force to be reckoned with in

qualies with a 3rd place. He scored a little

better with a 5th and 10th to keep his points

Tally ticking along.

Then to Knockhill in Scotland. Wow, what a

wet race that was, standing water all over the

place caused havoc for all. Another torrid

one for Matt but Dan was on fire clocking his

first pole in qualifying and following that up

with two third places. Our rookie was learning

fast and still scaring the rest of the field.

Silverstone startied off promising for Matt with

a third row qualifying position but that was

duly wrecked when he was taken off on the

first lap of race 1 putting him at the back of

the grid. Despite this he clawed his way back

to 15th in the second race and then to 7th in

the third. I have to say this last race was one

of the best drives I’ve ever seen from Matt.

Truly inspirational. Dan followed a place

behind in race two and three to collect a few

more valuable points. 11 |


Welsh Miners

to the Rescue

By Peter Macey

The Manic Street Preachers in 1998 released

their album ‘This Is Our Truth, Tell Me

Yours’ which featured a track called, ‘If

you tolerate this, then your children will be

next’ . The song was inspired by the

Spanish Civil War that took place between

1936 and 1939 which involved volunteers

from all over Europe but a large contingent

from Wales.

When unemployed Rhondda miner Harry

Dobson was released from Swansea Prison

in 1936 the first question he asked was,

“How do I get to Spain?” Dobson had been

serving a sentence for leading an anti-fascist

disturbance in Tonypandy in June 1936.

Around two hundred Welsh volunteers,

mainly miners joined the left wing

international brigade and fought for the

Spanish Republic against General Franco’s

fascist militia. Welsh miners were primarily

Labour on communist at that time, largely

from the central valleys. In truth the fight

against fascism in Spain, between 1936 and

1939, drew young men and women from all

over Europe to form something of a rag-tag

army in defence of the democratically

elected Spanish Republican Government.

Dobson was one of just over thirty Welsh

men to be killed serving with the

International Brigades which fought to save

the doomed democratically elected Spanish

Republic Government. This Welsh

solidarity was referred to as taking the form

of an anti-fascist barricade.

One of the first siege’s in the war was at

Gijón. The army in support of the

Republicans attacked the small garrison

between July and August 1936. They laid

siege to the Simancas barracks in the city of

which was defended by nearly two hundred

soldiers and Spanish Police who had signed

up to support Franco’s movement. The

battle was remarkable for its viciousness

and the stubbornness of the besieged.

A Nationalist uprising of July 1936 fared

poorly in Asturias due to the province being

overwhelmingly hostile to Franco. The area

was controlled by an effective council of

state officials which including technicians

and miners. The numbers involved and in

support of the Republic were in the region

of seventy thousand. The military governor

of Gijón, Colonel Pinilla did not to declare

loyalty to Franco but was in the Communist

leader’s pocket. This was known to all and

by late July the outpost was surrounded and

cut off.

The battle for Gijón was marked by Pinilla's

resistance to give in knowing that the

attackers had virtually no weapons to speak

of other than dynamite. But until they

secured Gijón's fall the Republicans could

not concentrate their full numbers on their

siege against the nationalists on Oviedo.

The defenders soon ran out of water but still

Pinilla refused to give in. He believed that

relief was imminent. As the same time the

siege of Alcázar in Toledo was taking place

at which the Anarchists abducted Pinilla's

son and threatened to slay him if the

defenders refused to surrender. Pinilla

ignored the threat and continued his defence

of the city.

By mid-August the miners had stormed the

barracks, hurling dynamite as they charged.

The barracks burned and the defence

crumbled but rather than surrender, Pinilla

sent a message to the Almirante Cervera,

ordering it to open fire on his position. The

order was obeyed and the last defenders of

Simancas barracks died in the flames.

In October the following year Franco’s

troops retook Gijón.

Were any of your relatives involved in the

Spanish Civil War? If so we would like to

hear from you. Please contact us at SBT or

Forgotten Veterans UK (FVUK) and tell us

all about it.

| 12


Patron to The Tommy Atkins Centre

The Tommy Atkins Centre

Tommy Atkins Centre November

Hi everyone. These past few weeks have gone

round so fast. And I’ve had a few soakings of late

due to the unpredictable weather here. Guess

autumn is in full swing now, and before we know it

Christmas will be upon us.

We’ve had quite a busy month here in Worcester,

seen some new faces through the doors too.

Combat Stress have been running their Peer

Mentoring group, and also been busy with their


We have a mask making workshop with the

Vamos Theatre coming up 20th/21st November.

I’m hoping I can make it to that one, for sure. Still

have a few places available if anyone else would

like to join in. Give me a ring if you’re interested.

We are so fortunate to have Dr David Muss

working with us here delivering his Rewind

Technique to those struggling with PTSD. It’s

pretty amazing to see the difference one or two

sessions has on people. You can find out more

about Rewind on The Sandbag Times website if

you’re interested. It’s definitely an avenue to

consider for help if you suffer from PTSD.

Before I go I’d just like to remind everyone that

when times are difficult you really don’t have to

face things on your own. We are always ready to

listen, and can guide you to any help available.

Don’t let things get to you. Talk to us. Come in

and have a cuppa and a chat. You are always

very welcome here.

Stay safe, and don’t forget to keep in touch with

that Brother or Sister who has been quiet for a

few days. Give them a quick call to see if they

are ok.

Jane xx



Also, if anyone would like to volunteer their time

to help man the centre on Tuesdays and

Thursdays 0930-1500 I promise to have kettle on

ready for you.

Tommy Atkins Centre To Launch

New Online Veterans Care System

The Tommy Atkins Veterans Centre, Worcester,

will shortly launch a new online method of

treating veterans with mental health issues

sich as PTSD.

The system will incorporates Dr David Muss’s

Rewind Trauma Therapy, an online delivery system

such as Skype and a brand new dedicated help


does not require the patient to talk about the events

that have led to the illness. In other words, it is closure

without disclosure making the system safe

from recall issues.

It is hoped that the new system will be launched in

mid-November, around the same time as the centres

first anniversary. It is hoped that the Veterans

Online Rewind Therapy System (VORTS) will pave

the way for a new approach to treating veterans

without delay and ultimately reduce the growing

suicide trend.

The idea will be to intercept vulnerable, high risk

veterans on social media and give them instant

support and treatment. If successful, the service

could greatly reduce the current suicide rates by

providing effective assistance when required.

The new system will treat emergency situations as

well as offering a more private and easy way of

defeating the illnesses without leaving the clients

own home with a routine service. One of the great

benefits of the Rewind Trauma Therapy is that it

GET HELP NOW: Tommy Atkins Centre

01905 27825

| 14


Tommy Atkins Centre

Supporting Veterans in our Community

01905 813936 15 |

Army vets planning

‘witch hunt’ protest

"TERRORISTS are freely walking the streets while the

Government shamefully launches “a witch hunt” against heroic

Northern Ireland war veterans."

Suzanne Fernando and fellow veterans took to the city’s

Armed Forces Career Office at the same time as a major rally

took place across the UK.

The Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans (JFNIV) organised

the protests in response to a number of recent prosecutions

of former soldiers in relation to incidents during the region’s

sectarian conflict.

Along with fellow veterans Suzanne Fernando supported the

Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group, by heading to

Glasgow to protest against the launching of criminal investigations

into historic alleged crimes committed by soldiers on the

front line. The Glasgow event was led by Veteran Suzanne

Fernando, as they stood outside the army careers office on

Queen Street, there banners reading “Justice for Northern

Ireland veterans” were displayed.

In an emotional speech delivered in front of the Army Careers

Office, Royal Military Police Veteran Suzanne Fernando, said:

These actions by the British Government are a disgrace and

a betrayal to those of us who served. No British soldier ever

went on patrol with the intention of committing a crime, no

British soldier ever placed a bomb in a pub full of innocents

and no British soldier ever placed a bomb underneath a

police car. Yet the IRA continue to walk free, where is the justice

in that? I spoke with various reporters, photographers,

radio and local labour MP Paul Sweeney , about whats happening

to our veterans.


War is a dirty, brutal business, no matter the

legal definition you give it, and over nearly 40

years, the troubles in Northern Ireland claimed

more than 3,500 lives. However, of the combatants,

for every paramilitary killed two members

of the armed forces and security services lost

their lives. And while I mourn the members of

our brave forces, I remain unapologetic for the

deaths of terrorists, who had criminally taken

up arms to force a change the majority in

Northern Ireland did not want! As far as I’m

concerned, those who live by the sword, often

die by the sword, and that is why it is so disgusting

that veterans now face prosecution. But

rather than being thanked, veterans today live

in fear of a knock at the door to be asked questions

about the events of a lifetime ago. And

the odds of being targeted in this post-conflict

'witch-hunt' seem to be growing. I served in the

armed forces and I’m appalled some veterans

in their 70's are being arrested and charged

with alleged killings in NI during the troubles.

This is despite the fact that over 90 per cent of

the deaths were carried out by terrorist paramilitaries

- why is nobody going after them? We need to bring

this nonsense to an end. During our time in Glasgow we witnessed

a great wave of support for our veterans. We’ve got

one angle in Northern Ireland getting away with everything but

British soldiers being dragged back to the courts. It’s totally

wrong. This is abuse against soldiers who fought in Northern

Ireland. There are hundreds of ex-soldiers being investigated.

That’s fine, but make sure they investigate the terrorists as

well. The government is wholly committed to finding a lawful,

fair, balanced and proportionate way forward for legacy issues

in Northern Ireland. We are also very mindful of the fact that

some 90 per cent of all deaths in the troubles were caused by

terrorists. Without new bodies to address the legacy of the

past, murders by terrorists won’t be investigated any time

soon and victims, including families of brave serviceman

killed, are less likely to see justice. Sadly many have suffered

with PTSD as a result of serving and took there own lives.

Something needs to change NOW".

One veteran, 75-year-old Dennis Hutchings, was woken up by

police in December, who charged him with the attempted

murder of an IRA suspect in 1974 while he was serving Queen

and country in Armagh. Many of our Veterans served in

Northern Ireland, should we be worried too? Are we going to

get woken in the early hours of the morning?

The Good Friday Agreement, signed off by Tony Blair, allowed

500 convicted terrorists linked to the IRA to walk free, something

seen as “a grave injustice” by ex-forces personnel who

are now watching their own colleagues face prosecution.

Veterans claim the vast majority of post-conflict charges relating

to Northern Ireland are being made against British soldiers,

not former IRA members who already have terrorism

offences to their name.

We want to try and encourage even more people to attend

this time so I'd be really grateful if you could share and attend.

| 16




NORWICH, NORFOLK, UK – Geotekk founders James Sheppard and Matthew Leach were left

angered and frustrated having both been victims of bike theft. This frustration, compounded

by ever-rising theft levels, would lead them to launch a disruptive tech startup and develop the

ultimate smart alarm for bikes and motorbikes, Limpet.

Escalating bike and motorcycle theft statistics prove

that, nowadays, you need more than just a good lock

to stay safe. Whilst traditional locks make theft more

dif 昀 cult, they are easily overcome by savvy thieves.

Trackers offer connection to the owner via smartphone,

but they fail to act as an effective, visual theft deterrent.

Limpet addresses this gap, incorporating a piercing

audible alarm and powerful strobe lights designed

to draw maximum attention, whilst keeping the user

connected through its user-friendly app – with real-time

alerts and tracking, wherever they are.

Featuring autonomous geofence and accelerometer

attack triggers with various sensitivity options, users

can set the arming criteria appropriate for the situation.

For the very best protection, Limpet should be used

with the owner’s existing lock, cable or chain, creating

a thief’s worst nightmare – layers of security. However,

Limpet can be used independently if there’s nothing to

secure the item to or simply no need to use a lock.

In an increasingly fearful world, Geotekk was founded

with the belief that anything which serves to reduce

stress and anxiety in our lives enables us to be happier

and “live more”.

Having both had bikes stolen and experiencing 昀 rsthand

the stress theft causes, Matthew and James

made it their mission to create an affordable, bestin-class

smart alarm. The device would combine

and augment the most effective features of various

other security products in one aesthetically-superior

package. The goal was also to make the product as

versatile and multi-functional as possible, so various

bespoke mounting attachments will be available.

To accomplish this lofty ambition, Geotekk has

partnered with several established industry experts,

including LMEC Engineering, Lysander R&D, Wireless

Logic and Kwiboo – all highly regarded companies in

their respective 昀 elds.

Now, after 3 years of meticulous R&D and prototyping,

Limpet is 昀 nally ready to make its debut.

Founder, Matthew Leach commented: “After all

those years of hard work, challenges and problem

solving, it’s amazingly satisfying to have brought the

device through from concept to launch. As we were

determined not to make any compromises throughout

Limpet’s development, the process was far harder than

we ever imagined it would be. In close collaboration

with our strategic partners, we believe we’ve created

a market-leading, user-friendly, connected security

alarm. Limpet is effective, simple to use, 昀 t for the

world we live in, and ultimately, enables people to get

more out of doing the things they love.”

Consumers will be able to get their hands on the

device before anyone else and take advantage of

exclusive discounts, including a 50% off early-bird

offer, if they pre-order the product through the brand’s

Kickstarter campaign running from mid-November.

To be the 昀 rst to know when the exclusive early bird

offer goes live, people should join the mailing list via Following Kickstarter, the product will

be available to order through the company’s website;

and with strong interest from national retailers,

Geotekk’s Limpet smart alarm looks set to disrupt

the IoT security market.

### ENDS ###

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: James Sheppard, Co-founder Phone: 07971 280051 Email:

Mental Health: External Quietness, Screaming Inside

What happens

after the success?

By Ben Williams

The ability to place my finger

upon the catalyst for my

problems was difficult. The

darkness within my mind was

suffocating, feeding my body

its feelings of bitterness,

anger, sadness, and pain. My

teeth were ground flat within

a tightly locked jaw that bit

hard on every emotion. Sleep

was broken, continuously

interrupted by nightmares

and flashbacks that stemmed

from bygone experiences.

The only escape was drinking,

self-harm, and violence.

The drink numbed the feelings

and emotions. Selfharming

helped to distract

the mind from its internal

struggles. Fighting was an

opportunity to release the bitter

rage and anger, and experience

a momentary

adrenaline fuelled high which

I deeply craved ever since the

battlefield. As sickening as

these moments were, they

were an uncontrollable side

effects and consequences of

an illness I knew nothing


The combination of intoxicating

chemicals mixed with an

unstable mind was dangerous

for all, including myself.

There was no control or stability;

no pattern or habit; just

an uncontrollable downward

spiral of depression as I tried

to cling on in a desperate

attempt of survival. Every day

was a repeat of the last. A day

that would commence with

fatigue, tiredness, regret,

guilt, and often a hangover,

quickly followed by waves of

emotions that would violently

rock the boat of balance.

Why? Why was I feeling like

this? Why did no one else

around me seem to be suffering

like I was? I felt alone, and

that loneliness led to silence;

mentally shut off. We had all

experienced the same things.

Witnessing our friends being

maimed or killed. The bodies

of enemy combatants and

victims of war. Whether the

next patrol would be the last

one, and if the next step we

took would end our young

lives. My experiences were

no different to the next person,

but somehow, I felt isolated

within my own mind;

caged within a cell of emotions.

I wouldn't allow myself to be

the one who came forward as

the ‘weak one’, to put my

hand up and say I was suffering.

The bravado and hard

outer exterior that we wore as

Commandos wouldn’t

accommodate for that. So,

everything got stuffed away.

However, this wouldn’t last.

| 18

I felt like a glass bottle of fizzy drink, violently

shaken, pushing hard on every side

to release the intense pressures beneath

its surface. Before long, I was signed off

work, placed on a course of anti-depressants,

and admitted to a psychiatric unit

to speak with psychologists and therapists

who would help me with my problems.

But, there was always an underlying

question that would have me consider

my own life; whether to ‘soldier on or not’.

Years on I look back and reflect on this

time. A time where I was unrecognisable.

Somehow, I had come through, scarred,

but alive. Yet, I am a lucky one, as so

many before, and after me, can no longer

carry on, and fall to their dark thoughts of

ending their innocent lives.

For so long I had continued to hide away

my feelings and emotions from those

around me. I guarded myself behind a

wall that I allowed no one past. However,

I finally realised it wasn’t a wall I had to

allow people over. It was a wall I needed

to climb back over myself. A wall that hid

me from my former self. The only way to

climb it was acceptance and admittance

to my condition.

I found during this acceptance some of

the many reasons for why I was feeling

like I was. Some were hereditary. Some

were experiences within my youth and

adult life, and some were from combat.

But one reason stood out to me far more

than the rest. It was the sudden realisation

that I would never ever do again what

I had trained so hard to do in the first

place. I would never experience combat,

real time warfare operations. It was all

over, and for what I had trained so hard

for previously was now redundant. I in no

way advocate war and wish upon no person

to ever experience what my comrades,

other soldiers, and myself have

ever experienced. However, the matter of

the fact is that we would never go through

the rush, pride, and overwhelming experience

of what being a soldier for your

country brings. It isn’t the killing or violence,

it is the feeling of belonging,

togetherness, and being part of something

few have ever experienced.

Therefore, I now ask you as the reader,

why do you think many soldiers, athletes,

business execs, celebrities, chefs, stars,

and so on, fall off the wagon to mental

health problems, drugs and alcohol, selfharm,

and even suicide when their

careers come to an end. When the

moment comes to hang up the gloves,

stow away the boots, leave the business,

or walk away from Hollywood.

Those feelings that person once experienced

of standing on the podium, lifting

the trophy, closing the deal, or being the

centre of attention are gone. No one

cares about them, the tap is turned off,

and they suddenly realise they are nothing

more than a number; a drop in the

ocean many will forget when the next star

comes along.

Michael Phelps recently quoted, “I don’t

think there has been much help for when

an athlete retires”. “When we’re done it’s

kind of like we’re just moved along or

brushed aside because there’s somebody

else that’s coming up.” How must it

feel to no longer be wanted? To lack a

purpose that you have always known to

be there.

I recently attended a conference where

neuroscientist Ash Ranpura spoke as the

keynote, his presentation sparking deep

questions amongst all attending. Ash’s

words stunned the room into silence. “If

you take away a soldier’s ability to soldier,

then who are they, and what purpose do

they have?” A profound question that can

be widened across any industry or profession.

If a person suddenly feels they

are not worthy, have no belonging, or can

no longer do what they have always

known, then how can we ever question

why our veterans, celebrities, successful

people, and athletes are suffering? There

now seems more to it than just another

person who has slipped off the rails of

life; another ‘legend’ who has killed themselves.

The subject of mental health is broad,

and there are vast amounts of reasons

why people suffer. I in no way in this article

intend to say it is just one thing and

am acutely aware of the depth mental

health goes to. What I do look to provoke,

and ask yourself, is our approach to such

people from almost institutionalised backgrounds

correct? Simply helping someone

find a new direction, a new vision, a

new sense of belonging could be the difference

to them staying on the rails.

We are all accountable for our own lives.

Yet, sometimes those that have known

nothing else but one thing in life, need

help discovering a new path. My mental

health issues are still there, but I have a

new vision and direction in helping others.

To help people transition, find their

new direction, and gain that feeling of

reward and belonging all over again. We

should all play our part, and through this,

we may all just help bring down the next


Accommodation Support

For Further Details:

Tel: 01746 833797/ 830191/ 872940

Fax: 01746 835774

Catterick Mil: 94731 2940


19 |


SBT Remembrance 100

Special Sold Out But

Online Edition Available

Well, we’ve sold out of hard

copies on our Remembrance

100 Special and believe it or

not, we only finoished it a few

days ago. However, all is not

lost. It is still possible to

obtain a digital copy via the


There is, however a donation

required. How much is up to

you. I would suggest anything

from £1 to £1,000,000

depending on how generous

you are but anything in

between is fine. Seriously

though, we do ask for a small

donation for the magazine as

all proceeds are going to the

Tommy Atkins Centre.

The magazine follows the

route of my poem ‘A Tale of

Remembrance’ starting from

the First World War right up

to the present day as far as

my research has told me.

There is also articles from our

regular writers as well as a

special tribute to our lost

brother ‘Robby’

McRobb who sadly

passed away recently.

There is also a wonderful

tribute from

our Patron and

BTCC Star Matt Neal and the

Tommy Atkins Centre Patron

and War Poppy Artist

Jacqueline Hurley.

To get your copy simply go

to this link


Proud Sponsors of

The Sandbag Times

The SBT would like to

welcome Urban Prints,

Worcester as an official sponsor

for our magazine.

Urban Prints

Unit 7 The Gallery,

The Shambles,



GET HELP NOW: NHS England S/West

0300 365 0300

| 20


The D-Day Darlings

The New Forces Sweethearts

One quiet Sunday morning in October, an email

arrived on my desktop asking me to listen to a

new album from s group of girls singing war

time songs. Five minutes later, I realised that I had

never regretted missing ‘Britains Got Talent’ so much in

my life.

The D-Day Darlings are simply brilliant. To quote

Simon Cowell on ‘Britains Got Talent’ they are very

classy. In fact, rarely have I seen and heard such a

wonderful tribute to our veterans. The only person

who has done better is Dame Vera Lynn herself.

Since that Sunday morning, I have taken great interest

in the wonderful group. I have followed their journey

on BGT and the shows they perform around the country.

Thanks to Youtube, their performances and their

story is there for everyone to see. Well worth it!

But I needed to know where they come from and how

they came to be. So I shall let the girls explain all but it

would be worth knowing that next month, once the

busy Remembrance season is over, we shall be featuring

an interview with Katie Ashby, the founder of the D-

Day Darlings. Something I am very much looking forward


The D-Day Darlings - Their Story

Katie formed The D Day Darlings in 2008, with a love of

nostalgia and a hugely giving nature, creating a group

that remembers fallen heroes and allows thousands of

people to relive the memories of an unforgettable era

through such beautiful and heartfelt music was the perfect


Katie worked tirelessly, with great dedication and determination,

and the group, originally formed as wartime

trio, went from strength to strength. With their popularity

growing, with young and old alike, and demand for

the group becoming greater, more Darlings were

signed up to join the growing army of Darlings, to continue

their mission to keep the wartime spirit alive and

into the new generation.

Katie joined forces with The Royal British Legion and

The Darlings became official fundraisers for the RBL,

raising thousands of pounds each year to assist the

legion in their work and when Dame Vera Lynn gave

her endorsement of the groups work, The D-Day

Darlings truly became the UK’s most loved sweethearts

and their popularity grew even further.

Bringing the true spirit of the wartime era alive, The D-

Day Darlings sing the heartfelt harmonies that kept

Britain smiling through its darkest times with popular

WW2 songs such as We'll Meet Again, I'll Be Seeing

| 22


You, Land of Hope and Glory, and Bless

Em’ All.

Wearing original WRAF uniforms, the

delightful darlings can perform against a

backdrop of original 1940's film footage,

taking the audience on a journey into

the heart of an era where troops were

being serenaded by the likes of ‘Dame

Vera Lynn’, who is an advocate of the

show. Also proudly supported by The

Royal British Legion, the Forces’

favourite sweethearts do their bit for our

nation’s heroes with each performance,

having raised almost £40,000 to help the

charity so far.

The D-Day Darlings boast a long list of

major credits including The Imperial War

Museum, The Black Country Museum,

The RBL's Festival of Remembrance,

Royal Hospital Chelsea and RAF

Cosford’s Veterans Parade. Perfect for

any military or forties-themed event, they

create the atmosphere of wartime Britain

with authentic 40s glamour, quality

vocals and professionalism.

In June this year, the D-Day Darlings

took the country by storm by going all

the way to the final of ‘Britains Got

Talent’. Regardless of not winning the

final, the girls certainly stamped themselves

into Britains hearts with a faultless

rendition of ‘There’ll be Bluebirds over

the white cliffs of Dover’. I personally

think this was certainly not the career

peak of the D-Day Darlings. So much

more good things to come.

We are also very pleased to announce

that there will be an album release from

The D-Day Darlings ‘I’ll Remember You’

on Friday 9th November 2018 with some

amazing songs of that bygone era plus

two original songs.

To find out more about the girls, visit

their website:

The D-Day Darlings

Their new album

‘I’ll Remember You’


Friday 9th November 2018

Pre-order your copy now 23 |

Co-commissioners: London International Mime Festival

Co-producers: Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Production sponsors: Arts Council England (Grants for the Arts), Worcestershire

County Council, The Elmley Foundation, Worcestershire Arts Partnership.

| 24


Kevin Lloyd-Thomas

An Introduction to the new SBT Writer

and his Brand new Book ‘Beat PTSD.

Recently, I had the complete pleasure to

speak to Kevin Lloyd-Thomas. Kevin has

recently written a book called ‘Beat PTSD’

which he has written through his own personal

experiences. Kevin will shortly be writing

for the SBT all the way from Australia,(very

much looking forward to that) but in the

mean time let’s learn a little about Kevin.

Kevin is an author, military veteran, successful

in business areas, including real estate.

His military career began

in 1966 when he joined

the Australian Army. He

was posted

to the Infantry Corps, and

sent to Vietnam in 1967,

two weeks after his 19th

birthday, where he served

as a forward scout, rifleman,

and machine gunner

in the 2nd Battalion of the

Royal Australian


He volunteered for a second

tour of duty, serving

as a rifleman and forward

scout with the 4th

Battalion of the Royal

Australian Regiment.

Kevin then served as a

section commander in the

2nd D&E Platoon, a platoon

that became quite

controversial in its short existence, but even

45 years later, still causes bitter and hostile


After completing his second tour of duty,

Kevin served for two years as an infantry

instructor with the 3rd Training Battalion.

Prior to leaving the Army, Kevin prepared

himself for civilian life. He studied at night to

earn his Marketing Certificate and went to

work for J Blackwood and Son Ltd as a management

trainee. Later he began his career in

the computer industry, then after almost three

years of soul destroying unemployment,

found a career in real estate sales, then as a

mortgage broker.

Unsurprisingly, Kevin was diagnosed with

chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder relating

to the time he spent in Vietnam. It took

him nearly ten years, but he ultimately took

control of his PTSD.

In his spare time, Kevin enjoys sailing, ocean

racing, surfing, and scuba diving. His volunteer

activities involved working with Sailability,

and Sailors with disabilities.

His professional and social associations

include the Royal Australian Regiment

Association, Vietnam Veterans Association,

Queensland, Returned Serviceman’s League,

Southport Returned Serviceman’s League

Sub-branch, Combined Services Club Subbranch,

Mates4Mates, the Southport Yacht

Club and the Southport Surf Club.

Kevin has travelled and worked throughout

Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines,

Vanuatu, Fiji, Bali, the United Kingdom, the

USA, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland,

Austria, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas is the author of Beat

PTSD and lives on the Gold Coast,

Queensland, Australia.

Have You Walked A Mile Yet?


GET HELP NOW: NHS England South East

020 3317 6818

| 26


Balance Your Wheel of Life...

Here’s a bit of a weird one. We were talking about the wheel of life

the other day and how, if one part of your cirlce becomes damaged,

neglected or just forgotten about then your ride in life can become


I can almost hear you saying “What on earth is this idiot going on

about now?”. Well, I’ll explain. There are many parts of our life

which make us what we are. Family, friends, work, rest, recreation,

love, health, the list goes on depending on our personal circumstances.

When each one works in harmony, life is good, the wheel

turns smoothly and we sit in our perfect world. If only...

We can do the same in our own wheel of life. Obviously banging a

wheel weight to your head is not the answer but repairing the part

which is out of balance will ensure your ride is smooth even though

the wheel is not perfect. If I can explain with a practical example,

recently I have had a few health issues which have knocked me off

my normal track, ignoring the problem meant my work, sleep, family

life were all affected but after a visit to the doctor where he

banged on my virtual balance weight in the form of some medication

and further investigations gave me peace of mind to get things

back into balance. Yes, things are not perfect but I’ve balanced out

my imperfect wheel so things are a little more smooth.

Take a look at the Wheel of Life on the left, and score yourself honestly

between 1 - 10 per section. Draw a line across the section

with the outer line being 10 and the centre of the circle being 0 and

then take a look at where you need to add a balance weight to

smooth off your own personal life ride. If you have trouble finding

your balance weights, why not take a look at the spiritual wheel

above. Plenty of guidance can be found here. As I’ve said before

this is just my own personal way of making sense of these things.

I do hope that these passages make as much sense to you as they

do to me. Have faith in yourselves, God bless until next month.

Our lives are rarely perfect. In fact I can put my hand on my heart

and say I don’t know anyone that has a perfect life. But that doesn’t

mean to say we can’t balance our lives to make it the best as possible.

When you take your car in to service, the mechanics will balance

your wheels. They spin, what looks like a perfectly round wheel, on

a machine that shows where it is off balance. The mechanic will

then rectify it by banging a weight on to the wheel to get the perfect

balance and return the road drive to a smooth experience.

GET HELP NOW: NHS England North

0191 441 5974 27 |

Pegasus Overland Expedition

Celebrates its 50th Anniversary

By John Proffitt

In 1968 traversing the deserts emerged as

one of the last frontiers to be conquered as

Sir Francis Chichester had sailed solo around

the world in a yacht, Captain Ridgeway and

Chay Blyth rowed the Atlantic and Sir

Edmund Hillary crossed the Antarctic over


Three former soldiers of 12/13th Battalion The

Parachute Regiment from Liverpool, John

Proffitt, John Doran, John Bate with two other

keen adventurers Tom McCormack and Victor

Parkinson took up the challenge and set off

to traverse thousands of miles over deserts

and unsealed tracks across the world in a

Land Rover Long wheel base Series II.

At the last minute the Government of the day

put a spoke in the wheel by placing a freeze

on money going out of the country allowing

just 50 pounds sterling per person which

barely covered the day to day running costs.

However funds could be drawn in sterling

areas .

At the time there was a lot of interest in this

expedition and on achieving success would

be referred to as a geographical footprint for

crossing great distances over open deserts

while crossing the world in a continuous journey.

This took place when there was no GPS,

Internet or Mobile Telephones as they had not

been invented. Also man had not stepped

foot on the moon. The soldiers relied on old

maps and compass settings as information to

travel across deserts was scarce or didn’t

exist. What set this apart from any other

expedition was it travelled most of the way

over deserts and was self-sufficient for taking

the majority of its own food provisions along

in dehydrated rations similar to WWII 24hr

military ration packs.

Crossing over deserts was not encouraged in

the Middle Eastern countries as there was

concern travellers may not make it across

deserts. Short distances took place by local

| 28


tribes with camel trains. In the event a vehicle

encountered mechanical problems it

could take up to several weeks to walk out

from the desert in dry conditions. In the

deserts of Afghanistan and Iran the men were

kept vigilant as gunfire was regular occurrence

close to borders of both countries at

night time as bandits or smugglers attempted

to cross over or hold unsuspecting persons

in the area.

The expedition also experienced earthquake

in Yugoslavia and Turkey, and as they headed

South East of India missed a tsunami where a

wave of ocean came in from West Bengal to

Calcutta leaving the city under two metre of

water. They encountered monsoon floods

and assisted Indian villagers by towing their

truck full of bananas back onto the road.

They were most thankful as this was their

main crop of the season.

After travelling through Europe, Middle East

and South East Asia the expedition arrived in

Western Australia ahead of the first London to

Sydney Car Rally before driving across

Australia. It then went on to New Zealand the

country furthest distance south. On completion

of reaching its destination the expedition

received numerous acknowledgements by

renowned adventurers, world leaders including

General Michael Walsh and Sir Edmund

Hillary. 29 |


the walk of their choice, wearing the hats, to

raise awareness and money for those who


Military charities join forces to give hope to

Veterans this Christmas

Help for Heroes and Walking With The

Wounded partner up on Christmas fundraising


Today Matalan have been announced as

the principal sponsor for the collaboration

The three British brands hope to join

forces and make this year bigger than ever

Leading military charities Walking With The

Wounded (‘WWTW’) and Help for Heroes are

to join forces this winter to support hundreds

more veterans and their families who will be

struggling this Christmas.

Earlier this year HRH Duke Of Sussex

announced that more collaboration was

needed within the military sector to provide

better support for the Armed Forces and veteran

communities.* WWTW and Help for

Heroes, who have been working together

delivering recovery programmes since 2012

are honouring Prince Harry’s vision by collaborating

even further via a joint fundraising

campaign, Walking Home For Christmas to

pay for vital support for veterans at risk,

including those who are unemployed or

struggling with their mental health.

Today, the British fashion and homeware

retailer Matalan was announced as the headline

sponsor of the fun walking challenge,

Walking Home for Christmas, and hopes to

encourage the nation to lace up their boots

and organise a fundraising walk in their community.

With over 200 stores nationwide and

a loyal customer base who are also active

supporters of our

nation’s wounded

veterans** the partnership

is a natural

fit for Matalan’s


Participants can

register for the walk

online for free and

upon registration

will receive a Santa

hat in the post.

Between 13 – 23

December, registered

friends and

colleagues will walk

The campaign is now in its fifth year and has

so far raised more than £1m for those who

served and are in need of support. The

longest walk to date was by a grandmother

in Suffolk walking 400 miles to visit a family

member in Northern Ireland in honour of her

serving grandson. Other walks have included

people carrying their Christmas tree home,

collecting a turkey from a farm on foot and

getting old regimental colleagues back

together for a walk.

Walking With The Wounded CEO, Ed Parker

said: “Both our organisations are helping the

same person. We help them in different

ways. We reach them in different ways. But

essentially the veterans and their families are

the people we’re all supporting. We really

hope that people can come together on this

and make it a huge success. We think that

by working together we can make Walking

Home For Christmas bigger, better and raise

even more money.”

Help for Heroes CEO, Mel Waters said: “It

makes absolute sense that while we work on

recovery together we also fundraise together.

It’s something that we’re proud to do given

the nature of our partnership.

“We know that social isolation can become

an issue, particularly if you don’t have a family

at Christmas time. You can feel really

removed from society and often need a little

bit more support. We want to make a difference

together and I really hope the public

get behind this.”

Mr Parker added: “I believe that out of these

walks over the last few years, and I’ve done

some big walks, it’s all about the camaraderie.

It’s about the impact that we know

we’re having and it’s a time when one can

reflect and feel you’re doing something.”

Jason Hargreaves, Matalan’s CEO said:

“Matalan is proud to be sponsoring such an

important event and collaboration. The point

of, Walking Home for Christmas is not just

raising funds for an amazing cause, which is

important - but also bringing communities

together and supporting individuals at a very

tough time of the year. It’s important we

recognise that and remind people that support

is available and that as communities we

can be there for each other. That’s why we’re

honoured to be title sponsors of this year’s


To find out more please visit


| 32

Short Stories for the Good Guys in The Army

I have published a short story collection with

13 Army stories that take place from 1967 to

1973. There are 5 main characters who

served in South Vietnam or South Korea. This

collection has the most recent versions of the

short stories that I previously published as

separate Kindle eBooks.

One of the characters plays guitar and writes

country western songs. I included lyrics to 5

of my own songs. There are also 20 color

images. My son Alan created the book cover.

For the background, he took a photo of an

Army uniform and then applied an Armybrass

look to the letters. The cover photo,

taken in South Vietnam, is in the public



UK Veterans Hearing Help 33 |



Help us support our

Armed Forces and

Emergency Services Veterans

Join now at

YES Society are the promoter of the Veterans Raffle

Licensed & regulated by the Gambling Commission. Licence 37221. BeGambleAware 18+

Veterans Breakfast Clubs

The VBC Website has now been revamped/redesigned and is now live. There are

several new features including a Post Code search facility that brings up the five

nearest Breakfast Clubs to your Post Code, and we now have a News feature and

links to the current issues of the Sandbag Times and much more. To make it easier

for people to get to it, funds have been made available to allow the acquisition of

more domain names.

The new address is and the old address is pointed at the new site.

The main alteration is that the email addresses have changed from:



As many of you, in the AFVBC world may know,

the Sandbag Times is now available as a printed

edition. Unlike the online edition, we cannot

offer the printed copies for free as we have to

pay for expensive printing costs and obviously,

the postage. However, we have done some

number crunching and we are pleased to say we

can send out packs of 5 magazines for £20.00.

Unfortunately, we regret that we cannot send out

single copies at this time, hopefully that will

change in the near future as the SBT grows.

The prints are of excellent and professional

standard with 250gsm covers and 130gsm

pages with stunning colour and graphics. If you

would like to order monthly magazines for your

club or send in entries, then please email us at This printed copy will

be used to support the Tommy Atkins Veterans

Centre in Worcester.

GET HELP NOW: Return To The Tribe


Bristol Armed Forces and Veterans

Breakfast Club provides a hearty meal

and a haven for veterans

Once a month, a group of friends get together

for a hearty breakfast and to chat about

everything from the football to what their family

have been up to.

But it is more than just a chance for old mates

to catch up.

The Sunday morning meeting at the

Kingswood Colliers pub in Bristol is actually a

lifeline for former soldiers, without which

many would be left struggling with isolation.

The Bristol Armed Forces & Veterans

Breakfast Club provides a place where ex-servicemen

can meet others, share experiences

and find the comradeship so many miss after

leaving the military.

The group of around 15 meets once a month

at the pub in Kingswood, which provides free

tea and coffee and a room decorated with

regimental flags for the morning.

Jane Ager, who organises the meetings, said

that many of the men arrive struggling to

cope with civilian life.

She said: “We have people of all different

ages, men who served in Iraq and

Afghanistan, and old boys from World War II,

but they all have one thing in common.

They find a place where there are like-minded

people who understand and support them,

and that can make a huge difference.

“A man came in who suffers from serious

post-traumatic stress disorder. He was visibly

anxious and worried about fitting it, but soon

relaxed when the squaddie banter began and

he realised he wasn’t on his own any more.”

The Bristol breakfast club is one of several in

the southwest, and one of over 270 around

the UK, which bring together ex-servicemen,

from World War II veterans to young men who

have recently left the Army after tours of Iraq

and Afghanistan.

The clubs aim to tackle the isolation many former

soldiers feel once they leave service, giving

them back a sense of belonging which

many feel they lost once they returned to

civvy street.

Jane said: “Most soldiers go in to the armed

forces when they are teenagers, and when

they come to the end of their service have

never been a civilian.

They’ve never made the transition from child

to civilian adult, or learned how to live independently.

They end up feeling isolated,

struggling with depression and unable to

cope with normal life.

“Breakfast clubs help just by putting them

together with people who know how they feel,

and who support each other.

“It’s such a simple thing but for many of those

who attend it has made the vital difference to

their lives.”


| 36

Veterans Breakfast Clubs

‘Mesothelioma UK – Supporting Our

Armed Forces’ at Leicester AFVBC

Liz Darlison, Head of Services for

Mesothelioma UK, a charity and national

resource centre, was recently invited to the

Leicester Armed Forces and Veterans

Breakfast Club (AFVBC) to share information

on a new service for veterans and armed

forces personnel.

This service is called ‘Mesothelioma UK -

Supporting our Armed Forces’ and the

AFVBC provided the perfect setting to speak

with members.

In 2016, Mesothelioma UK applied for funding

through a grant to support a specialist service

for armed forces personnel and veterans who

have been affected by mesothelioma, the

asbestos related cancer. The funding is supporting

a three-year project, aimed at raising

awareness of the disease and establishing a

shared approach to providing information

and support for Armed Forces personnel and


Key facts and figures:

The UK has the highest incidence of

mesothelioma in the world with around 2,700

cases per year

• 84% of those diagnosed are male

The average age for someone

diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma

is 75 years

• Currently eight veterans per

month are claiming war pension

due to a diagnosis of mesothelioma*

*Statistics from They WorkFor You

open data from UK Parliament

The Mesothelioma UK -

Supporting Our Armed Forces


• provides a specialist mesothelioma

nurse, based in Southampton

• provides a finance and benefits

advisor who can deal specifically

with Armed Forces personnel and


• works with multiple organisations

and healthcare professionals,

responsible for meeting the healthcare

needs of Armed Forces personnel

and veterans

• has developed a range of information

resources to raise awareness of the disease

within the Armed Forces and military personnel


• includes the launch of a Facebook group

specifically for the Armed Forces patients and

their family and friends -

• is undertaking a comprehensive research


If you’re a serving member of the Armed

Forces, a veteran, mesothelioma patient, family

member or carer or from an Armed Forces

partner organisation and want to find out

more, please contact our helpline or visit the


Tel: 0800 169 2409



Photo: Liz Darlison, Head of Services for

Mesothelioma UK with ex Coldstream

Guards, Stephen Corrall and Royal

Engineers, Russ Hillier. 37 |


A word from the Ed

Ways to find us

Somebody please surgically

remove this PC from my line of

sight. I’ve had enough!! Only

joking. It has been a long few

weeks though, finally finishing

off the Remembrance 100 Special

Edition and then moving straight

on to this one. Where does it


Quite a mix of stuff in this edition

with our centre spread belonging

to the BGT finalists ‘D-Day

Darlings’. We have lots of shorter

stories but for me, the big news is

found on the Tommy Atkins page

where we go into partnership with

Dr David Muss to produce the

Veterans Online Rewind Therapy

System, or VORTS for short. We

are truly hoping that this system

could go a long way to reducing

suicides amongst veterans.

Talking of Veterans suicides, it

was good to see the British press

getting behind us over the past

weekend. The story was initiated

by the Sunday Times who had a

little assistance from a certain

well known Veterans magazine

and then on to the rest of the

newspaper world. We have it on

good authority that we will be in

the Sunday Times this week

explaining how we help veterans

in the various ways were we dip

our pinkies.

It was also nice to have a bit of a

round up of the BTCC for 2018

where we have been following

our Patron, Matt and team mate

Dan Cammish. Team Dynamics,

although entered a tough season

with a brand new car certainly

made their mark. Roll on next

year, eh.

Well, that’s it for November. I

hope you all have a great

Remembrance period what ever

you are doing and we look

forward to our Christmas edition

with a bit of fun and games. See

you all next month. Pabs x

The Sandbag Times



“Bob, put that bloody fag out.”


The Brand New Rock Opera which tells the truth of what

happens to our heroes when the killing ends. Packed with

incredible songs, breathtaking graphics and an emotional

rollercoaster of a story that will leave you asking

questions for a long time to come.”

Where Do They Go...

...When the Killing Ends

| 38

Squaddie Humour

Squaddie Humour

A brand new section celebrating the warped

sense of humour of our British Armed Forces

The British Army Telephone

Answering Machine

“Thank you for calling the British Army. I am sorry but all

our units are out at the moment, or are otherwise

engaged. Please leave a message with your country of

origin, name of organisation, the region, the specific crisis

and a number to call you.”

“As soon as we have sorted out the Balkans, Northern

Ireland, The Firemen, Iraq 2, marching up and down bits

of tarmac in London and equal opportunities training, we

will return your call.”

“If your enquiry concerns a situation that can be resolved

by a bit of grey funnel, bunting, flag waving and a really

good marching band, please write WELL in advance to

the First Sea Lord, The Admiralty, London.”

“If your enquiry is not urgent. Press 2 for the Allied Rapid

Reaction Corps.”

“If you are interested in joining the Army and wish to be

shouted at, paid little, have premature arthritis, train to be

a fire-fighter, execute regime changes in hot places, put

your wife and family in a condemned hut miles from civilisation,

and be prepared to work your arse off daily with

leave being cancelled at short notice, whilst watching the

treasury erode your original conditions of service and

career – your call will be connected to a bitter, passedover

recruiting Sergeant in a grotty shop out of town.”

“Thank you for calling the British Army!”

“Please speak after the tone, or if you require more

options, please listen to the following.”

“If your crisis is small and close to the sea, press 1 for

the Royal Marines.”

“If your problem is distant, with a tropical climate and

good hotels, and can be solved by a few low risk – low

level bombing runs, press # for the Royal Air Force. –

Please note this service is not available after 16:30 or at


Back issues of The Sandbag Times are available to download here 39 |


Mrs Fox Goes

To War...

The Chronicles of Little Hope

1939 - 1945

Hilda Ffinch:

The Bird With All The Answers

Hilda Ffinch, Little Hope's very own Agony

Aunt (page 5 of the Little Hope Herald) was

easily bored and terribly rich. She loved nothing

better than taking on the problems of others

and either sorting them out or claiming

that she'd never heard of them if it all went tits

up and they had to leave the district under

cover of darkness having followed her sage


Letter of the Month

Dear Ms Ffinch,

I seem to have developed a slight infatuation with

our parish vicar - the reverend Longbottom.

I am sure he has realised that I have taken a fancy

to him as he takes flight to the vestry whenever

he sees me. I have no idea what has come over

me, but with all the men of the village fighting the

great fight, the reverend has become somewhat

of a tempting proposition.

What can I do to still my beating heart?

Sincerely, Miss Virginia Hotfoot

Dear Miss Hotfoot,

This month’s letter comes from Miss Isabel

Ringer and touches on the vicar’s bell rope

and clappers...

I’m very much afraid, my dear, that the Reverend

Longbottom - currently ‘on loan’ to Greater Hope

from the Parish of Rotherham as their own vicar

is in the Sheffield Infirmary recovering from a particularly

debilitating bout of genuflector’s palsy - is

a man of great moral fibre (and superbly firm

thighs) and is therefore most unlikely to return

your affections. No. Not if you were Mary

Magdalen herself with a fluffy towel in one hand

and a chicken dinner in the other. The man will

not succumb to your feminine wiles no matter

how fast your heart is beating, and should you

contrive to hyperventilate and pass out in the

aisle, then I believe that the verger of Greater

Hope, the redoubtable Mrs Nellie Stocks, is well

trained in first aid and will be on you like a starving

alley cat on a particularly succulent kipper.

I myself have witnessed the Reverand

Longbottom shinning up the ladder into the

church tower of Saint Venereal’s on several occasions

when he has a mind to polish his much coveted

bell clappers. All credit to the man, he’s up

there like a ferret up a drainpipe and clearly has

an impressively firm grip with those delightfully

manly hands of his. Being the Christian woman

| 40


that I am, and out of concern for his personal safety,

I have often stood directly underneath his dangling

trap door with my eyes raised my eyes heavenwards

whilst he’s at it and let me assure you that

the dear man asserts his authority over temptations

of the flesh by the wearing of a pair of jolly tight

hand-knitted wire-wool undercrackers which – I am

sure – completely oppose all enticement of a sexual

nature in the most efficient and uncomfortable


So efficient and uncomfortable in fact, that I hear

that Mrs Titty Grocock has taken to leaving a small

pot of her calendula ointment ‘for the relief of

severe chaffing’ on the vicarage doorstep along with

a couple of spears of asparagus and a small dish of

oysters of an evening.

I am also reliably informed that our very own

Reverend Fishwick has been on hand to offer his

saintly colleague advice on fending off sex-starved

harpies, Lord only knows that the good man has

suffered enough of that nonsense himself. To this

end, please note that the electrical work in the

church at Greater Hope last week has resulted - on

the advice of our vicar - in the wiring of the pulpit

steps to the mains for the purposes of safety once

the Reverend Longbottom is firmly ensconced and

has his psalms out. Please therefore resist any

attempt to prostrate yourself before him mid flow,

as it were, lest you be shot through with an electrical

charge of Biblical proportions and catapulted in

the general direction of Sheffield.

Anglican Men of God, Miss Palpitating Hotfoot, are

put on this earth to lead us away from temptation

and not directly into it, and utter shame on you for

thinking any different. With this in mind, might I

suggest that you have a firm word with your wanton

self and take a cold bath whilst wearing a hair shirt

and a chastity belt on a Sunday morning before

kneeling with bowed head on the poor man’s overstuffed

hassocks? You might also like to consider

taking a drop of holy water with your gin, I’m eighty

percent certain that it won’t cause you to choke or

disappear in a puff of smoke, thunderbolts being

rare at in St Venereal's since the erection of the

Bishop's splendid lightning rod in 1926.

If you’d like Hilda Ffinch, The Bird With All The

Answers to address your own wartime problem,

then pop along to

to subject your personal crisis to her (hopefully)

sober scrutiny. Remember to give yourself a suitable

wartime alias! Letters will be answered online

and a selection of them published in next month’s

Sandbag Times.

Yours judgingly,

Hilda Ffinch,

The Bird With All The Answers

p.s. Mrs Grocock’s ointment is available from the

Jubilee Stores in the High Street for tuppence a jar

should the chastity belt start chaffing a bit but if you

are truly repentant for your lascivious thoughts then

you really ought to just grin and bear it for at least a

week. Do make the effort, there's a dear. 41 |

TO ORDER PLEASE CALL: 01226 734222




Poetry Corner

Valerie Ellis

This is a poem I wrote with personal experience of supporting

a Veteran who is struggling with his Employers. Highly qualified

and talented, the organisation is totally unsupportive and

has no understanding of their obligation regarding the Forces

Covenant. His personal journey I am sure reflects many ex

forces who go into Civvie life highly qualified but the impact of

PTSD and subsequent health issues are not recognised.

They have no clue,

What I been through

They fail to understand.

They do not try

To see my why

And fail to comprehend.

My pain is real

It’s so surreal

They fail to understand.

I did my duty

Tall and Proud

Though my own world

Passed into Cloud.

My daughter, wife

Were faced with strife

But I still served.

I left them both

As duty called

That’s what we do

But now they want to

Lecture me

On my new reality

I struggle with my civvie life

But have the skills to save a life

Why don’t they just

Give me a break

Stop waving rule books

In my face.

I won’t give up my fight

Because I know I’m right.

If they won’t listen, make amends,

I will move on, wont sing their song

They are not my friends.

I’m strong

Look out

In Memory Of Sons And Brothers

Letter writing every day

Five of them had gone astray

Lost to us our Brothers dear

Mother never gave up hope

Then pain it seemed hard

Tolled so much to carry on

But what of us so small?

We battled through it all

But finally it proved too much

Our Mother passed away in pain

Our loss and never knowing

What of them became

Our Father couldn’t cope you see

He died they said, so what of we

Were sent away and separated

Family life was dissipated

But then I knew he had not died

But sent away they all had lied

He couldn’t cope you see

And had to flee to sanctuary


In memory of a wonderful Nan, and all those who lost their

lives in WW1 - Valerie Ellis

PTSD By Valerie Ellis

Sights and sounds and smell,

Body parts, this place is hell.

Missiles, guns, attacks all round,

Then silence and there is no sound.

On drugs and drink, no sleep

In debt, in rehab, noises creep.

Help for Heroes pitied me,

But could not help you see.

Getting clean, was my way out,

One day, my life was turned about.

2 Missionaries that had followed me,

Came to my rescue, they could see.

I needed help, or woe is me,

My saviours, they turned out to be.

I knew, at last, what I must do,

So, with their help, I saw it through.

Now clean, I moved again to ask,

For help as I did in the past.

Help for Heroes welcomed me,

Support I had that set me free.

Now I have found my place in life,

Through all the struggle and the strife.

From Military, to Civvy Street,

From a dark place, I came to meet.

Myself, at last, as Priest. 43 |

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