A return to Tedworth House.

It’s been a little while since I last wrote anything on my Blog. I have not been doing a great deal of interest truth be known as it has just been normal run of mill stuff but there have been a couple of things that I’ll share with you.

I e mailed the Radio City tower in Liverpool to request permission to abseil from there, I had been told about it by a gentleman that I met on the dig in Cyprus. I need to abseil from somewhere that does not involve me having to keep myself away from a building and so this tower would have been ideal. I was hoping to receive an e mail back from them in the not too distant future but instead I received a phone call from them. I was taken aback by the call when they told me who it was but also the fact that it had been only a couple of hours since I had e mailed the question to them. The lady who called had a very chirpy and upbeat voice, typical of a sales person or someone connected to making calls from a radio station and the way she was talking I was secretly hopeful that the call was going to be a “Yes” to my request. What an amazing place to be able to do it from, especially from a fundraising point of view because they would actually be broadcasting whilst the abseil was going on. Unfortunately though, the answer was no. They don’t own the tower and so they were not able to grant the permission, they were able to forward the e mail to the owners of the building but did tell me that no one so far has been given permission due to the requirement to close off an area of streets for health and safety reasons. A real blow and not a good start to my fundraising efforts for this year. Last year was obviously not good for the fundraising either as my abseil took a long time to get an answer and after all of the waiting, permission was not granted. This year though I have a couple of things to do and so if the abseil falls on its arse again, I will definitely have the second thing. Watch this space as it is going to be a challenge which I am really looking forward to, and will be a test of equipment and team work.

I received an e mail from the disabled flying scholarship to inform me that I have been short listed for interviews. It was such a nice surprise and really lifted me; I could not help but smile about it. This is of course just for interviews and it may well turn out that I am unable to lift myself sufficiently to transfer in to an aircraft which would clearly render me unable to continue through the remaining interview process but I really hope that it goes smoothly for me. If I am unsuccessful though I will still have the knowledge that I was chosen from a year’s worth of applicants for the short list and to the interview stages. I am just waiting for the confirmation from Terrain Hopper for the delivery date of my Overlander 4. I am really excited about this, I want so much to be able to get out with my kids and play on it. We will take the dog out and enjoy the freedom that it will give, which I will of course share with you.

On Wednesday I returned to Tedworth House in the afternoon. The weather was shocking as has become the norm for the last eight weeks or so in Somerset and indeed I had to call ahead to see that it was accessible as the road only two and a bit miles from my home had been closed due to the river swelling to breaking point, breaching the bridge and covering the road making it impassable. Still the rain emptied down from the black sky and mixed with the high winds had also closed the road to Taunton, itself flooded, but closed due to a tree being blown down across the road making it impossible to exit the roundabout. Things were not looking good but I had been told by Tedworth House that the roads leading to them were clear and indeed it had stopped raining and had not started again some three hours on. I had therefore decided to make my way there ready for a talk that we would be giving to the residents at 7 in the evening about Op Nightingale. Many do not know of its existence or what it is about, furthermore they don’t know that they are eligible to take part and that there are opportunities that can develop from the Op Nightingale including placements and in some cases if the person is willing to work at it, a degree. It was a real pleasure to be attending the talk with some friends that I have met through Op Nightingale. Steve, Paul and Richard. I can honestly say that it is the people that make it, they are the reason that you want to go on more digs as you will talk and take the piss out of each other like you had seen them only the day before, in truth though it has been over three or four months since I saw them. Op Nightingale gives so much and yet asks for so little. It gives you the opportunity to get out of the normal run of the mill day and do something completely different. It gives you the opportunity to excavate skeletons, field guns or aircraft to name a few things. It gives you chances to look for such a variety of different things in a variety of different locations and so we were at Tedworth House to let people know about it. It went quite well I thought, Richard spoke very well and kept the information to the point without running on and on. In total time I think it was around forty five minutes which was perfect for getting the information across without the audience losing interest.

Aside from the Op Nightingale talk I was really looking forward to seeing two people who were there when I stayed a couple of weeks ago. I met quite a few people during my stay but there were two people in particular that I got on really well with and now I am fortunate enough to have them as friends, Lee and Fiona. I wanted to get to Tedworth slightly early so that I may be able to meet them and see how they were both doing. I had got my room key and signed the relevant paperwork as I would be staying over for the night and took my overnight bag to my room. The room was directly opposite the room I had been in for my two week stay which it turned out was occupied by Paul, my friend from Op Nightingale. With my bag dropped off I headed for the library to get a brew but quickly bumped into Amy who had been my support worker during my stay, we made our way to one of the interview rooms for a chat to see how things were going and to talk about some of the things that she had been helping with. It was really nice to chat and to see that I was indeed not on my own dealing with things. I know that I had not been on my own per se as I had my Wife but the things that Amy and the Tedworth crew were assisting with were things that we had not had any joy of sorting. Our chat finished I headed over to the library to get the brew I had intended to get earlier but before I got there a familiar voice said; “There he is look!” Almost immediately Lee was standing in front of me, a massive smile on his face which was great to see. We chatted about how things were and things he had been up to and after a short while he went off to shower in readiness for tea and the evening ahead. Being as it was indeed time for tea, I met up with Paul, Richard and Steve and we went in to the dining area, I was ready for the food and was really looking forward to it and having made my choice and munched it back, it was just as good as I remembered.

I got up and squared my stuff away and having sorted myself out I headed over to breakfast, it was really nice to have a full English again for breakfast but I’m not sure that it would do me any good to be having one daily for the rest of my days. I spent a little time with Lee again having had a good talk after the Op Nightingale presentation and then had a cuppa with Amy again. It was in the cafe that I was fortunate enough to briefly see my psychologist/councillor lady and my second support worker from my stay, Lisa. I very, very briefly saw Fiona also as she had to dive off for an appointment. It would have been nice to chat for longer but I know how it is at Tedworth and if you have managed to get an appointment with someone then you have to take it. I made a point of heading over to the gym building while I was there as well as it was the winter games. I had been invited to join in but I did not have the time as it was the day that my Son would be returning from his first school trip that he had stayed away and I wanted to be there for when he got back. Having tracked down Lee and a few other people that I wanted to say goodbye to, I signed my door key back in and went out to my car, in the bloody snow. Snow, really? The weather on the way back was varied but on the whole not too bad, certainly not as bad as it had been on the way up. I arrived back at the bungalow with an hour or so before we had to go and collect my Son from his school trip which was just enough time to grab a brew before we loaded back in to the car and headed to the school. My Son had such a huge smile on his face and did not stop talking about his time away for most of the evening, I had been a little worried as children are noticing more now that he is different due to his learning difficulties. His premature birth, (born at 28 weeks), has presented him with many problems through his life so far and his learning difficulties mixed with his obvious immaturity make him an easy target. Thankfully though he had no troubles on his trip away, had this not been the case, it could have had such a devastating effect on his development and wanting to go away again.

You will remember that during my stay at Tedworth House we had a film crew there, not to film me obviously, but to film for a programme called Country File. Well, this episode that was being filmed is on air this week. Today in fact (Sunday 16th February) and will be on BBC1 at 7 o’clock in the evening so have a look and see what the wildlife project is doing for the injured that reside at Tedworth House and see the House itself. I am unsure of how much filming was done with regards to the house but it will show you what some of the money donated to Help for Heroes is doing, and having been someone who has fund raised for them and actually benefitted from the funds by way of Tedworth House I can assure you that you will be more than impressed. So thanks to those who have given and Tedworth House (H4H) for giving to me. So remember; BBC1, COUNTRY FILE, 19.00HRS (7 PM) TONIGHT, SUNDAY 16TH FEBRUAURY.

And so that brings us to Friday; Valentine’s day. For most this would be a day of flowers and cards, chocolates and candle lit meals. For those who knew and served with a certain young man though this would also be a day where we would remember one of our fallen Brethren. It was four years ago, Valentine’s day 2010, in Helmand Province Afghanistan that Rifleman Mark “Marshy” Marshall was tragically taken from his family, friends, work colleagues and this Earth when he was killed in action. The third member of our Battalion to have been killed doing the job we trained to do in the country we had all volunteered to go to and do it in. His smile and cheeky face lives on in the memories of those who had the fortune to have met him.





Goodnight all.


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