The Sandbag Times Issue No:53


The Veterans Magazine




Welsh Veterans Awards Launch

The Veterans Awards 2019

Kicks off in Cardiff

Proud Sponsors of

The Veterans Awards Issue 53 | Feb/ Mar 2019

Leading from the front


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27 APR – 28 APR 2019




In Issue 53




Welsh Veterans Awards Launch

The Veterans Awards 2019

Kicks off in Cardiff

Proud Sponsors of

The Veterans Awards

The Welsh Coastline Tab

Jason Haigh

27 Issue 53 | March 2019

In The News

06 Gibraltar Stand Off

Royal Navy called in

Spanish Navy drama

07 Soldier dies in crash

A soldier has died in

Barracks accident

08 Final Flypast revealed

The RAF has released

dates for the final fly

past of the Tornado


18 SBT’s newest member

Read about our latest

team member, Deano

20 All Call Signs

An update on the

breakthrough veterans


22 Veterans Awards

The launch of the

Welsh Veterans

Awards 2019


SBT News 6

All Call Sign

31 Have Faith

With Andrew Hall


All the latest from the


40 Mrs Fox Goes To War

All the goings-on in

Little Hope

| 4


The Editor’s Blog

Looking back

on a very busy

but highly

positive month

in the SBT, I

take stock of

the journey we

have taken over the past three

years. Yes, We originally started in

February 2016 with the Sandbag

Times Blog read by around 50

people every month. Now, we stand

as the premier veterans magazine

with over 250,000 readers every

month, you guys! It’s very


We had the honour of attending the

launch of the Welsh Veterans

Awards over the last week in Cardiff

where, yours truly, was asked to give

a small presentation as sponsors

along with Team Dynamics

Motorsport, our patron’s racing

team. The awards are the main

focus of this issue, and so they

should be. The emphasis will be on

getting the SBT audience to vote for

the veterans they think have gone

above and beyond in respective

award categories. All I will say, is

take a look and get voting.

Jim has also been in front of the

papers, TV cameras and the

Defence Minister speaking on the

suicide issue. Make sure you read

his blog this month.





Finally, it’s great to have SBT Radio

back up and running during the

week but we need presenters. If you

fancy a spot, get in touch with us for

further details. Stay safe all, Pabs.


Editor: Pablo Snow

Patron: Matt Neal

Honourary Patron:

Jacqueline Hurley

Additional editors:

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas

Jane Shields

Andrew Hall

News Media Manager

Jim Wilde

SBT Photographer

Dean Paget

Email: 5 |




British Special Forces ‘Over-

Stretched’ As Recruiting Falls

March Edition

Royal Navy Respond To 'Foolish'

Spanish Warship In Gibraltar

Story: The Mirror

Britain’s elite special forces are

200 soldiers short after

recruitment plunged 20 per cent.

The lack of “good quality” soldiers has

hit the SAS, SBS and SRR, the Special

Reconnaissance Regiment.

Hardest hit is the Special Boat Service,

down in numbers by around 100. The

SRR needs 60 and the celebrated

Special Air Service – motto Who Dares

Wins – is 40 light. Each unit normally

has 340 to 400 soldiers.

Senior defence sources say the SBS

and SRR are now classed as being

“over-stretched” with troops deployed

in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Baltic States

and Africa.

The shortage is being linked to cuts

and a recruitment and retention crisis

affecting the rest of the armed forces.

The Army is down in size from around

150,000 in 1990 to 78,000. Despite that

reduction, the SAS and the SBS have

remained the same size.

A military source said: “The talent pool

is shrinking. A lot of guys who built up

experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and

who would often see the special forces

as the next step have left.

Read more here...

Photo: MOD Story:

The Royal Navy has

responded to a

Spanish warship

with its guns manned

after it ordered commercial

ships to leave British

Gibraltar waters on

Sunday, the territory's

government said.

The warship's crew can

be heard in an audio

recording of a radio

exchange telling vessels

anchored at the Rock to

"leave Spanish territorial

waters". Royal Navy

boats were deployed in

response to the incident

which was branded as

"foolish" by a spokesman

for Her Majesty's

Government of Gibraltar.

The spokesman said:

"There is only nuisance

value to these foolish

games being played by

those who don't accept

unimpeachable British

sovereignty over the

waters around Gibraltar

as recognised by the

whole world in the United

Nations Convention on

the Law of the Sea.

"It seems there are still

some in the Spanish

Navy who think they can

flout international law.

The Gibraltar government

accused the warship of

trying to take "executive

action" against the commercial

boats, which were

anchored on the eastern

side of the Rock.

Read more here...

GET HELP NOW: Rewind @ Tommy Atkins Centre

| 6




March Edition

Disabled Veteran Stripped of Benefits

Story: Morning Star

Adisabled war veteran

says he is distraught

after being stripped of

benefits days before

Christmas in a “Kafkaesque


Ex-RAF man Jonathan

Williams, 56, served with the

UN in Bosnia. He was

trapped under fire in the

siege of Sarajevo, leaving

him with post-traumatic

stress disorder (PTSD).

Mr Williams also served

several tours of duty in

Northern Ireland during the

Troubles and on exercise in

the Arctic Circle was injured

when a helicopter landed on


He left the military on a 60

per cent war pension and

managed to secure an

archaeology degree from

Cardiff University. However,

his PTSD became

overwhelming and prevented

him from working.

Read more here...

British Soldier Dies In Accident At Army Base

Story: Chronicle Live Photo: The Scottish & North Irish Yeomanry/ Facebook

ABritish soldier has died following

a crash at the Catterick

Garrison army base in North


Staff Sergeant John McKelvie, also

known as 'Jock', was in a car that

overturned at Gandale Camp in the

training area on January 29.

He was airlifted to James Cook

University Hospital in

Middlesbrough but died as a result

of his injuries on Monday.

It is believed that a passenger in the

vehicle, also in the military, suffered

Women as Capable as Men Proves TV Show

Four women competed in

the final episode of SAS:

Who Dares Wins for the

first time in the programme's


It comes after the Ministry of

Defence (MOD) announced all

roles in the Armed Forces,

including the special forces, are

open to women. A ban on

women serving in close combat

a suspected broken arm and was

taken to hospital for treatment.

North Yorkshire Police are investigating

the incident.

SSgt McKelvie had served with the

Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry

since the regiment's formation in


An Army spokesperson confirmed

SSgt McKelvie died while on duty,

and said: “Our thoughts are with

Staff Sergeant McKelvie’s family and

friends at this difficult time.”

Read the full story here...

Veteran Wrongly Held on Drug Charges

Story: Photo: Detained in Dubai

Aformer British soldier

recovering from posttraumatic


disorder (PTSD) is being

detained in the United Arab

Emirates after being accused

of selling drugs, despite the

accuser later withdrawing his

statement, it is claimed.

Story: Photo: Channel 4

Andrew Neal, 44, who served

in Iraq, Afghanistan and

Bosnia, is said to have been

held in Dubai for more than

four months after being

accused of selling drugs, a

charge he denies, according

to a legal advocacy group.

Human rights group

Detained in Dubai, which is

representing the Briton's

family, said on Wednesday

the person who accused Mr

Neal of selling drugs had

retracted his statement. More

units in the British military was

lifted by the then Prime Minister

David Cameron back in 2016.

The RAF was the first of the three

services to open up all roles to

women giving them permission

to join the RAF Regiment, the air

force’s ground fighting force for

protecting air bases.

Read more here... 7 |



March Edition

Tributes paid to Royal Navy Leading Hand who died at HMS Drake

Story: Plymouth Herald Photo: Royal Navy

An inquest has

been opened

and adjourned

into the unexpected

death of a Royal Navy

Leading Hand who

died at his

accommodation at

HMS Drake last month.

Simon Jeffers, of

Hillcrest Close,

Plymouth died in his

room at the Cornwall

Block at HMS Drake

on January 6. The

inquest heard how his

wife had become

concerned after not

hearing from him and

alerted a friend who

went in search of the


Sadly, he was found in

the en-suite shower

room of his

accommodation. His

death was not being

treated as suspicious

by police and inquiries

are ongoing to

determine the cause,

pending toxicology


RAF reveals when Tornado farewell flypast will take place

Story: Staffordshire Live Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The RAF has revealed

further details on

when fans of the

iconic Tornado warplane

can see it on its farewell

flypast, taking place to

mark its retirement after 40

years of service.

It was previously revealed

that one of the locations

the jet would be visiting on

its final flypast, between

Tuesday, February 19 and

Thursday, February 21,

would be the National

Memorial Arboretum

The RAF said each of the

points on the Tornado's

final farewell journey had

some sort of special significance

to the life of the warplane.

In a Facebook post, a

spokesperson for RAF

Marham said: "After careful

consideration of a number

of factors, the flypast route

has been set to incorporate

as many locations in

the UK as possible that

have had a link to the

Tornado GR Force over the


To read more and to find

out where you can see the

final Tornado flypasts click

on this link.

At his funeral at St

Nicholas' Church a

eulogy was read out,

touching on his life in

the Royal Navy and

the thoughts of his

friends and


"He was a straightforward,


‘matelot’, calm under

pressure and ever

ready to step-up and

take charge of his

fellow sailors. Many a

young Able Seaman

benefited from his wise

words, whether in

HMS Cornwall in the

Persian Gulf or on

operations with HMS

Portland in the North

Atlantic or standing

guard at the main gate

in Plymouth.

"He was a fine sailor

and ‘Gunner’. More

than that he was a fine

man. A man who put

others first; a man who

wanted to better

himself; a man who

loved his family deeply

and wanted to make

them proud."

Read more here...

Royal Navy Appoints New

Senior Officers


Anumber of

new senior

officials have

been appointed by

the Royal Navy.

The Navy has confirmed

that Vice

Admiral Tony

Radakin will

become the First

Sea Lord, the most

senior naval position.

He will take over

later this year when

current First Sea

Lord Admiral Philip

Jones retires.

Rear Admiral

GET HELP NOW: Text Combat Stress

07537 404719

Nicholas Hine is to

be promoted to

Vice Admiral and

Second Sea Lord,

while Vice Admiral

Ben Key is set to

become Chief of

Joint Operations.

Vice Admiral Key

will become only

the third sailor to

hold the post of

Chief of Joint

Operations at

Northwood headquarters


takes over next


Read more on this

story here...

| 8

Two former


have become the

oldest pair to row

across the Atlantic

Ocean, with a

combined age of 123.

Neil Young and Peter

Ketley, known as the

'Grandads of the

Atlantic', rowed the

3,000-mile journey

from La Gomera to

Antigua in 63 days, 40

minutes and six


Mr Young and Mr

Ketley met during their

time in the Parachute

Regiment and have

remained friends for

40 years. They had no

rowing experience

before taking on the


Speaking to Forces

News after completing

the race, Mr Ketley

said: "It was absolutely


"I'm glad it has ended -

I can't say the whole

thing was enjoyable,

the longevity of the

whole event was rather

difficult to take on but

we've learnt so much

and the experience is

something that will

stay with us forever."

The pair faced some

difficulties early on in

the race that slowed

their progress.

"We had a lot of

technical issues and

we had some

breakages, the rowing

seat ball bearings

were all over the

place, we lost various

nuts off the seat, we

had a broken oar in a

massive wave that hit

the boat," Mr Young


"We were also without

the autohelm that

effectively helps steer

the boat - you punch

in the numbers you

want it to go on and it

helps steer the boat.

"We went without that

for 28 days so we've

had plenty of technical

issues to deal with.

"But lots of good parts

of the rowing as well,

we enjoyed seeing the

whales that we saw

three times, (it was)

fantastic seeing them

coming under the

boat, turning over and

showing their bellies!"

Mr Young described

pulling into the finish

line at Nelson's

Dockyard English

Harbour in Antigua as

"the most surreal

place" after seeing


Former Paratroopers Become Oldest Pair To Row Atlantic Ocean


nothing but "10 ships"

over the course of 63


The Talisker Whiskey

Atlantic Challenge had

a large military

presence with 19 of

the race's rowers

either veterans or

serving personnel.

Read more here... 9 |


With Jim Wilde

Jim’s Back and Fighting Hard

Well, what a

busy couple of

months. A very

busy time for the

magazine, and the folks

that drive it. The opening of the Tommy Atkins Centre was a

pivotal moment for us. We now have a fully functional

Veterans Centre in Worcester, and we are already making a

difference to many veterans lives. The "Rewind Trauma

Therapy" facility is under way, and I am convinced the work of

Dr Muss and his team will make a huge difference to those

that need treatment for PTSD and associated mental issues.

There has been plenty of news for inclusion this month, and

Pablo has to work wonders to get as much of it into issue that

he can. The media and press still reflect our work, which continues

to promote awareness for Veterans issues, including

the continuing focus on Veterans Suicides, and the action

needed to mitigate and reduce the unprecedented losses we

are enduring. Over the last year, I have been working with

"Veterans United Against Suicide", and Jeff Williams and the

team, with the focus on raising the awareness for these

issues. A big thank you to Jeff, for his continued dedication

and hard work in this area.

We have managed to get various posts into the media, and by

the time you read this, I hope to have appeared on ITV News,

speaking about the way forward, and what can be done that

will offer support and awareness to those that need it. I am

still of the opinion, that mental health training needs to be

included in all aspects of basic training of those joining the

Military, in order that personnel are aware of the likely impact

that serving in a combat zone may bring. There are many

organisations out there that are working hard to find solutions

to what has become a major talking point in the veterans communities.

and we are sure that you will have suggestions on how those

sort of problems can be addressed. If you have any ideas or

suggestions that you think may help in this area, please drop

us a line to any one of the following emails addresses:

Alternatively, find us at

Of course, we also have our radio channel which can be

accessed at:

We are on air Monday - Friday from 10am - 2pm playing

requests, and addressing all sorts of issues. We have a chat

room where you can ask questions, submit requests, and

generally shoot the breeze with like-minded individuals. Pop

in, you might enjoy it!.

Whilst on that subject, we are always on the lookout for new

talent, so if you are a budding DJ, or fancy having a go at

broadcasting, be sure to drop us a line on anyone of the

above links. We will make sure you have all you need to get

on air, and set you up for connection to the world :).

Okay folks, gonna keep this relatively short this month, as I

know Pablo is limited on real estate! As always, thank you for

supporting the magazine, and make sure you subscribe to

ensure you get the latest news sent directly to your inbox.

Stay safe wherever you are, and remember, check on your

buddies from time to time.... It may save a life.

Jim Wilde

Over the coming weeks and months, we intend to get out and

about and visit some of the Armed Forces Breakfast Clubs,

and talk to many of you about how civilian life is treating you,

and some of the challenges you may have faced during your

transition from the Military into your new job/life. There is a

huge resource of knowledge in these clubs, and we should

tap into that, and use the experiences and ideas that this huge

veterans community can offer.

Not everyone leaves the forces without some sort of upheaval,


0800 731 4880

| 10




...Let her

help you to

open doors

Your First Civilian Job is

Not Your Last Civilian Job

When I start working with a client going through the transition process, I repeat the above statement to

them on a regular basis. Why?

1] The first civilian job is there to prepare the way for your journey ahead. The job gives you the opportunity

to understand the civilian employment market and work out your true worth. It can be very hard readjusting

and understanding how your military skills are invaluable to a civilian employer. Being able to see

the overview of a situation and then putting in place a plan of action is a key skill. You will be a ‘role

model’ for those around you. Your remaining calm under pressure will positively infect your colleagues –

and will be noted by the management team.

2] Changing jobs every two years in the military is a superb learning experience. It prevents stagnation.

You are always preparing for the next move, the next job, promotions and so on. Learning new skills is the

professional norm. This mind set is attractive.

3] Many military CV clients have taken a leap of faith and have decided to go down a different path career

wise. Their decision for their second career path is often based on the wishes to be work closer to their

families. Understandable when your military career has regularly involved working away from home. My

clients who have decided this is the path for them have used this experience to network locally. Garner

intelligence and plan for their second civilian job. The pressures are off them. Decisions made with angst

are never wise ones.

4] Cul-de-sac jobs. If after a few months in your first civilian job you think to yourself ‘WHY WHY WHY’.

Stop – take a deep breath and review the situation. The job has broadened your skill set. You have deepened

your understanding of the civilian job market. When CV clients come to me and say they have made

a mistake – I kindly tell them that they should view their first job as an extended Work Experience placement.

The job has served its purpose. Do not be hard on yourself.

As part of my coaching and mentoring support I advise clients on how to tweak their CV for every job they

apply for. I now have three former clients in their 6th job.

Your first civilian job is not your last civilian job.

GET HELP NOW: Combat Stress

0800 138 1619 11 |



The Kwikfit BTCC 2019 is just a few weeks

away and has never looked more exciting

Yes folks, it’s that time again. The brand new season of

excitement and mayhem is in it’s final countdown and

boy, does it look exciting.

Matt, Dan and the team have been hard at it over the winter

months with developing, testing, tweeking and preparing for

their frontal assault on the rest of the field in the British

Touring Car Championship 2019.

Team Dynamics are running the Honda Civic Type R FK8 for

the second season, albeit with a new livery yet to be unveiled.

By the next issue, the new car will be revealed just in time for

us to go racing.

Matt will be hunting down his fourth title alongside Dan

Cammish, who enters his second season in BTCC. I have to

admit, I think Dan is going to be one to watch this year after

his dynamic (excuse the pun) 2018 debut season. Hi is now

blooded, used to the BTCC field, used to the car and has

wins under his belt but this year he is not a novice.

I am also excited to be releasing the SBT’s guide to the

season with Team Dynamics. (pictured right). I am holding on

to it until the new livery has been revealed officially, (yes, the

car on the front of the cover will change to the 2019 car).

The guide will feature the team, the drivers profiles, a full

guide to the car complete with specs plus a detailed look at

all of the circuits in the 2019 season with a look back on last

seasons performance on each track. All ticket booking details

will also be supplied to ensure you can join us throughout the


It also takes a look at the rest of the field and I have to say, it

has never looked more juicy. There have been plenty of

changes, new drivers, new cars, you name it, it’s happened

during the quiet months.

season will be a championship never to forget. We will be at

all races with the exceptions of Croft, Snetterton and Knochhill

providing our readers, and hopefully our radio listeners with

the latest action.

There will be the odd competition throughout the year with a

few tickets going up for grabs which you will be able to enter

exclusively with Sandbag Times Veterans Magazine and Team

Dynamics Motorsport so keep checking back to ‘Off the Grid’.

Finally, you can follow all of the action this year along with all

of the support races such as Porsche Carrera Cup, GT

Ginetta classes and the Mini Challenge which replaces the

Renault Clio Cup, all on ITV4. If you cannot visit the events,

get the gogglebox turned on and keep up with the action as it


Let’s go racing!

To name just a few, we see an old name returning to

competitive racing in a new class. Ex-Formula 1 star, Mark

Blundell, dons his helmet and straps himself into the AmD

Trade Price Audi. Lewis Hamiltons brother, Nic, steps up to

BTCC in the Motorbase performance Ford Focus RS. We also

see Matt’s old rival, Jason Plato reseated into the Power

Maxed Racing Vauxhall after a season to forget in the Suburu.

To say I cannot wait for the green lights at Brands Hatch this

year is a major understatement. The excitement will be

colossal and I will stick my neck out and say that the 2019

| 12


Patron to The Tommy Atkins Centre




Tell us #HCRlaw

Our defence, security and the forces team has been selected for their

skills and passion in providing legal advice to the sector – we also draw

on the expertise of consultants who have many years of involvement

with the military and related industries.

Richard Morgan, Partner, Head of Defence Security and the Forces

Talk to us: 01432 349670 | Visit us online: Join the discussion: @HCRlaw

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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

| 14




Following a year of careful research, planning and fundraising,

we are delighted to announce the official launch of StrongMen.

We believe that this unique brotherhood will help improve the

physical and mental health of men who’s lives have been

devastated by bereavement.

By connecting with the outdoors StrongMen provides a safe

environment for activity based workshops, relaxation and


Please support our cause and help get the word out there. For

more information visit our website and

follow our social media platforms.

GET HELP NOW: Tommy Atkins

01905 813936 15 |

The Tommy Atkins Centre

Tommy Atkins Centre January

Hi everyone, hope you’re all in good spirits. I

can’t believe it’s almost March already. We’ve

been so busy recently that the days are flying

past. Pablo & I went along to the launch of the

Welsh Veterans Awards recently in Cardiff, as

The Sandbag Times and Team Dynamics are

sponsors of the event. If you know any

deserving veterans who have gone that extra

mile in any field and are worthy of recognition

for it please get in touch and nominate them.

It’s very easy to do.

Back to the centre, and we, Pabs & I, are

badgering away to find the best solutions we

can for the vast diversity of issues our veteran

community present to us with. Our

psychotherapist Lisa has been very busy too

with clients. Our Veterans Online Rewind

Therapy Service is beginning to pick up now,

along with the service offered at our centre to

those who are able to attend in person. It’s

wonderful to see the difference it is making so

quickly to those so desperate for assistance.

We’re very proud to operate alongside our local

SSAFA and Combat Stress organisations, and

work closely with both to ensure we can all

offer our veterans the very best assistance

possible. We are all working as hard to find

solutions to some very complex issues that

some of our veterans present with. And Pablo

is weaving his magic with our local housing

department whenever necessary to make sure

any local homeless veterans are

accommodated as soon as we hear about

them, whilst we are also supporting any further

needs they may have such as mental health or

benefit issues etc.

Here’s to some warmer weather coming our

way soon. Spring is definitely not too far away

now, and the clocks will be going forwards in a

few weeks time. Please remember to look out

for each other, and give that elusive mate a call

if you feel he’s been awol for too long. A

quick hello and a brief chat can make all the


Jane xx


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

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We are here to help, contact your local Welfare O

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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

| 16


The Tommy Atkins Centre

Supporting Veterans in the Community

c/o KGV Community Centre

10 Ash View



Fridays - 1000hrs-1430hrs

01905 813936

Welcome Dean ‘Deano’ Paget to the SBT Ranks

Professional Photographer Dean, brings Final Image Photography

as the brand new media source to the UK’s No:1 Veterans Magazine

All images courtesy of Final

Image Photography and are

subject to copyright

We couldn’t be happier, here at the

SBT Ivory Tower, to have a great

photographer on board with us, Our

old mate, Vince, although he will still be joining

us on the BTCC Tour, is now elsewhere


So, let’s introduce Dean ‘Deano’ Paget to the

team. And what a pedigree he brings. Not

only is he a top class photographer, but he is

also a veteran, fitting him right in with the rest

of the gang.

Dean 46, joined the 1st Bn, Duke of

Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment in 1993 and saw

active service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and

three tours of Afghanistan. During his army

career he qualified as a driving instructor,

eventually becoming his units Chief Driving

Instructor and running the driver training cell

for five years. He also became a Recruit Coordinator

in the Army Careers Office, Oxford

and Salisbury. During a posting in Chepstow,

he also volunteered for Severn Area Rescue

Mountain rescue and Lifeboat crew. A

position he stayed with for seven years. If

that wasn’t enough, Dean also found time to

join the Army Motorcycle Racing Team. A

passion which has also brought him trackside

to some major motorcycle action including

the BSB. (Hmm, I sense a job for him already

with our friend in the BTCC).

After 24 years in the Army, Dean finally

arrived on ‘civvy street’. He has since sought

a career in Media and PR. This has led to his

own company, Final Image Photography, a

business venture he runs with his wife, Trish.

Dean and Trish live in Torfraen, Pontypool

with daughter, Brylee (10). He also has two

other daughters of 21 and 18.

So now you know all about Dean, let’s

welcome him fully to our world. Although,

initially, Dean is coming on board as a

photographer, I’m sure we will see a lot of

him in our pages in the near future as he

beds himself in with the team. He already

has some great ideas for the mag.

If you have an event coming soon and you

would like some great photos then please get

in touch with us to arrange for Dean to come

along and do his thing.

You can find out more on the following links:

| 18

Accommodation Support


For Further Details:

Tel: 01746 833797/ 830191/ 872940

Fax: 01746 835774

Catterick Mil: 94731 2940


The Breakthrough New Project Which

Saves The Lives of Veterans

Throughout The UK

During last year, I had the

pleasure of speaking to a

veteran from my old battalion.

Daniel Arnold, a veteran from 2nd Bn

Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

(the Tigers), told me of his intention

to start a ground breaking new

project where, in the case of veterans

go missing, an alert beacon is put in

place and is sent out through social

media. As you will read, this has

been a great success and has saved


It this month’s SBT, we are honoured

to feature All Call Signs and bring you

an update on the project by the guys

that have made it all happen.

All Call Signs

It’s coming up to our 6th months

since we started this venture

(already!), and in that time we’ve

managed to grow exponentially.

(either through aiding the police or

actually finding them and bringing

them to safety). Two Beacons have

unfortunately ended with bodies

being recovered and two are still


One notable success story was an All

Call Signs subscriber who works in a

hotel, had served breakfast to one of

our missing veterans that morning.

The police were able to go and speak

to him directly on the back of that

information, which led to his safe


When we last spoke we had just

launched. Our Beacon Application

(for recovering at risk troops when

they go missing) had a very modest

300 subscribers and our chat

application was being manned by 30


Since then, Beacon has grown to

3,500+ users, our chat application is

the largest peer support network in

the UK with 330+ dedicated support

listeners, all with a military

background. We consistently see new

chats of around 50 per week being

started on the network and regularly

signpost to other charities and

organisation for everything from

housing and work opportunities to

therapy for mental health issues.

We’ve launched 22 Beacon Alerts,

this is a call to action that goes out to

all subscribers in order to ensure any

veterans or service personnel at risk

are recovered before making a poor

decision. To date, 18 Beacons have

been resolved, 8 with direct

intervention from a Beacon subscriber

We have been campaigning on behalf

of veterans for improvements in the

provisions surrounding mental health,

this has seen us speaking directly

with members of parliament and even

having a round table discussion with

the deputy defence secretary Gavin

Jones MP to discuss our ideas and

proposed solutions. We have seen

positive change, including the

government announcing they will

instruct coroners to record veteran

suicide correctly; a key necessity to

ensure better funding and awareness

of veteran suicide.

We have also forged strong ties and

working relationships with other

organisations working for veterans

such as The veterans Charity, Royal

British Legion and we will be working

closely in the future to improve

veteran’s lives. This approach

coupled with our podcast, PTSD and

me, which we started to talk about

what it is to live with PTSD and inform

people how they can manage and

support loved ones who may be

struggling too, has seen a huge

| 20


change in the perception of mental health issues

in and around the armed forces.

We are currently working on a wellness app

aimed at armed forces personnel struggling with

poor mental health. What started out as a

passion project in the wake of our friend’s

suicide in May last year. Its likely we will both be

full time with All Call Signs in the not too distant

future and will still likely require more manpower

to meet demand.

None of this could of happened without the

fantastic support we have received from the

public and the press and for this we are

massively thankful! Thank you for the part you

have played.


You can find out more about All Call Signs by

clicking on the links below: 21 |


At last, the great things that Veterans do are finally going to

be recognised at the 2019 Welsh & English Veterans Awards

Host: DJ Polly James

February 13th Saw

the launch of the

First National

Veterans Awards

for Wales!


by the






TASC Holdings


The event took

place in the iconic

Pierhead Building and

was hosted by Capital

FM DJ Polly James.

Speaking at the Event was

Mark Isherwood AM, Pete

Davies , Regional Director (ABF The

Soldiers' Charity) Pablo Chief Editor

(The Sandbag Times) and Sean Molino

(Founder of the Awards)

During the Launch the dance group Project

Action Potential in association with Jukebox

Collective preformed a moving performance

of their dance ' Lest We Forget' . This Saw

members of the dance group hold a minute

silence and give poppies out to the audience.

The event was attended by a number of

Dignitaries, Military personnel, Assembly

Members, Veteran Owned Company

Directors,, Councillors and a number of

Veteran Community Charities and


In Wales there are tens of thousands of

former military personnel, who upon

retirement from the armed forces have gone

on to contribute immensely to our Country.

The Veterans Awards looks to celebrate these

true hero’s.

The Veterans Awards will be rewarding

veterans for their achievements in business,

Fitness, Sport and the wider Community.

Peter Davies, Regional Director Wales, ABF

The Soldiers’ Charity said:

“It’s great to celebrate the success of our

Veterans Community, and great that Wales

should have a national awards for our Armed

Forces Veterans and the Companies that

support them. I’m looking forward to a great

evening in Swansea and listening to their

inspirational stories. ”

Founder of the Welsh Veterans Awards Sean

Molino said “ I am so pleased with the

response and to have so many dignitaries

attend the launch and offer their support I am

truly thankful! As a Former Welsh

Guardsman, Junior Non Commissioned

Officer and Physical Training Instructor. The

aim of these awards is to promote veterans

that are doing great things on Civvy Street.

We want to promote all short listed applicants

through a series of Video Blogs, Social media

releases and our website, so that they will act

as Role models for future service leavers.”

These awards are extremely close to my

heart. As a former serving soldier I can

understand how difficult transition is and how

we require help and guidance along the way,

even at times if we don't ask for support.”

“I want our Veterans Awards and social

media presence to become a place where

serving military and veterans can discover

some great advice and tips from veterans,

| 22


who are doing truly inspirational things upon

leaving the military. I hope we can inspire

future service leavers that great things can be

achieved with help and support.”

The Welsh Veterans awards are sponsored

by TASC Holdings Ltd - and will also be

raising money for “ABF The Soldiers Charity”.

The inaugural awards evening will be hosted

by Capital FM’s Polly James on the 26th June

at the Village Hotel Swansea.

If you know a Veteran that's gone above and

beyond then please nominate now at

The SandbagTimes &

Team Dynamics Motorsport

Being asked to give a presentation at the

launch of these wonderful awards was

nothing short of a complete honour. The

partnership of SBT and Team Dynamics has

been a very special privilege for me,

especially as we now go into a very strong

racing season with the most successful

British Touring Car Championship team there

has ever been. Our patron, Matt Neal has

been a long time supporter of veterans and

has continued to hold this close to his heart

despite an incredibly busy schedule.

When I first heard about the Awards, I

immediately jumped on board to offer our

media assistance and very soon after, Sean

and I had discussed the partnership

sponsoring the awards.

At the launch I was privileged to not only

speak about the my personal story, the SBT

and the Tommy Atkins Centre, our own

veterans hub, but also to represent Team

Dynamics. Hopefully, my aim in speaking for

all was achieved.

So, finally, I am very pleased to say that SBT

and Team Dynamics Motorsport will be the

official sponsors for Contribution to the Welsh

Fitness Industry and Society in the Welsh

Veterans Awards and Veterans Business of

the Year Award in the English Veterans


All that’s left, is to reiterate the message from

Sean and his team, Get Voting!


Pete Davis, ABF 23 |


This week saw the farewell flypasts of the

RAF Tornado at the locations below.

Tuesday, February 19


National Memorial Arboretum

DECA Stafford

RAF Cosford

RAF Shawbury

DECA Sealand

RAF Valley

BAES Warton

BAES Samlesbury

RAF Spadeadam

RAF Leeming

RAF Topcliffe

RAF Linton-on-Ouse

RAF Waddington

RAF Cranwell

RAF Coningsby

RAF Donna Nook

RAF Holbeach

Wednesday, February 20

RAF Honington

IWM Duxford

Former RAE Bedford

Cranfield Airfield

RAF Halton

RAF High Wycombe

RAF Benson

HQ Land Forces

MOD Boscombe Down

RAF Pembrey

MOD St Athan

Cardiff Airport


Abbey Wood

MOD Shrivenham

RAF Brize Norton

Thursday, February 21

Leuchars Station

RAF Tain

RAF Lossiemouth

“She Came, She Saw, She

| 24

Conquered” 25 |

| 26

The Great Welsh Coastal Path Walk

Jason Haigh


The Welsh Veterans Awards Launch was

full of surprises this month. Not least,

the story of a veteran who was walking

the Welsh Coastal Path from Conwy to

Chepstow, a total of over 700 miles.

On Friday 15th February 2019, after 41 days,

Jason Haigh completed his monstrous tab

which he started at Bangor on 6th January to

raise funds for the Royal British Legion. He

has hoped to raise £3000 for the charity in

total. At the time of writing this article, his

Just Giving page alone, has raised £1,608.

But it is not just through the online

connections where he has raised funds.

During his journey, he was overwhelmed by

the generosity of the public. According to the

Cambrian News, many people gave


“It started up on the Llyn peninsula when a

guy pulled over and offered me a lift into

town because the main road I was on was

too dangerous to walk,” he said.

“He then proceeded to offer a donation

towards the charity.

The second time, again a chap pulled over

and offered me a lift into town - a lot of

sections of the route were diverted along

main roads for one reason or another.

“Entering Porthmadog, I stopped for

breakfast where a family overheard my

conversation and proceeded to ask for my

Justgiving page and straight-away donated.

“This was quickly followed by the staff of the

café approaching me and offering me all their

spare change as a donation.

“This took me by surprise and was quite


“All these complete strangers I’ve met along

my journey so far all have showed pure

kindness and a willingness to help wherever

they can, and for that I’ll always be grateful.

“It just goes to show that no matter how

much evil and bad is in the world good

people still exist and still do good things.”

During the walk, Jason also catalogued the

War Memorials along the way, also of interest

to the Royal British Legion. Talking of the

RBL Jason said “I chose the RBL because

they have helped me in the past and a very

close friend had been a huge part of the

legion and after watching his involvement and

how much time he gives up it got close to my


Jason served in the Worcestershire and

Sherwood Foresters.although he says he

didn’t serve abroad.

The JustGiving page is still open for those

who still wish to donate and can be found at:

You can also find out more about Jason’s

journey on Facebook and Instagram by going

to Jasons Welsh Walk

Jason Haigh 27 |

Go wild for Rival Survival

Challenge in aid of charity

Are you ready to put your survival skills

to the test and survive for 48-hours in

a mystery outdoor location for charity?

Teams, groups and individuals can put their

survival skills to the test this May, while

raising funds for a veteran’s charity.

Cornish sailing charity Turn to Starboard is

hosting a gruelling Rival Survival Challenge

at a mystery rural location in Devon on

Friday 10 May. The charity is looking for

volunteers to go back to basics in a series of

exciting and realistic survival scenarios and

sign up for the 48-hour challenge.

Working in teams, participants will brave the

wilderness while testing their mental and

physical stamina, speed and creativity to

outscore opponents and take home the

winner’s trophy. Experienced survival

instructors will be on hand to give advice on

essential survival skills such as shelter

building, fire lighting, bush craft, water

purification, self-sufficiency, foraging and

natural navigation.

The fun event takes place at mystery location

on the south coast of Devon across varied

terrain including ancient woodland, secret

beaches, smugglers coves, rivers and

historic buildings.

Event Marketing Coordinator, Izzy Galloway,

said: “Whether you are looking to take part

as an individual, with friends or work

colleagues, Rival Survival is a great event for

team bonding, learning new skills and

having plenty of fun! Those brave enough to

sign up will be deprived of modern amenities

for 48 hours and will take part in a series of

military-themed challenges against other


“Entrants can expect to build a shelter, light

a fire, forage for food, navigate the terrain,

| 28


swim, kayak, make a raft from natural

materials, learn emergency first aid and

evacuation skills and tackle an assault

course before zip wiring to the finish line.

The challenge is open to everyone, including

individuals, groups and corporates, and no

previous experience is necessary. A team of

friendly and professional survival instructors

will be on hand to guide you through the

challenges while teaching you a wide range

of valuable skills. The contest will finish with

a prize-giving ceremony and a well-earned

barbeque on Sunday.

“Registration costs £25 per person and

although you are not required to hit a

sponsorship target, we would really

appreciate it if you could try to raise some

extra money to help us support injured

veterans and their families.”

over and suitable for those with a reasonable

level of fitness. Items such as mobile phones

and hidden food and drinks will be banned

at the gruelling event, and the only a few

basic tools will be provided.

Turn to Starboard use sail training to support

Armed Forces personnel affected by military

operations and their families. The Falmouthbased

charity organise many other

fundraising initiatives which take place

throughout the year, including a life raft

challenge, It’s a Knockout contest, black tie

dinners, disco nights and other special


If you would like to enter, or donate to the

fundraising challenge, contact Event

Coordinator Ellen on 01326 314262 or, or to find out

more visit

The event is open to everyone aged 16 and 29 |

Battle Scars: A Story of War and All

That Follows By Jason Fox - SAS: Who Dares Wins

This is a true story.

The events

depicted took

place during the last

decade in an unnamed

warzone. The names

and locations have

been redacted to protect

the security of

those involved and the

practices of the British

Special Forces.


“A vivid, searing

account of a life at


Bear Grylls

Out of respect for the

KIA and survivors,

everything else has

been told as it happened…

Jason Fox served with

the SBS for over a

decade, thriving on the

close bonds of the

Special Forces brotherhood

and the ‘death or

glory’ nature of their


Battle Scars tells the

story of his career as an

elite operator, from the

gunfights, hostage rescues,

daring escapes

and heroic endeavours

that defined his service,

to a battle of a very different

kind: the psychological

devastation of

combat that ultimately

forced him to leave the

military, and the hard

reality of what takes


The most important

book you’ll ever read…

Battle Scars will save


Tom Marcus, author of


in the mind of a man

once a career of imagined

invincibility has

come to an end.

Unflinchingly honest,

Battle Scars is a breathtaking

account of

Special Forces soldiering:

a chronicle of operational

bravery, and of

superhuman courage

on and off the battlefield.

Order Your Copy Here

GET HELP NOW: NHS England South East

020 3317 6818

| 30


Come Unto Me all you who are weary - Pt3

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46

If you read the entire Psalm 46, you will realise that God is a

God to be feared. Not the marshmallow God that is created by

some churches, the type who welcomes anyone and lets anyone

do what they want – a bit like the parents who let their kids

run out of control and ruin the peace and quiet of a restaurant

or family gathering (everyone else gritting their teeth). In

Proverbs 9 we are told the “The fear of the Lord is the beginning

of wisdom.” For years in my teens and early twenties I ran

astray like the young man who went away with his inheritance.

Then when I was 23 I read in Hebrews about how God is a

jealous God who is not despised and that for some who go

completely astray there can be no return. I was terrified that I

had lost my salvation but the remembered that even in my

youthful wanderings I had always prayed at night and read

parts of scripture from time to time and on one memorable

occasion I read all four gospels the day before a series of

actions (really a running battle) against terrorists that began

that night with an ambush. However I had been the like the

son who had gone astray and came back to my Lord in deep

sorrow. Well that re-awakening taught me a lesson about the

fear of God. Psalm 6 became my personal example of my fear

before God. O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither

chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal

me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but

thou, O LORD, how long? Return, O LORD, deliver my soul:

oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no

remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to

swim; I water my couch with my tears.

Proverbs 3.

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from

evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of

all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and

thy presses shall burst out with new wine. My son, despise not

the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the

son in whom he delighteth.

We have established that with this fear we should depart from

evil, nor should we despise the chastening of the Lord. In his

great love for us he will chasten and correct as a father corrects

his own son in whom he delights. But read it again, this is not

just advice, this is written in the imperative. So too “be still”.

Be still and know that I am God. He is not saying “well you can

do this but don’t bother if you don’t want to”. In today’s world of

relative values it is sad that even in the church this relativism

has crept in (2 Tim do read this entire chapter and you shall

see that we have the ultimate yardstick in scripture) – which is

why some modern “wolves in sheeps clothing” like to undermine

the scriptures today and the last thing they want is for

people of God to be still and contemplate, read, learn scripture.

Be still – this is written in the imperative – why? Because it is

GOOD for you. Take time out to read the word of God. Pray on

it, meditate on it. Over time, what was a fear of God becomes

a great deepening love. There are times I sit silence, pray and

worship my Lord. I feel for his wounds and death for me more

and more. Frances of Assisi wanted to be like Jesus and emulate

him in every way to the extent of being obedient to the

word and giving up all his worldly goods, to live like him on

poverty. Through that the Lord taught him to have a burning

love and compassion for the outcast – the lepers and the poor

of his day.

Like Francis, if you feel like praising the Lord in song then do

so, it is not just for church to do this. Two years after my

reawakening at 23 I was walking down a street in South Africa

singing some hymns and gospel songs. Then suddenly the

Lord spoke to me verbally, one sentence, that was all and is

was of great encouragement to me. Like Samuel I had a quick

look around (in case it was Eli), there was no one but me and

the few cars on the road and then I realised with great joy that

it was the Lord. Since then there has been the occasion that

the Lord has come to me in a dream with a message, like once

a particular verse in scripture glowing gold on a page, I woke

up and wrote the scripture down, collect my thoughts, make a

cup of tea then look up the scripture. He speaks to his people

in many different ways. Most often it is through scripture and

thus as time goes by you will find you will remember scriptures

more and more – one reason why I use the King James Bible

as it is easier for me to memorise like Shakespeare’s plays

than a modern version. For ease of reading I like the Living


Be still and know that I am God. Be still and you shall become

aware of many things that you paid no attention to before. A

wonderful verse from the book of Revelation is “Behold, I stand

at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the

door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with


A great artist Holman Hunt made a painting of this, here is the

copy of the one in St Pauls Cathedral. It depicts Christ knocking

on the door of a person’s mind. This door has remained

shut for ages and is overgrown. There is no handle on the outside,

it can only be opened from within.

If you have read this and heard these things for the first time,

then I implore you, can you hear Christ Calling? If so will you

open the door and invite him in? Do not be afraid. If you, like

all good sheep, have gone astray, do you hear him calling for

you. Be still and know that I am God.

Peace and all Good

Brother Andrew Hall (TSSF)

GET HELP NOW: NHS England North

0191 441 5974 31 |



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+

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


GET HELP NOW: Return To The Tribe

| 34

Veterans Breakfast Clubs


On 14th to 16th June 2019 the inaugural All Arms Festival

(AAF) will be held in the Yorkshire Wartime Experience

grounds on Hunsworth Lane at BD19 4DT

The AAF format is based on the Company/Squadron/Ship

smoker. You will meet up with old friends and make many

new ones. Those stories that you have from your service-life

did not stop when you left, you will make new ones at these

fests. Bring your camper, caravan, tent, basha or jack up

together with your mates. You can either bring everything you

need, or use the catering and bar provided. There will be a

bar, bands, toilets and general National Lampoon-ism. Bring

a flag showing your unit(s) and wear all your old unit’s

sweatshirts with pride. Berets and military headdress are

encouraged but blazers and ties are not. They are a bitch to

clean when you fall face down on the grass. Fancy dress is

Friday night and sometimes Saturday as well. (Go wild with


This is like the Army v Navy rugby but… for the whole

weekend and much much cheaper! We have been running

these fests since 2012 so hopefully by now we may know

what we are doing. This will be the weekend that you will look

forward to for the entire year because it will allow you to be

that 21 year old serviceman again in a field with like-minded



As a clinical social worker, I've worked for many years to help

combat depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicide. I did this for

years as an active duty Navy social worker. I've done this for

years as a civilian. I'm one that always asks questions. I'm

passionately curious. I was stationed 3x in Okinawa - and the

Okinawans live longer than anyone in the world.

A few weeks ago - I was talking with a colleague over in the

UK - Zoe Warner. We share the same passion for people. We

Early bird until end Feb - £40

Ticket in Advance - £45

Ticket on the gate - £55

No dogs or civilians allowed due to their mess getting into

your tent on your footwear.

Gates open 1200hrs Fri and close on Sunday when you all

leave. (Get a Halfords Alcohol test kit for Sunday)

Start packing your G1098, put your leave request into your

better half now (unless they served in which case bring them)

and book early.


are both fighting Veteran suicide on both sides of the pond.

There are thousands of 'suicide prevention' programs in the

US and thousands in the UK. None have worked. So, I asked

Zoe, "what is working over there?". She said "one thing,

Breakfast Clubs". Not connected with any government agency,

not connected with any non-profit, no money involved.

Just Veterans eating breakfast together, fellowshipping,

"returning to their Tribes". So simple and yet so brilliant. And

guess what? We have nothing else like this. We started the

very first Breakfast Club in the US on 6 Feb 2019 in Raleigh,

NC. 13 of us. Most had never met. After two hours together,

no one wanted to leave. This was our Tribe. Vietnam Vets,

younger Vets, male, female, a Marine, Sailors, an Airman, a

few Soldiers. We had so much in common, the struggles,

how we coped with life, what we had experienced, what we

could never forget. Everyone at that table got it. And we all

realized - we needed each other and we had nothing else like

this. All you have to do is sit down with your Tribe, enjoy a

meal - and then you get it. A light goes off. So simple. And

no amount of money or number of programs can replicate

this. It's about relationships.

Jim Condon

Raleigh (USA) AFVBC.


35 |

Watford & Hemel Hempstead AFVBC and Royal

British Legion Rider member wins RBLR top award.

Anumber of awards are given to

the Branch members each year

to reward those who provide

exemplary service to the Branch.

The Andy Simmons Shield

Andy was one of the early members

of the Branch, he was the first one of

us to have his photo taken wearing

the branch badge on his vest. In

2005, while he was still a serving

WO2 in the Royal Regiment of

Fusiliers, he very tragically died of a

heart attack whilst out on a run. As he

was the first, but sadly not the last to

go from the Branch, we decided to

dedicate a memorial shield awarded

annually to the person the committee

thinks has given more above and

beyond for the Branch.

The 2018 winner was Steve Knight

Awarded in recognition of the

outstanding work carried out above

and beyond that required, including

working with the Cabbies Veterans

run and other events in his county or

Hertfordshire and beyond.

The Strategy for our Veterans UK Government Consultation

In November 2018, the Strategy for our Veterans was published

by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, recognising that

Veterans are supported by public services and are integrated into

communities across the UK.

This unprecedented cooperation and collaboration across

Governments demonstrates the enduring importance and value of our

Veterans to our nation. It addresses the immediate needs of older

Veterans as well as setting the right conditions for society to

empower and support the newer generation. The Strategy can be

found here:

Alongside this, the UK Government published a Consultation Paper,

seeking views on how the Strategy’s 2028 Outcomes could be

implemented, against the background of what provision already

exists. This consultation is UK-wide, although Scotland and Wales

will separately consult on devolved matters. We encourage all those

interested in Veterans’ issues to participate in the consultation, which

is open until 1145pm on 21st February 2019.

The Consultation Paper found here:

Flag purchase Information

available in the Shop.

| 36

Veterans Breakfast Clubs

Scottish Veteran Minister and North Ayrshire Provost

By Suzanne Fernando

Ayrshire Veterans Breakfast Club enjoyed a welcomed visit

from the Scottish Veteran Minister Graeme Dey MSP and

North Ayrshire Provost Ian Clarkson as part of the Scottish

Government Veterans consultation led by the Defence Medical

Welfare Service team. This is important work raising awareness

of the Unforgotten Forces programme. Later they made

a visit to the consortium at Poppy Scotland's Head office in


Local Veteran Suzanne Fernando said: "I'd like to say a big

thanks to the lovely Emma Gracian, Welfare Officer at DMWS

for arranging the visit. We had a great turn out and everyone

had a lovely morning filled with tea, cakes and banter!

It was lovely to see the minister again but more importantly it

gave us all an opportunity to discuss our experiences past

and present, and the impact it has had on our lives. Being

able to speak to Mr Dey directly about what support is being

provided Scotland-wide to assist the significant number of exservice

personnel, was a wonderful opportunity."

The Defence Medical Welfare Service is a key member of the

project, often reaching those in need at the immediate point

of crisis within NHS medical centres and hospital wards.

DMWS Welfare Officers deliver a bespoke medical welfare service

to veterans aged 65 and over, their families and carers in

Scotland. This unique service also includes work in the community,

where the Ayrshire Veterans Breakfast Club is a regular

place to provide direct support and referrals to other agencies.

Mr Dey said: “Scotland has a long and very proud military tradition.

Our Armed Forces and Veterans Community are assets

to our society and I want to ensure that their service is properly

acknowledged and that they are well supported and looked

after. I am pleased to have been able to join in the Veterans

Breakfast and visit Poppyscotland’s Welfare Centre with the

Defence Medical Welfare Service to learn more about the

excellent work they do to support our veterans community."

Unforgotten Forces is a partnership between 15 leading

organisations which will deliver a range of new services and

enhancements in areas including advice, access to healthcare,

social isolation, respite, along with creative activities and

events for those in care settings.

Find your nearest veteran breakfast club here: 37 |

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| 38

Squaddie Humour

Squaddie Humour

A brand new section celebrating the warped

sense of humour of our British Armed Forces

My pugilistic career

I would like to tell you of an incident that concluded my

pugilistic career. I had a little run in with a snotty nosed

Shotley ex-boy whilst serving on submarine Tradewind in

Portland in '53. I of course after tot time challenged him to

enter the heavyweight tournament in Weymouth for 10 quid

for the winner, so we saw the Clubswinger who entered our


me and I did not remember anything until next morning when

I woke up in my 'mick' with a big silver cup.

I asked my second what had happened and he told me that

in the 3rd round we went into a clinch and I whispered I'm f----

-, but everyone heard and had a good laugh. So ended my

pugilistic career which started in 1939 with a win. Incidentally I

did get my 10 quid and the git went on to become one of the

youngest Coxswains in the submarine service, thank

goodness I never ran into him again.

I started training by punching the heavy bag outside the

clubswingers office on the Maidstone for five minutes and

decided I was fit. I arrived in Weymouth the night of the

boxing show and found out that the git had withdrawn his


Getting to the final my second, a 3 badge AB gunlayer

wearing a chewing gum grey submarine sweater decorated

with grease and oil stains decided we should have a couple

of pints of beer and a pint of milk. I do not know what the

significance of the milk was, anyway in the first round I jabbed

and ran, but at the end of the first round my arms felt like ton

weights and after I had all the training lifting pints at the Jolly

Sailor in Portland. So I had to try and knock him out as I did

not think I could last the distance. So out we went, I set him

up with a couple of jabs and hit him with a hook come

uppercut. I stepped back to watch him fall but instead he hit

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After 40 Years Service

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The Veterans’ Magazine Issue 52 | February 2019 39 |

Mrs Fox Goes

To War...

The Chronicles of Little Hope

1939 - 1945

The Wartime Diary of Mrs Lavinia Fox


Discovered in two old steamer trunks at Fox Hall

when it was being cleared for demolition in 2016

and painstakingly deciphered by myself, with the

help of a far larger quantity of gin than Mrs Fox clearly

quaffed writing the blasted thing, frankly... - Julie


Monday 31st July, 1939

Woke at six o'clock this morning to the most frightful

hammering on the front door - a terrible, terrible noise

like the crack of doom or a rather lively morning at

Verdun. Mr Hirst, the one-legged undertaker with a chip

the size of Belgium on his shoulder couldn't have made

more of a hullabaloo if he'd been going at it hammer

and tongs with a big bass drum on loan from the Band

of the Grenadier Guards, frankly. The man has an enormous

stick which he waves around in front of his funeral

car like a feral drum major at every possible opportunity

and my first thought on waking was that it was he,

sent by the Grim Reaper himself perhaps, to enquire

whether we’d had any takers overnight. The Sheffield

infirmary has done rather well on the back of Mr Hirst

and his cane, two people I know personally having narrowly

avoided blindness and severe concussion respectively

during the course of the last six months.

My next thought was that it'd all gone slightly tits up

and war had been declared overnight after all, we've

been expecting it now for the best part of a year since

Chamberlain ("nice enough fellow, apart from his rubber

spine," according to Basil who has met him in London

on several occasions) decided to give Hitler the benefit

of the doubt at Munich. Basil, who is not wont to utter

expletives willy-nilly, commented at the time that he

personally "wouldn't give Herr Hitler the steam off of

my shit!", which quite took me by surprise as I'd only

just poured the tea and hadn't quite finished buttering

his second round of scones.

"Really, Basil!" I remonstrated, giving him The Look of

Disapproval, "Must you?"

Basil, assuming that I was referring to the already oncecleared

contents of his tea plate and the line of crumbs

he’d marshalled with his napkin, looked a little downcast

and replied "Perhaps just the one then, old dear," in a

somewhat subdued manner, as though I’d just confiscated

his gas mask and sent him out into a glowing

| 40


green smog. Sometimes, he really is a difficult fellow to

fathom, but then aren’t most men?

Anyway, back to this morning. I rose rather quickly and

stuck my head out of the bedroom window(conscious

that I was still wearing my hairnet and ‘Wendy’ hair

grips) at once, in order to ascertain what the devil was

happening, and lo and behold there was young John

Thomas, Hilda Ffinch's terribly thin driver - the one with

the slight scoliosis - listing to port on the terrace and

shouting up to me that crank as he might he just couldn't

get the old girl started. I raised an eyebrow and gave

him a quizzical look, wondering what the devil had been

going on in Colonel Ffinch's absence. Turned out he

meant that Ms Ffinch's Rolls Royce absolutely wouldn't

spark at all and she had a wedding in Sussex to get to

by noon and could she possibly beg to borrow Basil's

big Rover? I replied that both Basil and the Rover were

absent on account of the former being called up to

London on Monday evening, but that I was fairly certain

that the Vicar would be more than happy to get his Riley

Nine Gamecock out for Ms Ffinch if approached nicely.

As John Thomas loped off towards the gates intent on

harassing the vicar next, I called out "Who's wedding is

it, anyway?"

"Duke of Norfolk's sister," he shouted back, startling a

brute of a cock pheasant on the lawn, "Groom's only got

one eye, Missis!"

“Is that relevant?”

“It might be, if he has to take a pot-shot at jerry any

time soon!”


Lunch with Basil's sister, June, visiting from London.

She's worried that if war comes Uncle Claude’s butler

will have to go. A confirmed spinster at 30, I had no idea

that she was even acquainted with Dick. One lives and


“Well he’s under forty and jolly fit,” I mused, swirling

with a spoon whatever it was that Cook had produced in

an attempt to identify it, “I’ve seen him pull a tallboy

across the kitchen before now.”

“Single handed?” June looked a tad startled.

“Oh yes.”


“Indeed.” Do you know what this is?” I poked my spoon

into my bowl and frowned.


“Maybe...chicken or beef?”

“I thought salmon.” June leaned forward and sniffed at

her serving suspiciously.

“Did we ought to send it to the scout camp in Bell End

Woods and settle for a stiff gin, instead?” I asked.

“Yes, I think we ought.”


Gin, and a Craven A for me, gin and a pipe full of interesting

shag with a hint of the orient for June.

More gin.

One for the road.

Afternoon nap which went on for quite some time.

Wrote a thoroughly bogus letter to Hilda Ffinch at the

Little Hope Herald asking for a recipe for whale meat


Dinner (indeterminable). Gin. Craven A. A quick mince

round the terrace. Bed...

You can follow the further adventures of Mrs Fox, Hilda Ffinch and the Villagers of Little Hope at and on Twitter at 41 |

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