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Monday, 31st August 2009

H4H sees opening of the first Army Recovery Centre.....

The 17th August in Edinburgh saw the opening of the first Army Recovery Centre. This project, a joint venture between H4H, the Army and Erskine, is the first of its kind and a great step forward for the recovery of our wounded men and women.

 

Named the Mark Wright House after Cpl Mark Wright GC, PARA who died saving his patrol in a minefield near Kajaki in Helmand, it is a house named for a hero and will help other heroes. It is a fitting tribute to Mark, and his parents, Bob and Jem, were there to help with the ceremony. Thanks go to everyone in the Army, MOD and Erskine who has made this such a success. We are now looking forward to further houses and are in a race to get them built as soon as possible.

The H4H Rehabilitation Complex at Headley Court is coming on very well indeed and the steel framework is up and it is looking wonderful, we can’t wait to see that pool ready to swim in! There is no slacking off the pace at H4H who have over 8000 events registered as people respond to the call to do your bit  for the wounded. Well done everyone, you are doing a simply fantastic job and keep it up, we need that money!

Yesterday, Emma went to the printers at Frome to see the first pages of Gill Shaw’s superb book The Hero Inside come off the presses and came home full of admiration and enthusiasm. This book, the work of celebrity photographer and Rifleman’s Mum Gill Shaw and published by Andrew Johnston of Quiller Press, is quite simply a masterpiece and will be the book on everyone’s Christmas list this year. It launches on 17th September and the printers said they found it hard to concentrate as they kept wanting to read it as it went though the presses.... That’s a recommendation.

The new H4H website was launched last weekend. It has been a real labour of love for Ben and his team so we hope you will think it is worth all the hours of burning the midnight oil. Once that is up, we will be turning to the shop pages to make them even better.. Not to forget that you can now follow H4H on Twitter...so no rest for the IT team!

Thanks to everyone who has sponsored Team Parry for the Kilimanjaro climb in October. We are determined to do our best to get to the top and to raise as much as we can for our heroes so if you haven’t already sponsored us, please do on our Team Parry bmycharity page.. Thanks!

Finally, I have started to include some words from ‘Our man in Helmand’ in these newsletters. He is one of many thousands serving over there on our behalf but he speaks for them all. He is unable to send an email this month but he got through to his family by satellite phone and this extract from his Dad’s email sums it up. 
       

“He is currently in a small patrol base up on a hill, overlooking a few compounds and with views into a wadi. The base is very basic, four mud walls with a mast that has some sophisticated camera kit and a ISO (?) container from where they can see what the cameras cover. They oversee the local area from the four sangars (think castle turrets) and hope to build up a pattern of life and to prevent the enemy from moving along the wadi. They sleep on the ground and their kit fits into their back pack. While we talked there were a couple of bangs which he explained were ‘our’ mortars firing flares to illuminate the area in response to seeing some activity and later, he said had to go as one of his guns ‘was giving someone a warning’. Under the rules of engagement, if they see suspicious activity, such as someone digging in the wadi (likely to be the enemy planting an IED... mine), they can fire a warning shot.

The conditions are very basic, no helicopters so no mail, no fresh water, no fresh food. They lack knives and forks and cut plastic bottles in half to make cups. They can spare no water to shave so all have straggly beards, no loo paper and no showers, so they put up with the pong. They do have some flour so the soldiers are improvising and he says he had ‘pancakes’ this morning, cooked by a couple of the Fijians.

I have mentioned before that he has had 1 killed and 7 wounded in his platoon but he has been at many more incidents including one when “Yesterday the camp was attacked by RPG.  It sailed straight into the Mortar’s accommodation and we had 9 casualties.  I helped casevac one by stretcher into the cooking area.  Claret covered the floor as wounds were bandaged and ears were held together by team medics.  Dazed Riflemen stared blankly, unhearing due to burst ear drums.”. An incident like that never makes the news but he has been a part of it.

As parents we are so aware that our conversations over the sat phone are stilted, we are normally cut off at least twice and we have no idea when he may ring, sometimes once a week, sometimes a longer gap. When he does ring, we don’t know what he has just been through and sometimes it is after he has been involved in an incident, several times it has been when he has had blokes wounded or been in some sort of contact. We have no warning, the phone just rings, during supper, at work, while we are walking the dogs, and suddenly we are having a conversation with our son who has had to save someone’s life or is just needing a chat. Tonight was great, the line was clear, it only cut off twice and I could hear most of what he said. My daughter came home as we were talking and I handed over to hear them banter away in a way that I couldn’t hope to do. I would imagine that the few minutes of family slanging works better than any conversation with a concerned Dad!”

Thanks everyone,  for all your support and the efforts you have made to support our blokes. We at H4H are thinking of you, especially those who are serving over there and their loved ones who are back here, worried. We are all linked and focused on the desire to do something to help.. And we are, .. So keep going, keep fundraising, keep smiling and keep showing the blokes, the men and women of our Armed Forces, that you care.

Thank you
Bryn

 

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