St Faith's and the Forces
This page records the various connections our church has with the British Armed Forces past and present,
telling the story of our Services Family Support Group and some of the memorials and military connections
at our church.
St Faith's Family Support Group was formed in 2010 at the instigation of Mrs Eunice Little,
with the aim of providing a regular meeting place and a focus for prayer.
She writes about its inception and activities; her introduction is followed by assorted reports and stories:
the most recent is posted first.
The Services Family Support group has been in place for over four years now, with its aim being to offer support through prayer and friendship to the families and friends of service personnel while they are away on deployment. We hold monthly meetings in church starting with a short service of prayer and reflection, followed by light refreshments and a chance to socialise. As well as the Padre who leads the service there may be a guest speaker telling of their experiences while on deployment. Also present are representatives from some of the many forces' charities to offer help and advice if needed.
Meetings are held on the 1st Wednesday of the month (any change is notified) and start at 7.30pm. Various social events are held during the year with everything being advertised through the local press and radio as well as on this web page.
All are welcome at our meetings and events, so if you can join with us to offer your support to both the families and the servicemen and women during such a worrying for them, it is much appreciated.
UK. FORCES SUPPORT
'Scotty's Little Soldiers'
Our meetings have started again after our summer break and at the September 2015 meeting it was surprising to learn in how many places worldwide British troops are deployed. These are mainly in an advisory/support/ teaching position but that doesn't mean they are not in danger: two British airmen were killed recently when a helicopter crashed on returning to base in Afghanistan,and an Armoured Personal Carrier was seriously damaged when it drove over an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) while on patrol in Kabul; fortunately nobody was hurt. Life for serving troops still holds danger even in supposedly peaceful places.
Although there is no longer a war zone with many troops in constant danger, with the media covering the situation in depth, support is still needed for all the troops who were injured, many very seriously, and all will be needing long term medical treatment and after care. Their lives and that of their families have been changed forever and they will all need support for a long time if not for the rest of their lives.
There is another group of people who are sometimes not always mentioned but who have had their world and lives turned upside down and they find it really hard to cope with what has happened. These are the children whose fathers were seriously injured or even worse killed. There is a charity, 'Scotty's Little Soldiers' which set up by Nikki Scott, widow of Cpl Lee Scott who was killed in Afghanistan. She realised what effect this trauma had on her children and wanted to do something to help them and other children in the same position, so that they could laugh, have fun even though their daddies had been killed so she set about doing something about it. As we are a 'Service Family Support' group I thought it would be good to raise some funds to help these children, so I will find out more about the charity, see what we can do raise some money for these children who really do deserve our help. With Christmas fast approaching I think that it will be 2016 before this happens so at the risk of being boring "Watch this Space"!
'We will remember them'
There were two celebrations taking place on Wednesday November 5th, 2014. In actual fact there were four, but more of that later. The first one was rather obvious - Bonfire Night. The second was really more of a commemoration than a celebration, but the two complemented each other very nicely, but definitely without either knowing it or it being planned.
The Commemoration was our Services Family Support Group's tribute to the Acts of Remembrance held respectively on Sunday 9th November and Tuesday 11th November, the actual day for Remembrance. It was an Act of Remembrance not only for the Centenary of WW1 but for ALL the conflicts there have been since 1914-1918 war: the 1939-45 war, Korea, Borneo, Malaya, Northern Ireland, Aden, Suez, Cyprus ,Falklands, two Gulf Wars, Bosnia, Kenya, Palestine, Afghanistan - these are not all that have taken place in this time and for the ones I have missed I apologise. It was for all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, and also those whose lives have been changed forever by injury, and this is not only the servicemen and women, but also their families.
Padre George Perera had put together a very moving service with prayers, readings, poems, hymns and interesting facts. For instance on 5th November 1914, the exact centenary of our meeting, the first Battle of Ypres was taking place; it had started at the end of October and lasted until late November. All this was helped by the use of candles and some "props" to add a wonderful atmosphere. These included the draping of the British Legion Standard across the altar, a very old picture of a WW1 soldier with his arms around his horse, this being flanked by the Legion's 2014 appeal poster of a little girl asking for the country to remember her daddy, a soldier., Our thanks to Dave Quinn of Crosby branch of the British Legion for lending us these and for joining with us. And of course a poppy wreath, so necessary and very poignant. So what was the connection between our Remembrance service and Bonfire Night? The sound and sight of rockets being set off, fireworks sounding like "rapid fire", bright flashes and thunderous bangs that could be heard over our hymns, prayers and poems were all, with a little imagination, able to bring home how the constant noise must have been deafening as well unbelievable to those at the front, even though what we heard could not compare with what those young soldiers were always hearing. But they couldn't "switch off" at 9pm as we did when the fireworks parties came to an end.
This all dovetailed beautifully with St Faith's service of Remembrance on Sunday 9th November, which was led by Rev Sue and featured the draping of the Legion Standard across the pulpit, the solemn public reading of the St Faith's Roll of Honour, for possibly the first time, the very moving solo trumpet playing after the two minutes' silence and finally the laying of the poppy wreath at the altar. It all made St Faith's Act of Remembrance a special andtruly moving and meaningful occasion.
On a personal note, I have been to both the War Cemetery at Tyne Cot and Ypres for the 8pm daily service, two deeply moving places that again help bring home the huge loss of so many young lives when you see this lists of names and row upon row of head stones so beautifully cared for, that you cannot forget the price that was paid and not wish to remember them.
Now the other two celebrations- these were two very special birthdays, Irene Taylor (4/11) and Angie Price (7/11), both admitting to being at least 21! Naturally they couldn't pass unmarked so a small buffet, with cake, was enjoyed by all, with also a big "thank you" for the scones and shortbread they have supplied for the refreshments which follow our meetings each month!
Our next meeting is Wednesday 3rd December and is part of the sixth annual St Faith's Christmas Tree Festival. It is our now traditional Carol Service with a Military Band. It's a great evening, so please mark the date in your diaries and join with us: 7.30pm start, but get there early for a good seat! See you then.
November 15th, 2014
On and off the Streets
This last meeting of the group before our summer hols, was one that I had been looking forward to since I had finally managed to arrange it earlier. Our guest speakers were Pastor Terry English and his wife Doreen from Hanley Baptist Church, Hanley, Staffordshire, who also operate Manna House, a charity for the homeless and vulnerable. Terry, an ex soldier who served in the Royal Corps of Transport, told us of the background of Street Pastors and how they had come into being. It was very surprising to learn that they had only been formed in 2003 by Rev Les Isaacs, who had been invited by a friend and fellow preacher to visit Jamaica to see a scheme that had been set up to deal with the problems in the most dangerous no-go areas there where even the police couldn't, and more to the point wouldn't go for fear of being killed. Then a group of Christians decided to try a very radical approach, they would enter these areas in a group and try a gentler approach using God’s word and kindness to help these people to a better life - and it was a success!
Rev Isaacs was very impressed and began to wonder if the same approach could be used here, particularly in London. So on his return home he set about putting the idea into action. To make it work there has to be agreement from three bodies: the local council, the police and the local churches, if any one of these three doesn’t agree, then the scheme cannot go ahead. Fortunately he got all those concerned to agree and so the scheme was trialled in Brixton, one of the most dangerous areas of London, and again it was a success! And so Street Pastors began, rising from their initial five to the present several thousands working in most of the major towns and cities in this country with very good results. Their main work is with ‘party goers’ making sure that they get home safely after a night’s heavy drinking, but they also look out for and look after the homeless and those who live on the streets, getting them into hostels if they can, seeing that medical help is on hand should it be needed and that they are safe. They work in groups, wearing a distinctive coat so that they can be easily recognised, but the work they do is invaluable and I for one am very happy to know one such person.
Doreen then went on to tell us about the work that Manna House does with the homeless in the Hanley area, but this work could be anywhere in England. They have all sorts of people coming to them in need of help, many homeless, for although councils only count the people they actually see sleeping on the street as "homeless" these figures are not always accurate as those sleeping rough will find places that are quiet and as sheltered as they can be from the weather, so they are not going to be easy to find because they do not want to be found. Then there are those who are "sofa hopping", that is spending one or two nights on someone’s sofa or floor as they have no permanent home, so they too are ‘homeless’ but not included in any council’s figures as they are not known. Of course amongst these are ex servicemen, but it is often difficult to discover this for these men who have served their country, placed their life on the line and while they were serving everything was done for them as far as shelter, food, clothes, medical care was all found, but when they leave the forces they have not been prepared or given the right help for what they will have to do in ‘civvy street’ so they lose everything but are too ashamed to say. They could also be ill as many are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress but are not aware that they are, and because of this cannot either find a job or keep one if they do get one, so no job, no money, no home. All very sad. So places like Manna House are literally a God send to them, and people like Doreen and her team are there for them giving all the help they can from clothes, medical care and food. On Thursday evenings Doreen cooks for and feeds 130 people, then they are given a food bag to take out so that they have something to eat the next day, they are truly amazing. Manna House is so well known that they are given bread, in quantity, from Warburton’s bakery, various warehouses pass on their over stock and they recently been given enough kitchen equipment and furniture to re vamp the kitchen and dining room, all of which would have gone to the tip if Doreen hadn't found it first!!
Terry and Doreen are two very committed Christians who do so much for others that they are a great pleasure and joy to know. I have been in touch with them and they found their evening with us a very happy experience and are very happy to met us all and are delighted that some of us are going to go see them and help out at one of the Thursday night meals and we'll tell all about that on our return.
Padres on Parade
Our March and April meetings were two very interesting but different experiences of tours of duty in Afghanistan, The speakers were Padres Phil Burrows and Nathan King, who have both recently returned from deployment.
In March we were treated to a short film showing The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment preparing for, serving and returning from their tour, and with Padre Phils interesting and humorous commentary, it gave a good insight into the life of soldiers on deployment. Padres are non combatant-no guns- so they don't usually go out on patrol, but they do offer support, services, prayers comfort and coffee to the soldiers when they have been or are going out on patrol or waiting in camp for their next patrol. There are also times when a soldier receives sad news from home and it is not possible for them to return, so the padre is the person that they turn to for comfort and support. This happened when a soldier could not return to England for a family funeral, but did know the exact date and time when it would be taking place . Padre Phil arranged for a service to take place at that exact same time, to which all were welcome, bringing comfort and the closeness of home for the bereaved soldier, showing that their family was not remote or forgotten.
Although the tour was not without accidents or illness, happily they did not have any casualties that resulted in death, which was a comfort to them all. Soldiers are not renowned for being religious but many of hem did take advantage of the prayer "tags"when offered, the most popular being 23rd Psalm, which they would either wear or have prominently displayed in their vehicles, gaining comfort from having it with them. The time on deployment teaches the servicemen/women much about themselves and the same went for Padre Phil, finding a strength that they did not know that they had, and a deepening of faith which was very meaningful for them all, thankful for the support of their families, Padre Phil, and our little group.
In April Padre Nathan King spoke to us of his experiences of being on deployment,firstly explaining his calling to the ministry and how, once ordained, he knew his calling was to Army Chaplaincy. He went on to explain how important it is for the soldiers to know and trust each other, so that if the situation arises and they were under attack, how much they need to be reliant on each other for support. Because of the dangerous situations servicemen often find themselves in they are issued with protective armour. This comes in tiers, usually 3, and Padre Nathan came to be known as "the 4th tier", protection for the whole soldier and Gods help too. Padre Nathan often found himself supporting servicemen other than British, but he also pointed out that although most of the Afghangi policemen and soldiers, who are being trained to take over at the end of 2014, are good, trustworthy people, it is still hard to trust them completely as there have been many instances in which British servicemen have been both seriously injured or killed by rogue Afghani personnel. Adjusting back to family life is another problem they all face on returning home, for although they and their families are so happy that they are safely home, they do have to learn to cope with the change of circumstance which can prove difficult.
We have had talks from four padres; each has been informative and very interesting, but all have chosen a different perspective on their role and it has been interesting to see how they differ, but how they also "came together" in what they have done and how the servicemen/women react to the presence of a padre and to prayer, especially those who in the past had never thought about religion in any way, but how they have come to realise its importance in their lives.
As a footnote, it has been wonderful to discover that our group here at St Faith's is the ONLY one of its kind in the North West of England, so we can be rightly proud of this fact and also in knowing that what we have achieved is so much appreciated.
April 7th, 2015
And the Band Played on
It hardly seems possible that a year has passed since I was last writing about our carol service, but it has, and on Wednesday December 4th we were doing it again. And wow! – was it a great evening!
Once again we had the excellent military band as in the previous years, who started the proceedings with an overture of Christmas melodies, before accompanying the singing of six carols between the readings of the Christmas story and the lighting of our candle. Padre George Perera gave a gentle, reflective address, bringing together the D-Day landings, our monthly group meetings and the needs of those presently serving in Afghanistan. These latter were also included in the prayers, led by Padre Nathan King of the Royal Welsh, who included those who will be so far from their homes and loved ones this Christmas.
The service concluded with a wonderful compilation of carols and music by the band, which kept everyone in their seats to give the players thunderous applause to end the concert.
It was once again a wonderful, uplifting evening, enjoyed by all and demonstrated by the very generous donations given to the retiring collection, roughly estimated at well over £300, to be shared equally between U.K. Forces Support, Combat Stress and BLESMA.
So not only do our thanks go to W.O.1 D.L. Mitchell and the Lancashire Artillery Band, but to all who supported the evening and throughout the year.
Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday February 5th, 2014, when our guest speaker at 7.30 pm in church will be Padre Nathan King, who will speak to us of his experiences in Afghanistan, so please join us if you can.
Captain 'H' Calls In
Once again we were treated too, and inspired by, our guest speaker who shared with us his experiences in both Iraq (2004) and more recently Afghanistan, both different and both very dangerous.
Captain H Steutl, known as Captain H, is The Regional Operations Support Officer, who looks after the welfare of both the servicemen before they depart and then while they are on deployment and also that of the families who are left behind. This covers any problems they may have, emotional from illness or bereavement within the family at home, financial, home sickness and the stress of the situation both they and their families find themselves in.
This came about as a result of his tour of duty in Iraq when out of the 1700 soldiers deployed less than 1400 returned, 78 fatalities, the rest serious and minor injuries treated either in camp or the more serious returned home for treatment. This was all in a 7-month tour of duty. He had witnessed the stress these servicemen went through and knew that their families were experiencing the very same, as his own family were in the same position. So on his return he set about and succeeded in setting up this welfare position that has proved invaluable.
Captain H praised little groups like ours and the others similar all around the country with similar ideas as they are much appreciated by both the servicemen and their families that people they do not know are supporting them with both parcels, letters and most of all prayer. Support for the Armed Forces has changed for the better in recent years, for when Captain H and his colleagues returned from Iraq they were advised not to travel in uniform and they travelled in coaches with darkened windows so that they were unobtrusive. Now partly because of Royal Wootton Bassett uniforms are worn with pride and servicemen are greeted with parades and appreciation, all a fitting note in the week leading up to Remembrance Day.
Our next meeting is on Wednesday 4th December and it will be our Carol Service with a Military Band. This is part of the Christmas Tree Festival and is always very well attended, so put this date in your diary and come along and join us at this great evening! Look forward to seeing you there!!
Carol Service with Military Band, Wednesday 4th December 7pm for 7.30pm start.
" Combat Stress" is one of the Service charities that our Service Families group has supported since we started in 2010 and for our October 2013 meeting Peter Hoare, North West Welfare Officer for Combat Stress, came along to give us an insight into the important work they do.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has had many names in the past, "Battle Fatigue","Bomb Happy", "Lack of Moral Fibre" etc to mention but a few, and until recently had not had its seriousness acknowledged. Many soldiers during and after WW1 suffered from PTSD, many being shot for cowardice when they could no longer face the horrors of war. Thankfully in 1919 it was acknowledged that it wasn't cowardice but a very serious psychiatric problem that with proper help and some medication it could be treated and the sufferers and their families could once more have their lives back and so Combat Stress was founded.
It is still very difficult for some servicemen and women to realise that they have a problem, often because the symptoms do not appear immediately (it can be years) but more often because they cannot admit, even to themselves, that there is a problem. It is not only members of the Armed Forces who suffer PTSD, anybody who witnesses a serious trauma, a horrific accident, the sudden untimely or harrowing death of a family member or close friend, can suffer too and need the same specialist help.
Many service personnel find it difficult to speak about their problem, even to professionals, and this is were Combat Stress comes to their aid, many of the counsellors are ex military and "speak the same language" and relate to the problems, so the ex "Squaddie" relaxes and then they are able to gain their trust and encourage them to get the help they so badly need. Combat Stress have residential homes where people can go to for help for either a long or short stay. It all takes time, commitment and patience but they can be helped return to a normal life once more.
It has always been the case that when ex servicemen and women who need to seek medical attention, GP or hospital, they should mention that they are a military Veteran, whether 25 85 or anywhere in between, and they should receive treatment quickly. Many doctors surgeries have information to this effect, so if you know of any Veterans, do mention this as they may not know.
We also had Padre Nathan King of The Royal Welsh, (he took over from Padre Simon Farmer), took the service. It was his 2nd visit to St Faiths, he had been to our very first meeting in 2010 when he was a TA Padre. He is now a Regular and will in fact be coming back to talk to us in February 2014 about his recent tour of duty in Afghanistan, so make a note in your diary and come along to hear of his experiences.
October 6th, 2013
Reporting from the Front Line
Have you ever wondered what being a British soldier serving in Afghanistan would be like? Working for 8 hours at a time in 40-45 degree heat carrying 60lbs of equipment, constantly on high alert both on and off duty, regularly coming under fire, not knowing who to trust, or what is around the next corner. All this and being thousands of miles from home and your loved ones. This was the insight that Padre Simon Farmer of The Royal Welsh gave when he spoke at our February meeting. An insight that is not always possible to see or comprehend when watching a news item or documentary.
Hearing on film with a commentary by somebody who has experienced this first hand, the very loud rapid gunfire which can happen at any point and many times while out on patrol, brings home just how real and scary being in that situation can be. Or in a patrol driving along an empty stretch
of road one way only to return a short time later to see a seemingly innocent white plastic bag lying at the road side that hadn't been there before. Only it turns out that it is definitely not innocent at all but an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) placed there after the convoy had passed through. The sharp eyes and experience of the commander in the lead vehicle saved the lives of his comrades by stopping the convoy, calling for the Bomb Disposal team to render the IED safe with a controlled explosion so that serious injury was averted. These are just a few examples of the dangers our servicemen/ women live with each day.
There are however other things that occur that are not so tangible but show that within all this danger God is present and watching over them and they have The Royal Welsh version of the loaves and fishes miracle. A number of soldiers had been without rations and the means to eat for a short while, their problem became known to Padre Simon and he set about doing something to rectify it. This included collecting together whatever food he could, this was about enough for some 15 people, and the means to turn it into a hot meal. He then asked how many he was to feed and the reply came back "46"! Undaunted he carried on and the last plateful of food was served to the 46th man! Miracles do still happen in the strangest of places.
With fear and high alert always on the agenda, the Padre and his church form a close bond with the soldiers. The church or "Shed" as it was known, is small and very basic but a much needed haven in a chaotic world. Padre Simon, a larger than life presence (he is over 6'6" tall), his calm manner, understanding, compassion and faith supported servicemen/women, British, Danish, American, as they joined with him for services, prayer, quiet contemplation and coffee. Prayer is a very powerful support in abnormal situations and for these men and women to know that there are small groups like ours, supporting and praying for both them and their families is much appreciated and gives the reassurance that they are not forgotten.
On a much happier note, Padre Simon, a keen yachtsmen, is taking a group of servicemen recovering from injury sailing as part of their rehabilitation and I thought that it would be rather nice if we could raise some funds to help them, so a couple of ideas are being explored and as soon as a decision has been reached an announcement will be made. So as the saying goes......watch this space! In fact - see below! Ed. May 29th, 2013
Also for those who don’t already know, our tree collection bucket at last December’s Christmas Tree Festival raised £150 and the retiring collection at the Festival Carol Service raised £310, which has been divided equally between the three charities we support, Combat Stress, BLESMA and UK Forces Support, so "Thank You" to all gave so generously: it is much appreciated.
The Sailing Soldiers
At an earlier visit to our Services Support Group, army Padre Simon Farmer told us about a projected scheme to take a party of wounded and disabled servicemen on a sailing trip. We raised money to go towards the cost of the expedition, and what follow is the padre's account, in a letter to Eunice Little, of the highly successful scheme, some photos of the expedition (Simon Farmer is the final one!) and a newspaper account from Dubrovnik.
Thank you so much for your prayers. We all arrived home safely. It was an amazing trip - one of the best things I have ever done in the army. God was clearly in the trip. That Thursday night before we left on the Friday I sensed God working in the life of Fusilier Shaun Stocker - not only having lost two legs above the knee, was blind in both eyes for 8 months but now has some very little sight in one eye but both ear drums got blown and mouth and nose were torn in the blast and face rebuilt and one arm was mashed too! Shaun decided he wasn’t coming at the last minute as he didn’t want to be a burden to the yacht and the crew but he had the courage to phone me and after a long chat changed his mind within an hour or two of being picked up. He had to come without legs as his new legs were not ready! Thank God for intervening as he had the time of his life, and said it was the best thing he had done in 3 years since being blown up.
So although few words may have been spoken by way of me unravelling the gospel messages in a more traditional way there was something profound in me having a chance to love these guys and listening to their stories as skipper and padre! In fact they all chose to call me padre rather than skipper or Simon and loved introducing me as their padre to the young friends they met along the way! Even in the night clubs! It was another Emmaus Road type adventure.
The trip had its moments - 30 knots of wind put us all under pressure! But it was great fun too as the boat heeled over. At one point two friends (soldiers) fell out big time, the air went blue for 90 minutes and you could tell the pressure of losing limbs and life stressors being one of the causes. Another soldier shared his anger at the care one of his friends he felt didn’t receive. Others were becoming really positive about their future. The trip was hugely successful in all sorts of ways and for some I pray may have a deep long term effect.
The boys had opportunity to try lots of new things, not least learning to sail, but also fishing, kayaking, cliff jumping, seeing dolphins, cultural visits. With your help I was even able to buy them all oysters and let them try such delicacies, with some white wine to wash them down which they all enjoyed! We found a place where they were farmed - so we had lots of new experiences.
The nurse sadly had her granny suddenly die while we were sailing. My first mate broke his toe but apart from that we all got back safely. They were touched that people were praying for them.
So many thanks for your prayers. I am now at Headley Court writing this surrounded by the injured soldiers, but can see first-hand the care they receive from our rehab teams and doctors. It is quite extraordinary seeing all these people with missing limbs and traumatised lives. What a privilege to live alongside some of the injured for a few days and pray for them. Many found that they could open up in the safe setting that was created on the boat and one even said he was going to try church when he got home.
The soldiers had been on a tour of duty in Afghanistan last year and of the crew eight of them had been injured. “I started to think about this trip during a six and a half month tour in Afghanistan last year. I was working closely with the doctors and saw many of the injured who came through our medic centre. It came to one night that we had to give something back to these brave men,” commented Rev Farmer.
The 1st Battalion Royal Welsh, based in Chester, is one of the new large infantry regiments of the British Army and has served with distinction in various conflicts. With assistance of the Help for Heroes charity, as well as other UK charities, money was raised to take the injured soldiers from the 1st Welsh on a sailing trip in Dubrovnik.
The Reverend Simon Farmer, who is a keen sailor, is the official skipper onboard, with Captain Pete Hayward his first mate. “I love sailing, especially in this part of the world, I’ve been to Dubrovnik three times before and always had a great time,” added Rev Farmer. “It’s taken a lot of courage for these guys to come along on this sailing trip and I’m sure it will be a learning curve for all of them, I am sure they’ll have a lot of fun,” said Rev Farmer. Adding that “I’d also like to say thank you to Gatwick Airport and Sunsail for organising the First Class Lounge at Gatwick for the guys, that really was the perfect start to their holiday.”
The trip was organised through the yacht charter and sailing holiday specialist Sunsail, and Keith Harvey, the base manager of Sunsail Dubrovnik, commented that “it was great to see the guys enjoying themselves, I’m sure they’ll have an adventure that they’ll never forget.”Mark Thomas, April 28, 2013
Earlier reports from the Services Family Support Group
With the Christmas Tree Festival in full swing, Wednesday loomed and as this was the night for the Service Families Support groups monthly meeting what better way to hold this than to have a Carol Service with Military Band. The church looked stunning with all the beautifully decorated trees. Once again our tree was decorated with the photographs of the service personnel who have sadly lost their lives in the last 10 years in Afghanistan. Sadly there was an increase in their number this year bringing the total to 390. Christmas will not be the same this year for 45 families who have lost
loved ones in the 12 months from December 2010 - 2011.
After a flurry of phone calls and e-mails to get the Military band in place, members of Merchant Taylors? cadet force to act as stewards, carol sheets printed, refreshments in the form of industrial quantities of shortbread and mince pies made we were ready to go!
And what an evening we had! The band arrived first, all 18 members, with a percussion section this year and a new Bandmaster. They began to tune up before playing an introductory medley of Christmas tunes as people started to arrive. So with 100-120 people sitting comfortably the service began. After a number of carols and readings, Padre Cole Maynard led the prayers asking us to remember the families of the 9,500 service personnel who will be away from their loved ones this Christmas. The carols continued to the superb accompaniment of the band, and the service ended
with the band playing a wonderful compilation of the carols we had sung. Refreshments followed to end a truly wonderful evening and a lovely start to the Christmas season.
As for 2012, the group will continue to meet on the first Wednesday of each month, 7.30 pm – 9.00 pm, in church, to which all are welcome. We are hoping to arrange for speakers to come along to some of these meetings to talk about the different types of support given to servicemen and women and their families and also how the servicemen/women are helping to rebuild the infra-structure in Afghanistan and other places around the world. So if you would like to hear more and also give your support please come along and join us. Watch for the information about these meetings.
Thank you all for the support that you continue to give and may I wish you a joyful Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
What we have been doing in recent months...
the success of the Carol Service in December, our
meetings have started once more for 2012 and for the
February meeting we had a young Royal Marine as our
guest speaker. Andy joined the Marines at 16 and has
seen service in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and it
was while serving in Afghanistan that he was
seriously wounded and it was this experience he
was out on a routine patrol when the explosion
occurred causing his injuries. He remembers the
shock of the explosion and the treatment
he received from the medics on site before he
was ‘cas-evacced’ out of the danger zone. His next
memory was two weeks later waking up in hospital
in England and seeing his father at his
bedside. The extent of the injuries to his
right foot and leg were severe, but with the
advances in medical science today the doctors
thought that there was a chance that they could be
saved. Andy was prepared to accept the risk
and treatment continued on his foot and other
followed many months of hospital treatment in
Birmingham and then at Hedley Court
Re-rehabilitation Centre, but progress didn’t go to
plan with Andy finding it particularly
difficult watching other servicemen who had had
amputations improving, their lives returning to some
form of normality and his wasn’t. So after a great
deal of thought Andy decided to have an amputation
of his right foot and lower right leg. A very
difficult decision for anyone to make, but extremely
hard when you are only 23 years old, more so knowing
that it would mean the end of his military career as
he would no longer be able to fulfil his military
more Andy underwent surgery, followed by more
re-hab, but this time once his prosthetic limb was
fitted he could pick up his life again, even playing
football! He now preparing for the next stage
in his life very positively and with great
confidence. This has come about because of his
own determination and the help of very dedicated
people within the armed forces and outside,
particularly the charity “Buddy-Buddy”.
to Andy speaking of his experiences in such a
forthright and positive manner, his hopes of a
future career telling others of how he has overcome
adversity and how they can too, was humbling,
thought-provoking and exhilarating, showing just how
important it is for servicemen and women, together
with their families, to know that support is there
for them in many ways, not least in the prayers we
is just the first of the people that we hope to get
to come along to speak of their experiences either
during their deployment or about the charities they
represent working with the forces, so watch for the
notices as when they will take place for you are ALL
welcome to come along and join with us.
Our next meeting is on Wednesday 14th March, when we will be celebrating our 2nd anniversary as a group, It hardly seems two years since we started this venture!
BLESMA and Combat Stress (Carol Service) £71 each
Thank you all again for your support,
Thank you all again for your support,
Carols at Christmas
Each year recently St Faith's has hosted a spectacular Christmas Tree Festival, with the church bedecked with up to 50 trees, each decorated and lit by local and national organisations and charities to raise money for their various good causes. Our Support Group has been involved in sponsoring a tree for forces' charities each year, and for the December 2011 Festival we were able also to provide a splendid service of carols and prayers accompanied by a military band. As the pictures show, this was very well-attended and greatly appreciated. Afterwards, there were refreshments and an opportunity to light candles in memory of those whose lives have been lost in action.
The Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund (registered Charity 1140555)
The LPMF has been set up with the intention of placing a permanent memorial to the men who joined as volunteers at the outbreak of war in August 1914 and who went on to serve with distinction throughout the war. These men were not regular soldiers but were office workers/shipping clerks/bus drivers/shop assistants etc.
The Pals were set up into four battalions, the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th battalions of the Kings (Liverpool) regiment. They fought in some of the most fierce battles of the war: Somme, Arras, Passchendaele and over 2800 were never to return home.
We hope to have a memorial in place in Liverpool City Centre by November 2015 which is the 100th anniversary of the Pals leaving England to sail to France to join the war. We have the Duke of Westminster and Lord Derby as our patrons and we hope to raise sufficient funds from the public and Business Community in Liverpool to repay the debt we owe these men.
Also as part of our Charity status we are conducting extensive research into each and every Pal who died in service and we would welcome any information people may have with regard to any family member who may have been a Liverpool Pal. We are visiting schools/workplace/church memorials in order to build up a picture of the men who made up the Pals Battalions.
We are also willing to give talks on the Pals to any organisation who may have an interest and also to assist school children with their studies.
Further details can be found on
our website at http://www.theliverpoolpalsmemorialfund.com