The Sandbag Times Issue No:58


The Veterans Magazine




One Giant Step 50 Years On...

As The World Remembers The Apollo 11

Mission, The UK Takes It’s Own New

Steps In The Space Industry

SBT News Latest

Plus All The Latest Armed

Forces & Veterans News

Proud Sponsors of

The Veterans Awards Issue 58 | August 2019







Forces Recruitment Solutions

Tel: +44 (0)1353 645004


August 2019



One small step

for man, one

giant leap for


BTCC is back


In The News


British Troops to

be Deployed to



Johnny Mercer


Minister of




The Armed Forces Covenant

The AFC & You

Signing the Covenant in your

community could make a huge

difference. Read how...



New Charity

Stepway tells all of

their new venture.


One Giant Leap...

50 years on from

Apollo 11 we

look at the UK in


| 04

A Word from the Editor


Howdy Peeps...

So where are we this month in SBT land?

Firstly, a huge welcome to Dawn Turner and

Bob Kundi to the team in two very vital roles.

Dawn has been well known to the team for

a fair while and has just finished a degree in

Criminology. (Far too much brains for our

ragbag team I think!!). She is now watching

closely over my shoulder as I write Issue

58 with a highly keen eye ready to jump in

the deep end and write Issue 59 for us as an

induction as Assistant Editor. Talk about a

Baptism of Fire! Pablo can be cruel when

he needs to be (hehe). Bob, on the other

hand, is far too big to be bullied but he is a

cracking Marketing and Sales guru who will

be shouting and screaming at me to tell me

what I should or shouldn’t be showing in the

mag. Advertisers, beware.

In short, these two (who are a couple, by

the way) are just the first step in the new

change coming to the magazine. All seriously

though, I am deeply grateful to have these

two wonderful people on board to take the

weight off my shoulders a little. The success

and popularity of the SBT has become too big

for just one person to handle. Our friends

from FRS will also be jumping in soon to

lessen the burden a

little more in the not too

far distant future. We still

need a chat or two to decide where and when

that will happen but again, it will be a very

positive addition to a great team.

So what else is happening in our world?

Airshow season is over for us for this year.

Thank you to everybody at the Royal Navy

International Air Day at RNAS Yeovilton

and Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF

Fairford, two wonderful days enjoyed by

our crews. Dawn will be telling all in the

September edition so I won’t go on too much

about that.

A great bit of news, the funding for the

Tommy Atkins Centre has now been granted

and is sat waiting for the new building to

be finalised and open. We also have TAC2

opening soon in the Black Country thanks

to Paul Lewis at FRS. Unfortunately, due to

new commitments, once the new centre in

Worcester is opened, I will be handing over

all TAC operations to my partner and TAC

Chairperson, Jane. It’s in good hands and I’m

confident it will go from strength to strength

in the future. That’s it for me for this month,

enjoy the sunshine all, take care. Pabsx

Editor: Pablo Snow

Asst Editor: Dawn Turner


Matt Neal &

Team Dynamics Motorsport

Honourary Patron:

Jacqueline Hurley

Additional Journalists:

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas

Jane Shields

Andrew Hall

Julie Warrington

Suzanne Fernando

Nel Brooks

Marketing & Sales Manager:

Bob Kundi

News Media Researcher

Jim Wilde

SBT Radio

AJ Vorster



SBT Issue 58


06 British Troops to

be deployed to Mali

07 Johnny Mercer

appointed new Veterans


07 MOD Announces

pay rise for the Armed


08 RAF Test Pilot to

join Virgin Orbit Crew

09 South Korea fires

warning shots at Russian



12 The Covenant

You and the Covenant as the

SBT launches new initiative.

13 Stepway

A brand new charity to

assist with resettlement.

20 One Giant Leap

We look at the UK in Space

50 years on from the Lunar


24 Off The Grid

We’re back with our Patron

as BTCC heads to



10 SBT Radio

AJ ‘Vossie’ Vorster brings us

the latest from the airwaves.

18 TAC

The very latest news from

our very own Veteran Centre

by Jane Shields.

27 Historical TA

This month, we take a

look at the Shortest War in



The latest from around the

Armed Forces and Veterans

Breakfast Clubs.

36 Mrs Fox

Mrs Fox brings us the gossip

in war-time Little Hope.


05 |



British Troops to Join Force

Countering Mali Militants

Story: The Guardian - Jason Burke Africa correspondent

Image: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

British troops will be deployed in

Mali next year to join in the world’s

deadliest peacekeeping operation,

the Ministry of Defence has announced.

The 250-strong force will provide a longrange

reconnaissance capability for the

United Nations deployment in the troubled

African country which has struggled

to decisively counter Islamic militants,

armed separatists and traffickers.

The deployment is likely to place British

troops in combat situations, facing risks of

ambushes and roadside bombs in remote

and hostile environments.

The UN is operating alongside a Frenchled

force that has been fighting Islamic

militants in Mali for six years. The mission

is known as one of the most dangerous undertaken

by the organisation anywhere in

the world. More than 170 people deployed

by the UN have been killed there between

2013 and February.

Penny Mordaunt, the defence minister,

said it was right that “in one of the world’s

poorest and most fragile regions we

support some of world’s most vulnerable

people … UK service personnel will work

with our partners in the region to help

promote peace by combating the threat of

violent extremism and protecting human

rights in Mali”.

Mali, which occupies a key location in the

centre of the restive Sahel, was plunged

into chaos in 2012 when Tuareg separatists

and Islamic extremists joined forces

to take control of much of the north of

the country. French forces intervened the

following year to halt their advance and

4,000 French troops remain there.

The UN security council later deployed

peacekeepers, which have been targets of

a fierce insurgent campaign. A 2015 peace

deal signed by Mali’s government and

separatist groups failed to end the violence

and instability has since spread across the


More than 200,000 people have been

displaced in Mali since the start of 2019

and about 600 killed in a series of militia

attacks. Islamic extremists have staged assaults

on high-profile targets in the capital,

Bamako, and in neighbouring Burkina

Faso and Ivory Coast. There is also violence

in neighbouring Niger, where four

US servicemen were killed in an ambush

by Islamic militants in 2017.

Read the Full Story here...

| 06


Johnny Mercer MP appointed Minister of Veterans

Story: Plymouth Live

Plymouth Moor View MP

Johnny Mercer has been appointed

Minister for Veterans

of the Royal Navy, Army and

RAF - and will head-up a new

Government department dedicated

to the issues they face.

The new Office of Veterans’

Affairs will sit inside the Cabinet

Office and will be jointly

run by Mr Mercer - who is

now a Parliamentary Under-Secretary

of State in both

Image: Greg Martin

the MOD and the Cabinet

Office - and the Cabinet-attending

paymaster general

Oliver Dowden.

Mr Mercer, a former captain

in the British Army, will be

asked to focus on ending the

legal pursuit of former service

personnel, amid anger in the

Conservative party over the

treatment of those who served

during Northern Ireland’s


MOD Announces Pay Rise For The Armed Forces


The Defence Secretary has announced

an above-inflation, 2.9% pay rise for the

Armed Forces.

It will be implemented in September’s

salaries and backdated to 1 April 2019.

The lowest-paid soldiers, sailors and

airmen and women will receive a 6%

increase to bring them in line with the

living wage.

This increase means that after basic

training, new and junior personnel will

receive an annual salary of £20,000 a year.

For the ‘average’ salary of personnel (at

Corporal level), the pay rise represents an

annual increase of £995.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

No soldier, sailor, airman or woman

should be asked to serve our country and

not be properly rewarded, which is why

I’m pleased we have accepted the pay

review body’s recommendation for an

above-inflation rise this year.

More here...

The starting salary for an officer will see

an annual increase of £769.

Army rejects call for mental health checks

Story: BBC News: By Andrew Hosken

The British Army has

rejected calls for mandatory

mental health

screening for serving

soldiers, the BBC has


Regular screening was

recommended by a coroner

following an inquest

into the deaths of two infantrymen

found hanged

in the same Northern

Ireland barracks. But

in a leaked letter, Gen

Sir Nick Carter, head of

the armed forces, said

screening was “potentially


Human rights charity

Liberty, which represents

the mothers of the

soldiers, said it was concerned

by the decision.

An inquest this year

found that Corporal

James Ross, 30, died

an accidental death in

December 2012, while

the coroner recorded

a verdict of suicide on

the death of Rifleman

Darren Mitchell, 20 - less

than three months later -

in February 2013.

Both men were serving

with the 2nd Battalion

The Rifles and had

previously been in active

service in Afghanistan.

Read more here...

07 |

RAF test pilot to fly with Virgin Orbit crew

Story: Flight Global

A UK Royal Air Force

(RAF) test pilot will be

seconded to support

Virgin Orbit’s small

satellite launch activities,

with a successful

candidate to fly on board

its modified Boeing

747-400 platform, named

“Cosmic Girl”.

A total of 17 candidates

applied for the

opportunity and a

shortlist of four – two

each from the fast jet and

multi-engined aircraft

areas – has been drawn

up. One of these will

join the Virgin Orbit

flight-test team, Air

Commodore Richard

Davies, commandant of

the RAF’s Air Warfare

By: Craig Hoyle

centre, confirmed at the

Royal International Air


Placing a test pilot

within the Virgin Orbit

organisation forms part

of a broader satellite

initiative announced

by the UK Ministry of

Defence (MoD) on 18


Under this, a Team

Artemis organisation

will use a £30 million

($37.5 million) funding

allocation to “fast-track

the launch of a small

satellite demonstrator”,

the MoD says. Parties

involved include Airbus,

Raytheon, Surrey Satellite

Technology, Virgin

Orbit, the RAF’s Rapid

Capabilities Office and

the US government.

The demonstrator

will be designed to

understand the military

utility of small satellites

and provide information

to combat aircraft more

quickly,” the MoD

says. Launch by Virgin

Orbit is expected to be

conducted after taking off

from Cornwall Airport


Read more here...

Tim Peake Joins Red Arrows As They

Prepare To Take On North America

Story : Forces,net

Image: MOD

British astronaut Tim Peake

joined the Red Arrows for

a rehearsal flight before

their display at the Royal International

Air Tattoo (RIAT) this


It is the RAF’s Aerobatic Teams

last display in the UK this year

before setting off next month for

their biggest-ever tour of North


Mr Peake sat in the rear seat of

Red 1’s aircraft for the 20-minute


He experienced the team’s hallmark

combination of close-formations,

precision passes

and dynamic loops and rolls


One of the manoeuvres practised

- which features in the Red

Arrows’ 2019 show - is Apollo,

arranged in a shape that marks

Saturday’s 50th anniversary of

the Moon landing.

After the flight, Mr Peake said:

“What a huge honour and

privilege to join the Red Arrows

today – a fantastic flight

Read the full story...

| 08


News Around The Globe

South Korea fires warning shots at Russian aircraft

Story: UK Defence Journal

South Korea fired warning

shots at a Russian A-50 after

claiming the aircraft entered

its air defence identification

zone, say the South Korean

Ministry of Defence.

The Russian jet breached the

South Korean air defence

identification zone twice say

the country, prompting its air

force to launch jets and fire

warning shots according to

By George Allison

local media.

The incursion came during

what South Koreans officials

claim was a joint Russian-Chinese

military exercise. Two

Chinese H-6 bombers had

passed into Seoul’s air identification

zone just hours before,

joined by another two Russian

military planes.

Read more here...

Indian Army’s flood rescue operations team saves 150 in Nalabari

Story: The Statesman

Incessant heavy downpour in

the Nalbari district of Assam

resulted in the breach of

embankments of ‘Pagladiya’ river.

Immediately, a highly trained and

well-equipped Flood relief column

of the Indian Army was mobilized

and arrived at the Balitara Village in

Nalbari District to undertake a massive

humanitarian aid and disaster

relief operation.

“Operating under heavy downpour,

dangerous currents and alarming

water levels in addition to the

pitch-dark night, Indian Army

toiled hard and ensured to rescue

150 stranded civilians, including 60

women and children, and brought

them to safe zone. The locals and

civil administration were forthcoming

in expressing their heartfelt

and overwhelming gratitude to

the Army in light of their Service

Before Self Motto as the dedicated

efforts resulted in averting disaster

and resulted in normalization of the

situation,” said, Lt Col Harsh Wardhan

Pande, PRO (Defence), Tezpur

while commenting on the situation.

More here...

North Korea launches 2 short range missiles

Story: Politico:

North Korea fired two

short-range missiles into

the sea Thursday in its

first weapons launches

in more than two

months and an apparent

effort to pressure

Washington as the two

sides struggle to restart

nuclear negotiations.

The South’s Joint Chiefs

of Staff said the missiles

were fired from near the

eastern coastal town of

Wonsan and flew about

430 kilometers (270

miles) and 690 kilometers

(430 miles) respectively

before landing off

the country’s east coast.

South Korea’s military

earlier said both missiles

flew 430 kilometers but

the trajectory for one

was revised based on a

joint South Korean-U.S.

analysis. South Korean

officials said the missiles

were both short-range.

A South Korean defense

official, requesting

Image: Jon Chol Jin/AP Photo

anonymity because of

department rules, said

that an initial analysis

showed both missiles

were fired from mobile

launchers and flew at a

maximum altitude of 50

kilometers (30 miles).

He said South Korea’s

military believes a

second missile that flew

690 kilometers is a new

type of missile but more

analysis is necessary.

Read more here...

09 |


By AJ ‘Vossie’ Vorster

We Need You!

Internet radio? Why? Why bother?

Well, the way I see it, it serves a number of niche

functions – especially useful when veterans get a hold of the


· Reaching out directly to specific groups or clubs

· Spreading camaraderie among veterans

· Reaching out to lonely folk who just need to hear a

familiar voice

· Promoting upcoming events and gatherings

· Stirring memories… and stimulating interaction

· Playing good music – mostly ad free – with only veterans

and their families in mind

· Discuss the joys of EU membership… NOT!

We cannot do it all alone – we need YOU… yes, visualise

the picture of the Lord Kitchener poster… WE NEED YOU!

(Now… I know he isn’t quite as popular as he would’ve believed

he was… but I’m only after that image…)

And, you may ask… just why we need you? Simple… without

you listening and maybe even interacting on the chat line,

we’re only speaking to the wind. OK… there’s nothing wrong

with that either… but I’m sure you’ll understand that it’s the

camaraderie we’re also after.

So… I’ve put my case for internet radio… now I’m throwing

it over to you. We need participation but we also need DJ’s –

likeminded folk who believe the adage…

For veterans… by veterans!

We understand each other, that’s why we need to talk with

each other! Contact us at or tap on

the contact page just below the banner and drop us a line!

We’re looking forward to your interaction, so… get cracking,


PS – If you’re wondering how I fit in – I served in the South

African Air Force for 16 years – saw active service in Namibia

and Angola but the best for me was the flying – as helicopter

flight engineer – along the stunning South African coast.

| 10

All Call Signs

Around 6 months ago, former Paratrooper and Falklands

Veteran, Tony Ferguson, facing an all too familiar scenario of

suffering from PTSD and homelessness, approached us with an

idea to release a charity single promoting awareness of these issues and

the growing rate of suicides within our veteran community. Money

raised would be distributed between smaller charities who provided,

direct, immediate and critical support for veterans facing homelessness,

mental health, PTSD and addiction problems.

Initially the group was to be called Veterans Aid based on the “Band

Aid” concept. “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” would send a poignant

message. We subsequently discovered that we could not use the

Veterans Aid name as it was already a registered charity in England.

The Charity Veterans Aid have been very supportive throughout with

help and advice.

Recently we approached the charity “All Call Signs” who provide a peer

to peer service for veterans and who successful launched the “Beacon

Alert” system via social media immediately alerting as many people as

possible about missing vulnerable veterans and encouraging people to

help search. The name “All Call Signs” encompassed exactly what we

wanted to achieve - all services, every man woman and child coming

together to prevent further tragedy. All Call Signs were delighted

for us to name our band “All Call Signs” and to become one of the

beneficiary charities. Project Director’s Antony Stephen Malone and

Donna Armstrong asked Nicki Mortimer and her company “All Call

Signs Production LTD” to coordinate PR, Press enquires, finances and

project administration ensuring that funds generated get distributed

equally to the 12 selected charities involved, minus an administration

fee and relevant expenses.

The 12 charities are:

• Homeless Veterans Project SC049441

• Lee Rigby Foundation

• Forgotten Veterans UK

• Woody’s Lodge

• Help for Homeless Veterans

• Outpost Charity

• Phoenix Heroes

• Pilgrim Bandits

• All Call Signs

• 353 Charity

• Pegasus Appreciation Group

• Veterans Aid.

In July 2019, Veterans and their children were joined by international

singer and Forces Sweetheart Kirsten Orsborn in a recording studio.

Kirsten has continuously supported the Forces and Veterans charities

for 11 years. Kirsten was adopted by The Royal Marines Association as

their sweetheart in 2014 and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in

2018. Kirsten is very proud to be the patron to Minds at War and The

Homeless Veterans Project.

Charlotte Bailey, owner of the recording studio, Blue Fire Productions,

said, “I did not have to think twice about helping out such a fantastic

cause. It was great to see so much passion, as well as impressive talent,

all in one room. If this single makes a difference to just one veteran,

then it is all worth it.”Charlotte advised on the project and was instrumental

to the production and promotion.

James Beaumont and Max Russell sound engineers helped structure

the recording. SAS Legend Rusty Firmin, Patron of the Charity record,

Donna, Anthony, Kirsten and other Veterans sang the song with

children and supporters of soldier skilled in action while serving their

country... Veterans Helping Veterans, Actions Not Words...

11 |


Article: Pablo Snow

Featured Image: Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant is not just a pledge by the Government

to support serving servicemen and women, veterans and their

families, indeed it is a commitment that we should all be getting

involved with. The SBT, along with Team Dynamics Motorsport,

Stepway and the Tommy Atkins Veterans Centre are heading up an

initiative to recognise those in the community that go above and

beyond to support our local heroes.

Working in the West Midlands

over the past few years has really

opened my eyes to the Armed

Forces Covenant and the Community

Covenant. But even for me, somebody who

has dedicated his life to serving veterans,

it has taken a lot of time and an awful lot

of understanding to realise just what it is

and how it can serve the Armed Forces and

Veterans community.

I’ll say from the very outset, the Covenant

has had a bit of a bashing from me over the

past few years, admittedly from a lack of

understanding at times but I think even the

MoD will admit it’s far from perfect.

Having said all that, it is what we have and

over the past few months I have written my

thoughts on how to get the best out of it to

work with your own community. I have

to say that it is working here in the West


When the Covenant was rolled out, the

whole of the UK was encouraged to sign

up and show support. Happily, thousands

upon thousands did. The result was local

authorities, businesses, charities and members

of the public started to take more interest in

the welfare of our Forces past and present.

More and more initiatives were born locally

and the Government finally had to take


Some 10 years on, so much more can still

be done. There are many who purely wear

the badge and do nothing but flip the coin

and you certainly will see the reverse.

Many organisations have not signed the

covenant but engage hugely with the

Forces Community. Certainly, over here

in Worcester, I can say our BTCC team is a

shining example of that.

You will have seen the immense coverage I

try to give Matt Neal and Team Dynamics

Motorsport. This is because of the

unrelenting support they give to us. No

strings attached, just support.

“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.”

Matt Neal

Halfords Yuasa Racing driver and

Team Dynamics Director

Despite their incredibly busy schedule,

bearing in mind that this is the top team in

the top motorsport event in the UK with two

of the best drivers, they still always have time

to support our Armed Forces Community

and in particular, the veterans in the local

area. Surely, that is the kind of support that

we should be seeing from signatories of the


One thing that has become apparent to us,

is that the companies that do sign and get

involved are very seldom recognised for their

efforts. Yes, I know, recognition is not the top

priority in any charitable matter. But it is nice

to have some one pat you on the back and say

‘Well done’ every now and then.

That is all about to change. The SBT, The

Tommy Atkins Centre, Stepway and Team

Dynamics Motorsport are headlining a new

initiative to recognise those who go above and

beyond to support the AFC community.

Each month, we will feature an organisation

and how they have contributed. At the end of

the year, we will announce our overall annual

Covenant Champion and present an award in

recognition of their efforts at an event still to

be confirmed.

We, at the SBT network are determined to

support the Armed Forces Covenant, not only

locally but also nationally and encourage its

members to get involved in supporting those

who have given so much.

Detail on how you can get involved and sign

the Armed Forces Covenant can be found



If you would like to let us know how your

own organisation or an organisation you

know, has contributed to the Armed Forces

Covenant then why not get in touch with us

here at the Sandbag Times by emailing us at:

| 12



A brand new charity to guide

and support Veterans to adapt

back into civilian life

How Can We Help You?

STEPWAY is here to help with adaption

problems that you may be struggling with

This may be due to leaving prison and you cannot access the

services/ therapies that can help you adapt back into civvie life.

We are here to bridge that gap, so you can lead a crime free


Have you found yourself in police custody and nobody

understands? We are here to provide help and support with

supplying intervention programs, advice, signposting and

introducing you to a mentor.

Are you leaving the armed forces and have not received a

resettlement package to help you gain employment, education

or housing? Are you concerned about your future? We are here

to guide you to access the services that can help.

Are you an early service leaver (served for 4 years or less) and

you feel that signposting is not enough to enable you to adapt

back into civvie life? We are here to bridge that gap.

Are you a homeless veteran that feels there is no other choice but

to commit a crime to survive on the streets? Have you dropped

out of society because you feel socially excluded from civvie life?

We are here to make that transition less problematic.

The 7 Step Programme

Our 7-Step Program will give you the opportunity to travel down a different

path. This program will empower you to make a voluntary change. We

endevour to improve your mental wellbeing by enabling you to see a brighter


1st Step

The first step is to contact STEPWAY by calling either Dawn or Bob on the

number provided and we will arrange to meet you within 24hrs. We will

have an informal chat after a brew. This will give you the opportunity to

tell us a bit about yourself and the problems you have encountered. At

the end of the meeting we will offer the level of support you may need.

through similar experiences, so you will not feel alone or excluded. Individual

programs are also available for those who find social situations stressful.

There will be a small introduction to the charity and a brief about the different

interventions and courses that are available.

3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Step

These steps will be spread over a 12 month period. It includes intervention

programs for substance misuse, stress related conditions, adaption and how

to create a positive future for yourself. These programs are all voluntary and

free for veterans.

What do we provide

• We provide programs that will help you with adaption.

• Group and Individual programs are available.

• We can refer you to other charities who can help you financially.

• We are a free service for you, the veteran.

• You can self refer, so there is no waiting list for the initial support.

• We help every veteran that is struggling with adaption.

• We will be here to support and guide you for as long as you need us.

• We will provide you with an alternative path to avoid the pathway

to crime.

• We provide you with the tools to improve your mental and physical


For more information:

Email: or

Or call: 07539 754 457



c/o The Trinity

16, Queen Street



2nd Step

The introduction program will be attended by veterans who are going

13 |

We are very pleased to announce that FM Conway have achieved our Gold TIER Support Recognition award for their

outstanding effort during the fundraising week for the build up to Armed Forces Day.

We had a great time at their Head Office and was delighted to be presented with a cheque for £3,000. During our time at FM

Conway we discussed other ways of working together. As a veteran friendly organisation with a very strong family ethos we

highly recommend them to all service leavers, veterans and their families.

THANK YOU from all at Phoenix Heroes

| 14



A rare chance to see this iconic 9-strong folk-rock

collective featuring John Tams, John Kirkpatrick,

Graeme Taylor, Andy Findon and the pick of the UK’s

finest concert and session musicians.

The brass section play like the Devil’s own pit band,

Graeme Taylor’s guitar can strip paint.”R2 *****

“Blistering… truculent folk-rock”

The Financial Times *****

Book online: or 01543 262223

FRIDAY 18th, OCTOBER 2019 - 7.30pm


15 |





RFEA – the Forces Employment Charity - has

received two generous grants from ABF The

Soldiers’ Charity, totalling almost £400,000.

The funding will enable RFEA to continue its

hugely successful work to provide employment

advice, guidance and mentoring to veterans

through its Ex Forces and Bridging the Gap


‘Ma’s Collar Dogs’

By Julie Warrington

The Ex Forces programmeis the only one

of its kind which provides regionally based,

comprehensive career advice and job opportunities

to all ex-military personnel, irrespective

of circumstances, rank, length of service, or

reason for leaving.

Bridging the Gap provides specialist vocational

support to exForces who face problems in their

lives that make it harder to get and keep a job

and who are no longer eligible for CTP resettlement


Commenting on the grants, Alistair Halliday,

RFEA’s chief executive, said: “We are hugely

appreciative of these substantial grants from

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. We couldn’t help

those we do without the wonderful assistance

and support we receive from our key funders.

Thanks to the generosity of The Soldiers’

Charity we will be able to continue delivering

life-changing support to many soldiers and

veterans who need our help.”

Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff,

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity adds: “Offering our

veterans advice and support to get back into

employment after their time in the Army is

crucial to their wellbeing and to securing their

future. RFEA has provided their vital services

for many years and they thoroughly deserve the

grant we have awarded, which will help them

care for our veterans for the long-haul.”

Last year RFEA supported almost 20,000 ex

Forces personnel and created over 90,000 job


was a nurse in the WAAF too, but she was killed during the war.

You see, you look so much like her...”

Ma said that the old man looked desperately sad, but then he

reached into his pocket and took out these collar dogs and

pressed them into her hand. “These were hers,” he said, “But l

want you to have them.”

Ma said that she couldn’t take them but the old man was most

insistent, saying that his daughter would want them to be worn

by another nurse, it would have made her proud, and so Ma–

close to tears - thanked him and promised faithfully that she

would always look after them.

For a little over fifty years Ma kept those ‘collar dogs’ safe and

sound, she retired from the WRAF when she married my Dad

– who was also a medic – and she would let him borrow them

to wear on his ‘best blue and mess kit’ but they’d always go back

into her jewellery box afterwards.

My late Mother(Ma to us kids!) was a WRAF nurse and

these are her ‘collar dogs’ which came to me with the

rest of her ‘treasures’ when she died. Turns out that

they weren’t any ordinary collar dogs but ones with an interesting

– and rather poignant - story behind them.

We never did know the name of the wartime nurse whose Dad

gave his girl’s collar dogs to my Ma on that station platform

many years ago, but we -as a family – have never forgotten her,

and I like to think that we never will. It is in the preservation of

such stories as this that the memory of our unsung heroes and

heroines survive, and I hope that in sharing this with The Sandbag

Times, that others may think of ‘our nurse’ and those who

served with her during our country’s ‘Darkest hour’ too.

Lest We Forget.

One day in the summer of 1951, when travelling home in

uniform, she was standing on a platform and waiting for a

train back to her home city of Nottingham when she noticed

an old man standing close by and staring at her. Madidn’t take

much notice at first but the old fellow kept looking and she was

starting to feel a bit uneasy when he came over to speak to her.

I remember her exact words when she told me what happened

next: “I’m sorry to keep staring at you,” the old man said, “But l

see that you’re a WAAF nurse...”

Ma nodded and smiled at him and he went on “My daughter

| 16

Evaluation of the

Veterans’ Gateway

Are you a Military Veteran / Service Leaver?


Are you the partner of a Military Veteran / Service


Please complete our survey which aims to collect information on your

experience of the Veterans’ Gateway and the study is funded by The

Royal British Legion.

The study is being carried out by researchers from the Psychology

Research Institute at Ulster University.

If you would like to help us, you can access the survey using the

link below:

Alternatively, you can request a paper copy of the survey by

getting in touch with the Research Team.

Telephone: +44 28 7012 4877

Email: Dr Julie Doherty

17 |

August 2019

Hi again from a sunny Worcester.

We are getting very excited here as we know we will be moving

into our new building any time now. A big thank you to

Worcester City Council for their support, which has secured

our centre for the next 12 months. We are now just waiting for

the keys to be handed to us then it will be full steam ahead.

We have had a struggle over the past month or so but we have

still managed to operate using local facilities and with the

creative minds of the team. Big thank you to our wonderful

psychotherapist, Lisa who has battled on regardless and helped

an awful lot of veterans suffering with mental health issues.

Anyhow, we are still operational and available to assist any

local veteran in need of our help, and have been doing just that

for the past few weeks. Happily one of our veterans has been

housed recently, and he seems to be going from strength to

strength, which is lovely to see. I really think we’re all going to

breathe a sigh of relief when we finally get into our new centre.

Another bit of great news, Paul Lewis, TAC Trustee and FRS

Regional Director is just about set up to open TAC 2 in the

Black Country. This is going to be a major leap forward for

the Tommy Atkins Centre extending our reach throughout the

West Midlands with the talk of another two centres on the

horizon. From small acorns...

Finally, it is with a heavy heart that we announce that our

founder, Pablo is hanging up his TAC duties. Pabs is moving

on to a few other projects including the expansion of our

magazine. He has felt that he has been wearing far too many

hats and wanted to give himself a bit of breathing space. His

decision to hand over the TAC to me and the rest of the gang

was not easy but he is happy it is now in very capable hands to

continue the good work. He will, of course still bat our corner

when it comes to the official council and AFC duties but he will

not be part of the shop front team. All of us wish him the very

best for the future.

Not much more really I can say for the moment, except to ask

you all to look out for that veteran friend of yours who’s been

awol for a few days. Give them a call and make sure they are


That’s it from me, take care.

Jane x

TAC 2? Hmmm...

The Tommy Atkins

Veterans Centre

12 The Tything



Mental Health Support

Housing Support

Benefit Advice

Employment Advice

Education Advice

Covenant Support

| 18

Tommy Atkins Centre


Armed Forces Covenant

Benefactor of the Year

_________ _________

Have you signed the

Armed Forces Covenant?

Do you get involved with your Armed

Forces and Veterans Community?

Then we want to hear from you!


The Sandbag Times Veterans Magazine, in

association with Team Dynamics Motorsport,

are looking for individuals, charities and

businesses who go above and beyond in

support of the Armed Forces Community.

If this is you then contact us by email on


of the



Could This Be You?

19 |

One Giant Leap... 50 Years On

As the world remembers that ‘First Step’ the UK extends it’s reach to the stars with it’s own project as recently

revealed by the former Defence Minister. The Sandbag Times reflects on history and looks to the future.

Article: Pablo Snow, SBT Image Credit: (1) BBC (2) Flight Global (3) Space Flight 101

One Small Step...

In 1969, History was made when Neil Armstrong became the

first man to step foot on the moon. Those immortal words

were uttered which were to echo for the next fifty years.

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. This

was just 66 years after Orvil and Wilbur Wright first got their

Wright Flyer off the ground.

Getting back to 2019 we can look back over an incredible

century of flight. In fact, as we mentioned, it is literally just

over a century since man first found a way to get off the ground

in the very first aircraft. Less than fifty years later, following

the air campaigns of the second world war, the first jet aircraft

were produced adding a whole new dimension to flight. Jets

gave aviators the ability to fly so much higher and faster than

before. In 1959, a rocket powered aircraft was produced known

as the X15 which in 1967 would fly higher that ever imagined

at an altitude of 102,100 feet at a speed of Mach 6.7. The pilot

was officially the first Astronaut. Just two years later, man

stepped on the moon. These days, we have seen regular rocket

and shuttle launches, satellites launched to relay information

in a myriad of ways, a manned space station and man has even

reached Mars.

But let’s talk about the UK. The UK has been involved in space

programmes since 1952, eventually launching the Ariel satellite

programme in 1959 using US rockets but it wasn’t until 2011

until the UK was to fund it’s first astronaut to the International

Space Station. The honour falling to Army Air Corps Apache

pilot, Tim Peake when he rocketed off to the ISS in 2015.

But as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing,

the former UK’s Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, outlined

the UK’s future space programme.


(1) The small satellite demonstrator, which will be supported

by a new transatlantic team of UK and US defence personnel,

named Team ARTEMIS, will sit alongside a host of other

programmes that will demonstrate the UK’s leading future role

in space.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff,

said: “I am delighted that the Secretary of State has announced

our plans to take our space ambitions to the next stage through

Project ARTEMIS. When this is combined with our investments

in the training and development of our people, improved

command and control, greater space situational awareness, and

(1) Article exerpt from (2) Article exerpt from

| 20

One Giant Leap...

Virgin Orbit

our commitment to the Space Coalition with our allies, it all

underlines the importance and constantly growing role of Space

in the Royal Air Force’s capabilities.”

ARTEMIS gives us the opportunity to grow skills, understand

the military relevance of small satellites and responsive launch,

and consider how to get space-based information to the

warfighter in operationally relevant timelines, all of which are

vital to ensure we stay ahead of the evolving threat.

race has now evolved into an almost routine exercise. It makes

one think where we will be in another 50 years. Colonisation?

maybe living in purpose built orbital cities? Maybe even

reaching new worlds? Who knows.

Major Tim Peake

(2) As part of Team Artemis, An RAF pilot will be selected for

Virgin Orbit’s small satellite launch activities, with a successful

candidate to fly on board its modified Boeing 747-400 platform,

named “Cosmic Girl”.

A total of 17 candidates applied for the opportunity and a

shortlist of four – two each from the fast jet and multi-engined

aircraft areas – has been drawn up. One of these will join the

Virgin Orbit flight-test team, Air Commodore Richard Davies,

commandant of the RAF’s Air Warfare centre, confirmed at the

Royal International Air Tattoo.

Placing a test pilot within the Virgin Orbit organisation forms

part of a broader satellite initiative announced by the UK

Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 18 July.

The future of the UK Space Projects have never been more

vibrant and exciting. Astronaut Tim Peake drew the line in the

sand when he embarked on his ISS mission for other would-be

British astronauts. Incidentally, Tim is hopeful for his second

trip in the near fututre. Watch this space (excuse the pun).

But just 50 years on from that first step on the moon, the Space

21 |

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• Understanding Mind Wellness

Half day workshopintroducing mental health, coping strategies and the 3Self’s model.

• Holistic themed workshop

Includes the benefits of guided meditation, breathing techniques, Yoga and Mindfulness.

• Motorsport themed workshop

Includes the benefits of being focused, having goals to achieve, being part of a team and social


New for 2020, an exciting collaboration between Spar Motorsport and First Step Forward brings you

Racing Minds and the Veterans Trophy, an endurance karting championship that is the first of its kind

in the UK and Europe. It will be made up of seven rounds and is planned be held at eight professional

circuits around the country, chosen for their geographical location to better assist those wishing to

enter, with up to twenty drivers taking part at each location. It is specifically aimed towards those

veterans and partners of service personnel, who have been impacted by poor mental health/illness

and is non gender specific.

There are a few sponsorship opportunities remaining for 2019 and we are now also looking for

headline and location sponsors for Veterans Trophy 2020.

Interested? Email:


Cups • Ropelets • T-Shirts • Polos • Hoodies • Jackets • Prints

A percentage of all monies will be given to First Step Forward, enabling them to continue subsidising

the mental health training they provide. Should you wish to donate directly then please visit :

| 10

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11 |

Off The Grid

With BTCC Champion & SBT Patron, Matt Neal

Honda looks to add luck to pace

as BTCC resumes in Norfolk...

Article: Andrew Charman, Honda BTCC Image: Jakob Ebrey

Honda drivers Dan Cammish and Matt Neal will be looking for

some luck to go with the pace they have shown in their 2019 British

Touring Car Championship campaign as the series returns from its

summer break at Snetterton in Norfolk on 4th August.

The Halfords Yuasa Racing team is keen to get back to the action,

a month on from the most recent rounds at Oulton Park where the

Honda Civic Type R of Cammish scored two more podium finishes

to take his total to five this season, but team-mate Neal was spun

out of the lead and a potential winning position in the final race.

At the mid-way point of the season, Matt, Dan and Team Dynamics

are taking a well deserved break and taking stock of part 1 of this

years championship. How will the second half of the season pan

out for our Patron? We hear from Honda’s Andrew Charman.

The fast 2.97-mile Snetterton circuit has been a happy hunting

ground for Honda’s BTCC team in the past, yielding six race wins

in the last nine seasons. And the track will hold sweet recent memories

for Neal, as at the Snetterton meeting in 2018 he took victory

in the extended-length ‘Diamond Double’ race celebrating the

BTCC’s 60th anniversary.

Cammish, meanwhile, will head for Norfolk with the confidence

of a strong performance in a two-day tyre test held at the circuit in

July. His Honda Civic Type R was consistently among the quickest

cars over both days and he ended the test with second-fastest time.

Dan Cammish – Halfords Yuasa Racing driver

A double podium at Oulton has put me back into the Championship

hunt and I’ll be looking to keep that form for the second half

of the season. I ran well in testing at Snetterton recently, being near

the top of the time sheets all day, so I go there with my tail held

high and looking to keep adding to my points tally and build on

my current position.

Matt Neal – Halfords Yuasa Racing driver and Team Dynamics


Oulton Park was another weekend where the luck just wasn’t on

our side! The car felt great from the get-go but the day didn’t quite

go to plan. But on to Snetterton, I have had some great battles there

over the years and obviously want to replicate my Double Diamond

win there last year. During the recent test we ran through a number

of changes on the car and feel confident that we should have good

race pace come the weekend.

BTCC Drivers’ Championship, after 15 rounds

1. Colin Turkington 195 points

2. Andrew Jordan 162 points

3. Josh Cook 148 points

5. Dan Cammish 130 points

8. Matt Neal 125 points

BTCC Manufacturers’ Championship, after 15


1. BMW 425 points

2. Honda 379 points

3. Subaru 326 points

BTCC Teams’ Championship, after 15 rounds

1 Team BMW 276 points

2. Halfords Yuasa Racing 252 points

3. Cobra Sport AMD 218 points

* all points provisional pending judicial decisions

Rounds 16-18 of the British Touring Car Championship

will take place at Snetterton, Norfolk on Sunday

4th August.

| 24

Off The Grid


Are Proud to be Sponsoring the

English Veterans Awards

Veterans Business of

the Year Award

25th September 2019

With Pablo

A Brand New Start...

I had a dream the other night..., well it was a nightmare actually.

Nothing that really bothered me but certainly enough for me to think

about the meaning of it.

The dream was, I was walking down a street very close to my home

when everything started to turn a brilliant white and then all of a

sudden the ground started to disappear. Weird, I know but there you

have it, our dreams can go all over the place.

As I said, I was none the worse for it but after a little research, I started

finding the same meaning over and over again. Dreaming of an end or

dreaming that you die is meant to signify a new beginning. Of course,

there is no scientific evidence to this and it could very possibly be

complete rubbish but it did kind of make sense a little.

Recently, I have been going through a lot of career changes and

my mind, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that this was such

a sign telling me to look to the new future. I may be wrong but I will

look at it as a good sign, after all, what do I have to lose.

So my thoughts reflect on some of the nightmares I used to suffer

when I was in the midst of PTSD. Totally different and incoparable,

I know but maybe it was a way of being told to get help. Maybe not,

but one thing I am learning is that there is a reason for everything we

experience. The trick is to recognise the message. Much easier to write

about than to do in practice.

But the message here is that we must always look for our new start no

matter how bad things seem. One thing we can say without doubt is

that your new future does lie ahead, you just need the strength to look

for it. As far as my fellow veterans are concerned, I don’t think I could

offer a more worthwhile peice of advice.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with one of the verses that I read when

looking for answers to my dream. I think, this is where it started to

make a little sense.

Isaiah 43:18-19

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a

new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a

way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Hope this helps you in your journey through life.

Take care all and God Bless, Pabs

pointing myself into a new and very positive direction. It has all got

very exciting, I must admit. I won’t bore you with the details but it is

quite well documented in this issue.

The thing is, the dream, to me was a sign that my old life was coming

to an end and my new beginning was about to start. So from a bad

dream, a new bright light shines. Perhaps that was the light I saw in

my dream.

Now, I don’t think I am superstitious but I do think that God has a way

of sending messages and signs that perhaps we do not understand. In

| 26

Historical Tommy Atkins

The Shortest War in History

The Anglo-Zanzibar War 1896

The little known Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 is generally considered

to be the shortest war in history, lasting for a grand total of 38 minutes.

The story begins with the signing of the Heligoland-Zanzibar treaty

between Britain and Germany in 1890. This treaty effectively drew

up spheres of influence between the imperial powers in East Africa;

Zanzibar was ceded to British influence, whilst Germany was given

control over mainland Tanzania.

With this new found influence, Britain declared Zanzibar a

protectorate of the British Empire and moved to install their own

‘puppet’ Sultan to look after the region. Hamad bin Thuwaini, who had

been a supporter of the British in the area, was given the position in


Hamad ruled over this relatively peaceful protectorate for just over

3 years until, on August 25, 1896, he died suddenly in his palace.

Although the truth will never be fully known about the causes for

his death, it is widely believed that his cousin, Khalid bin Barghash

(pictured to the right), had him poisoned.

This belief is compounded by the fact that within a few hours of

Hamad’s death, Khalid had already moved into the palace and assumed

the position of Sultan, all without British approval.

Needless to say the local British diplomats were not at all happy with

this turn of events, and the chief diplomat in the area, Basil Cave,

quickly declared that Khalid should stand down. Khalid ignored these

warnings and instead starting gathering his forces around the Palace.

These forces were surprisingly well armed, although it’s worth noting

that quite a few of their guns and cannons were actually diplomatic

gifts that had been presented to the former Sultan over the years! By

the end of 25th August, Khalid had his palace secured with almost

3,000 men, several artillery guns and even a modestly armed Royal

Yacht in the nearby harbour.

At the same time, the British already had two warships anchored in

the harbour, the HMS Philomel and the HMS Rush, and troops were

quickly being sent ashore to protect the British Consulate and to keep

the local population from rioting. Cave (pictured to the right) also

requested backup from another nearby British ship, the HMS Sparrow,

which entered the harbour on the evening of the 25th August.

Even though Cave had a significant armed presence in the harbour,

he knew that he did not have the authority to open hostilities without

express approval of the British government. To prepare for all

eventualities, he sent a telegram to the Foreign Office that evening

stating: “Are we authorised in the event of all attempts at a peaceful

solution proving useless, to fire on the Palace from the men-of-war?”

Whilst waiting for a reply from Whitehall, Cave continued issuing

ultimatums to Khalid but to no avail.

The next day, two more British warships entered the harbour, the HMS

Racoon and the HMS St George, the latter carrying Rear-Admiral

Harry Rawson, commander of the British fleet in the area At the same

time, Cave had received a telegraph from Whitehall stating:

“You are authorised to adopt whatever measures you may consider

necessary, and will be supported in your action by Her Majesty’s

Government. Do not, however, attempt to take any action which you

are not certain of being able to accomplish successfully.”

The final ultimatum to Khalid was issued on the 26th August,

demanding that he leave the palace by 9am the next day. That night,

Cave also demanded that all non-military boats leave the harbour in

preparation for war.

At 8am the next morning, only one hour before the ultimatum expired,

Khalid sent a reply to Cave stating:

“We have no intention of hauling down our flag and we do not believe

you would open fire on us.”

Cave replied in true 19th century British diplomatic style, stating that

he had no desire to fire upon the palace “but unless you do as you are

told, we shall certainly do so.”

The conflict

That was the last Cave heard from Khalid, and at 9am the order was

given for the British ships in the harbour to begin bombarding the

palace. By 09:02 the majority of Khalid’s artillery had been destroyed,

and the palaces wooden structure had started to collapse with 3,000

defenders inside. It is also around this time, two minutes after the

bombardment started, that Khalid is said to have escaped through a

back exit of the palace, leaving his servants and fighters to defend the

palace alone.

By 09:40 the shelling had ceased, the Sultan’s flag pulled down, and the

shortest war in history had officially ended after only 38 minutes.

For such a short war, the casualty rate was surprisingly high with over

500 of Khalid’s fighters killed or wounded, mainly due to the high

explosive shells exploding on the palace’s flimsy structure. One British

petty officer was also severely injured, but later recovered in hospital.

With Khalid out of the way, the UK was free to place the pro-British

Sultan Hamud on the throne of Zanzibar, and he ruled on behalf of

Her Majesty’s Government for the next six years.

As for Khalid, he managed to escape with a small group of loyal

followers to the local German Consulate. Despite repeated calls from

the British for his extradition, he was smuggled out of the country on

October 2nd by the German navy and taken to modern day Tanzania.

It was not until British forces invaded East Africa in 1916 that Khalid

was finally captured and subsequently taken to Saint Helena for exile.

After ‘serving time’, he was later allowed to return to East Africa where

he died in 1927.

Article from

27 |



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11 |

Introduction from Suzanne Fernando

Hello everyone and welcome

to your AFVBC news.

This section will focus solely

on Veteran Breakfast Clubs

across the UK.

I’m delighted to take the reins

as your AFVBC Correspondent,

I’m looking forward to

my new role and trust these

Monthly updates will keep

everyone informed of club


Send your articles and stories into

The Armed Forces and Veterans

Breakfast Club’s official

monthly magazine

You will find information

attached should any of you wish to contact me regarding an

article and I look forward to hearing from you.

Suzanne Fernando

AFVBC Correspondent for the SBT

SBT Correspondent has revealed

her shock at being awarded an MBE.

Suzanne Fernando was revealed as the recipient of an MBE

on the June birthday Honours list for her services to Cervical

Cancer, Autism and Military Veterans.

For the past 20 years Suzanne has devoted most of her time to

charity work. Suzanne told us how a tough year has been made

that bit better and how she was “overwhelmed” by the award.

She said: “What started off as the worst year with various

illnesses and bedded down for almost four months has now

transformed into a whirlwind of a week for me. I celebrated my

wedding anniversary, birthday, TACT Volunteer Award, British

Citizen Award and now I’ve been told I’ll be off down to Buckingham

Palace to receive an MBE.

“I am still in shock, I can’t quite believe what is happening

and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. As a military veteran

and having served my Queen & Country I am overwhelmed,

delighted and humbled to have been awarded this amazing


Suzanne does a lot for her chosen charities and her community

and wants to thank those who help her out.

She added: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has

supported me throughout the years, especially my family whom

I continue to drag here, there and everywhere setting up events

and seminars. They have, are and always will be my rock.”

| 30



Vale Park Football Club who are usually located in Burslem which is a town

situated within the city of Stoke-on-Trent were up in Largs on a weeks training.

A few of the lads visited the famous Green Shutters Cafe and popped in

for their breakfast before heading back to the pitch.

They were fortunate to meet some of the local veteran breakfast club members

who were also in enjoying some delicious breakfast, scones and banter. They

had a great morning at the Green Shutter Tearoom in Largs with 12 veterans

attending plus a brief photo op with Port Vale FC lads who were up in Scotland

on a weeks training. Members said,

“It was lovely to meet such well mannered and respectful young lads. We

wish them all the very best for the season.” Largs Veteran Breakfast Club

meet every Tuesday morning at the Green Shutters Cafe in Largs between

10am and 12 noon. All are welcome!


March AFVBC enjoyed their first outing to the National Arboretum

at Alrewas recently, and it just so happened that it was their

oldest members birthday, Mr Harold Noor 93 yrs young!

The club arranged a surprise treat for him, a birthday cake and

lot’s of cards. The restaurant granted them permission to have

there own cake and the club members were delighted with the

exceptional service from the staff, who even treated Harold to a

complimentary birthday whiskey, his favoured tipple.

Harold thoroughly enjoyed his special birthday saying: “It’s been

the bestest birthday ever.”

Ayreshire AFVBC

Big congratulations to both Mr

& Mrs Wright from the Ayrshire

Veteran Breakfast club who tied the

knot recently. Pictured with fellow


Treaty of Versailles

It is the 100 year

anniversary of the

Treaty of Versailles

which signalled

the official end of


Members of the

Saltcoats Veteran

Breakfast Club

recently paid their

respects at Saltcoats

War Memorial

31 |

Dereck Hardman Thanked by Theresa May

Hull East AFVBC

A good 40 veterans and their families

attended at the Hull East Armed

Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club,

along with the new Lord Mayor of

Kingston-upon-Hull, the Honourable

Steven Williams, who was ‘startled’

to learn of the extent of this organisation.

Dereck Hardman RE from Ganstead, the founder and driving force behind the world-wide

phenomenon which is the Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs, has been recognised by

the Prime Minister this morning for his brilliant work with a Points of Light award.

In a personal letter to Dereck, Theresa May said: “By founding the Armed Forces and Veterans

Breakfast Clubs you are helping those who, like yourself, have given so much in service to our

country. Bringing together our brave veterans creates a sense of community and provides vital

support for veterans’ health and wellbeing. You should feel truly proud of your work”.

I second May’s sentiments well done Dereck!


Charlotte Olford from Par AFVBC, shares

news of there first birthday:

“We organised a festival, this was attended

over two days by some 200 people (not

bad for a first year) 15 local bands gave

their time and sang their hearts out. RBL

,SSAFA, Combat Stress, Veterans In action

6 Rifles and the RAF reserves as well as local

cadet forces were in attendance. The event

was a huge success and plans are already in

place for next year’s event which will be held

on 3rd and 4th July 2020

Our Face book page has some amazing


The event was supported by Local business,

D Day Veteran - St Helens AFVBC

Local Veteran Raymond Rush unfortunately had to miss St Helens AFVBC

D Day trip as he was in hospital at the time, so the breakfast club came to

the rescue by hosting a little party just for Raymond at the hospital.

The local press were invited, along with the NHS area manager and administrator

who all made a real fuss of there local and much respected hero

who had served with the South Lancashire Regiment during WW2.

The icing on the top for our Raymond though had to be a lovely letter from

none other than HM the Queen, sending her good wishes. (Please see

atched photo)

On behalf of The Sandbag Times, we’d like to wish Raymond a speedy

recovery and look forward to hearing all about his next trip with St Helens


Legacy Properties, Speedy hire, Towergate

insurance and Tirio Tech to name but a few.

The event raised £200 for each of the three

charities - (BL, SSAFA, Combat Stress)

Friendships were formed that will last a

lifetime, as well as a specialreunion for two

ladies who were in basic training together

30 years ago! The highlight of the event

is not measured in success but for us it

is measured in the smiling faces and one

member in particular who sadly lost his wife

told us that this event had given him the

confidence to get back out and meet people

again andthathe’d had the best time ever

since his wife died.

It would be great to see more people next

year - Tickets are already

on sale.”

| 32


High Plains (Spain) AFVBC

By Esther Navarro

Hello, my name is Esther Navarro, and I am founding co-admin

for the High Plains (Spain) AFVBC (north Granada province,


I am a civilian, but I have been related to the armed forces my

entire life. My father was a career soldier, US Army. I was born

and raised on a military base overseas. I grew up in a place

where you stopped the car and saluted the flag at sundown. All

my friends were army brats, like myself. My dad volunteered to

go to Vietnam, and when he came back, he was a different daddy

than the one that had gone to war. In those days, children were

seen and not heard, and they were never told “adult problems”.

So I never understood why my dad was always so angry at me.

I grew up first fearing him, then hating him. He passed away

years later, from one of the many illnesses the US government

denies are war related. To this day, I carry the guilt of not

understanding him.

Fast forward to 2015, I met my now husband, a RAFP vet and

BTP police dog handler. He struggles, and I have learned so

much thanks to him. Fate works in strange ways. Living with my

husband, I have learned why my father was and did what he did.

So as you may understand, the Armed Forces, and especially

veterans, are something very dear to me. I love to sit and listen to

the banter, the stories, the memories.

I am very active in several military charities, and when I heard

about the AFVBC, I decided then and there to start one in our

area. That is where I am now. We live in a very remote area

of southern Spain, with not only ex-pats, but local Spaniard

scattered about. I live in a tiny hamlet with about 60 permanent

residents, of which, as of today, about 14 are British, and of

those, 3 are vets. We can travel for miles just for a coffee, and if

the food is good, we may even drive over an hour.

We have our regular meetings once a month at our scheduled

venue, but we will also be having “roaming breakfasts” in the

different towns and hamlets in our area. Hopefully this will help

in bringing more men and women out of their caves, and back

into the family.

33 |



The Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs’ main purpose is to

end the isolation of veterans. Some seem to need it more than others,

but all who attend benefit to one degree or another. For some it is a


YouGov research undertaken in September 2017 found that 41% of

British Armed Forces veterans felt lonely or isolated after leaving the

military, 34% said they had felt overwhelmed by negative feelings, and

over a quarter (27 per cent) admitted to having suicidal thoughts after

finishing their military service.

More than three in ten (31 per cent) admitted they have just one or

no close friends and 53% would be unlikely to discuss any feelings of

loneliness with a family member or close friend, which suggests there

is limited support for these veterans.

The most common reasons veterans gave for feeling lonely and

isolated included: 41% said losing touch with friends in the Armed

Forces, 33% said physical or mental health issues and 23% admitted to

struggling to relate to anyone in civilian life

Most veterans feel they are ‘conditioned’ for service during their basic

training, when they are still ‘impressionable’ (most join straight from

school), and this is reinforced throughout their service career, so they

are fundamentally changed for the rest of their lives (I know I have!).

When they leave, most don’t ‘return’ to civilian life, they enter civilian

life for the first time, many in their late twenties, early thirties, or after

a full service career.

Many say that when they walk out of the gate for the last time,

they feel ‘abandoned’. Many have feelings of isolation, even those

surrounded by close family and friends, simply because they feel

‘different’ from those around them. They have a different ideology,

ethics, and even their language sets them apart. I actually went

through a long period I would compare to ‘mourning’ when I left...

I would often dream I was ‘back in’ and then wake up as ‘a civilian’,

which I found very difficult to cope with, and very occasionally it still

happens to me now, although I have dealt very much more easily with

my own feelings since I started the AFVBC’s.

We seek to address these issues, by putting them back into almost a

‘pseudo-military’ social environment... it’s the Mess, the NAAFI, the

Squadron/Company Bar, the Ward Room, the Cookhouse... veterans

speaking the same language as they did, with the same terms of

reference of their service - we call it ‘returning to the tribe’ after the

TED talk by Sebastian Junger



This footage was such an epiphany for me, I wrote to Sebastian

Junger, and received his permission to use the phrase - we now have

veterans all over the world ‘returning to the tribe’ with Armed Forces

& Veterans Breakfast Clubs... impossible to say how many, because

there is no formal registration, but I would estimate there are well over

a hundred thousand now, increasing daily, joining over 300 hundred

clubs; we have started MORE than one club a week, every week, since

June 2014.

I think the AFVBC’s offer an opportunity for vets to stay connected

to their military psyche, be part of the family they post, and I hope

we can actually develop connections with the serving military and

units in the future, so that new leavers do not feel as if their military

family have turned their backs on them. Within the clubs themselves,

they often reflect how society ‘should’ be; older veterans are valued

and revered (care homes are bringing veterans in their charge to

clubs), they are respected, and nowhere else will you see a 92 year old

D Day veteran and a twenty-something Afghan Veteran exchanging

quips and banter while eating breakfast together (one club has a

94 year old German U Boat submariner attending regularly!). And

when inevitably an older veteran passes away, their families are often

surprised to see a guard of honour, a bugler playing last post, and the

passing of an old soldier/sailor/airmen/woman, who have served their

country, being marked with the ‘send-off ’ they deserved, instead of an

unremarkable ceremony, with few attending, passing off unnoticed.

Often, an Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club starting within a

community is akin to dropping a pebble into a pond; there are now

‘Veterans Hubs’, funded by local authorities, where there was none

before. Armed Forces Day events and Remembrance Day parades

are being organised where previously there was none, AFVBC’s are

connecting with their local authorities, often through their local

authority Armed Forces Covenant Champion, and the welfare of local

veterans who are struggling is being addressed. There are knock-on

effects to for the families of those who have served with their loved

ones’ outlook, social interaction and opportunities fundamentally


This is why they are now spreading all over the UK, across Europe, and

around the world, from New Zealand & Australia, to Canada and the

USA, by veterans and serving military, for serving military & veterans.

AFVBC’s are closing the gap between communities and the military,

allowing wider society that the military and veterans are ordinary

people, who, quite often, have done extraordinary things.

I think the AFVBC’s now have an essential part to play in the

resettlement of Armed Forces Veterans, and I hope to increase the

support for this with the MOD and Covenant in the future, because

I also think that this will have an effect on recruiting; Social Media,

rightly or wrongly, is full of stories of isolated veterans, struggling with

their mental health. Potential recruits see for themselves the results

of active service on resettled service personnel (not something I saw

when I was considering joining, because there was no social media, or

I may have also thought twice about it) and although the majority cope

well when they return to civilian life, it may leave potential recruits

with the impression that service life could damage their mental health.

In actual fact, in many ways, it was the making of me, it gave me a

yardstick to measure myself by throughout my life, showed me I could

go beyond what I thought I was capable of, and made me realise I

could achieve anything if I fought hard enough for it. That is what

the recruitment should be concentrating on (in my humble opinion),

that once you have served your country, you will be part of a ‘military

family’ for life.

It would have been wonderful, when my service was at an end, if I’d

had an Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club to go to, so I could

have remained, partially at least, part of the tribe when I needed it...

thankfully/hopefully, that is what we will achieve in the future.

Dereck J. Hardman BA(Hons) MCGI MInstRE

Founder of the Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs

Director of Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs CIC

Find your nearest AFVBC

| 34



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11 | 47 |

Mrs Fox

Goes To War

The Chronicles of Little Hope

1939 - 1945

Villager of the month:

George Cross

George hadn’t realised

that the vicar was quite

so liberal...

George Cross, SOE Agent

extraordinaire, was known

to be a master of disguise

and sleight of hand and was

a damned fine shot to boot.

His signature fragrance was

a unique brand of tobacco

which lingered in the air long

after he’d departed the covert

scene of operations and

it was rumoured that a single

whiff of his peculiar shag was

enough to strike fear into the

very heart of any jerry coming

across it. George was also rather

adept at puffing out Morse

code with his pipe, as it were,

so to speak, hence his SOE

handle ‘Three Nuns Shag’.

George was the beloved beau

of Penny Stamp, the postmistress

of Little Hope, and it was

truly a match made in heaven,

they danced around one another’s

affections like Fred and

Ginger and managed - inadvertently

- to cause havoc both

abroad in occupied Europe and

back home in Blighty.


| 36

Mrs Fox Goes To War

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 advice.

Dear Mrs Potter,

The Little Hope Herald

Saturday, 31st August 1940

Have you ever, in all the time you have lived in your little cottage on

Donkey Trot Lane, found yourself being rudely swept out of the

house and into your foxgloves by a tidal-wave of rain thundering

down the chimney during a summer storm, or awoken on a winter’s

morning to find your little sitting room knee deep in a snowdrift?

No, of course you haven’t, nor are you likely to. You see the average

chimney, such as your own, is not simply a vertical gateway to the

skies – it bends a little on the way up in order to slow the passage

of Mother nature’s unexpected bounty, allowing it to burn to a

crisp before it has time to annoy you .

Dear Mrs Ffinch,

Mrs Alice Potter

Cranberry Cottage

Donkey Trot Lane

Little Hope

25th August 1940

Whilst lying in bed the other night, I remembered

that I hadn’t put the fireguard up and when I

went downstairs to do so I suddenly had the most

terrifying thought: Supposing a Jerry bomber is

able to see down my chimney during the blackout

and thus knows exactly where to drop his load?

Many a century has passed, Mrs Potter, since we English sat

cross-legged in a circle about a fire in the middle of our wattle and

daub huts, eating roasted squirrel and watching the smoke

disappear though a hole in the roof before idly picking our teeth

with a handy bit of deer antler and popping out to defecate in

the lupins.

We are a civilised race, my dear, and our chimneys are the envy

of the world – I myself have a couple of particularly impressive

specimens, one of which is sufficiently cavernous as to allow a

string quartet to enter without too much ado, light a few

sparklers, bang out a bit of Beethoven and still give the Luftwaffe no

inkling of their presence.

Is this likely to be the case, and if so did I ought

to desist from lighting a fire at night until the war

is over? I’ve no burning desire to make myself

and my little cottage a target! I’ve some excellent

cabbages coming up and would dearly like to live to

see them through to fruition.

Yours, by candlelight,

Alice Potter, Mrs.

So light your fire of an evening, by all means, Mrs Potter, but do be sure to put your fireguard up as a stray coal may

indeed set the whole house ablaze and will definitely enable Herr Goering’s demonic bats to pinpoint not only your little

cottage but indeed the entire village. I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you how unpopular you are likely to be in the

vicinity on the back of that monumental faux pas!

Good luck with the cabbages, dear, adhere to the above advice and you’ll probably outlive them.


Hilda Ffinch,

The Bird with All The Answers

You can catch more of Mrs Fox and Friends at

or on Twitter @mrslaviniafox

37 |

TO ORDER PLEASE CALL: 01226 734222




| 10




H H H H H “Worth a trip to Belgium”

(The Daily Telegraph)



at the historic SKINDLES

Poperinge (nr Ypres), Belgium

November 2 – 11 2019


In support of CWGC

11 |

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