Remembrance Day 2022 – How we remember
As proud signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant and holders of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award, Medigold Health are honoured to count a large number of former military personnel among our colleagues.
With people and communities across the nation preparing to come together this weekend to pay tribute to all those who have given their lives in service to our country and remember their sacrifice, we wanted to give them the chance to tell us about what Remembrance Day means to them, personally, and why it holds such a special place in their hearts.
Here’s what they had to say.
Dr Kent Haworth
Chief Medical Officer
Remembrance Day is a poignant time for many people in this country. Past and present members of the armed forces, their friends, families, co-workers and many others, often with no direct military connection, remember the fallen, the critical role they played, collectively and as individuals, in protecting our nation and way of life, and their selfless sacrifice in safeguarding our tomorrows. In today’s troubled times, the value of this cannot be overstated. For me, taking a moment to pause in quiet, focused contemplation when the time comes is what’s important.
Photo – Dr Haworth on the right as the 2RRF Medical Officer with the Padre and the Int Officer at his medical section location in the hills above Pristina, Kosovo with KFOR on OP AGRICOLA sometime in early 2000.
I previously served in the British Army regular service for over 26 years (Infantry, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers) and for six years now I have been an Army Reservist, currently serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Combat Medical Technician Class 1.
I spent my regular service in the Corps of Drums / Machine Gun Platoon – so Remembrance Day has a very special place in my heart.
It is an honour to stand alongside former soldiers and civilians from across the country as we gather to remember the fallen, the young men and women who sacrificed so much for our great country, so that we could continue to enjoy the way of life and the freedom we have today.
Hearing the extract from Robert Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the fallen’ read out just before the last post is played is a really special moment.
They shall not grow, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
We will remember them
For me, it’s an opportunity to think of all the soldiers who were so young and in their prime, who gave their lives to protect our nation during the First and Second World Wars. People like my grandfather. He was 15 years old when he went to France. After being shot and sent home, he returned to the frontline in 1917 to do it all again, getting shot, losing a leg and ultimately being awarded the Military Medal and Bar. His bravery, like so many of his fellow soldiers, is mind-blowing.
It’s also a chance to remember all our men and women who have been sent into wars happening across the world throughout the last century, to defend those whose rights, freedoms and way of life have come under attack. Many of them have paid the ultimate price, while many more have returned with life-changing physical injuries and mental health issues such as PTSD. To me it’s hugely important that we remember the huge sacrifices they have made. I personally have lost two friends who died in the line of duty:
Sgt Simon Valentine –a highly professional soldier, a great leader and a genuinely cracking lad who was killed in action in Afghanistan on 15 August 2009.
And Drummer Lee Rigby, another fantastic young man and soldier who had a great sense of humour and was just an all-round nice person. Lee was murdered in London on 22 May 2013 in a truly evil and cowardly attack.
Neither Simon nor Lee will ever be forgotten, and I will be laying a cross for each of them this Sunday.
Occupational Health Nurse
Remembrance Day for me is when I get a chance to see old friends who I never get to see at any other time. This is the time when we all make a big effort to meet up and catch up and chat about old times. It is also a time to say farewell to those we have lost over the years and who are no longer with us.
Occupational Health Advisor
This is my grandson and like his mother and aunties before him, he was taught from an early age to respect Remembrance Day, not just for the friends I’ve lost but for all those who have sacrificed their lives to protect us. Here he wears my old Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) beret (I am retired from Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC)) and my miniature medals.
Chief Technical Officer
Like many people who have served in our armed forces, Remembrance Sunday has a special place in my heart. This year, along with my wife Laura (a former Naval Nurse), I will be joining the 10,000 other veterans who will parade in London at the Cenotaph. During my service, I was privileged to take part several times as one of the 12 Royal Marines Buglers who play the Last Post just before the two minutes’ silence.
The first time I did so was in 1988 when, as an 18 year old who had recently completed training, I performed at both the Festival of Remembrance and the Cenotaph. It was the following year though that the day took on a more deeply personal meaning for me. In 1989, I was based at Royal Marines Deal, which was attacked on 22nd September by an IRA Bomb. By the end of that pretty horrific day, we had lost ten friends and colleagues, with an eleventh dying a month later of his wounds. Playing the Last Post that year became much, much more personal for all of us. The day is chance to remember them, and all those who have fallen, and being part of the parade this year will be a real honour.
Occupational Health Advisor
I feel very strongly about Remembrance Day and have observed it since I was a young girl. My maternal grandfather William Saywell had served in World War I in France, and his brother Alfred was killed in France in 1917. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate at Ypres.
My maternal and paternal uncles (William, Jimmy and Ron) also served in the Royal Navy and Army in World War II. and later, my two cousins Roy and Ashley were both officers in The Royal Engineers. So you could say I was destined to be in the armed forces!
What sealed the deal was reading the story when I was younger of The Red and Green Life Machine by Surgeon Commander Rick Jolly, who set up a field hospital during The Falklands War in an old refrigeration shed (with an unexploded bomb in the roof!). I thought “That’s what I want to be part of.”
I joined the Royal Navy at 18 and did my nurse training at RNH Haslar in Gosport. We had Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) who came in regularly for medicals due to the terrible and inhumane treatment they had suffered in prisons in Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of the Pacific in WWII. Just after I qualified in 1990, I was seconded to RFA Argus. We set up a hospital on the ship and thankfully had only light casualties during The First Gulf War. We looked after Allied sailors and marines, some (from USS Tripoli and USS Princeton) with wounds from exploding mines, who were brought onboard by Sea King helicopters. One of the stretcher bearers was a bugler called Steve Way, who later became my husband and is now Medigold Health’s Chief Technical Officer.
I grew up in a house full of history books and WWII was described to me vividly by my mother Pat, who was evacuated in 1939 at the age of 11 from Essex, initially to Aldeburgh in Suffolk.
She told me about a pilot who was shot down and brought to shore by the RNLI. Sadly, he died of his wounds in the cottage hospital at Aldeburgh and his name appears on the roll in the lifeboat station.
Many years later, my father (who raised £10,000 for the RAF Association over 15 years of collections), found a library book about every single plane that took off from UK airfields during the war, and what happened to the planes and their crews. Many were shot down over the sea and some were never found. My mother wanted to know if the Aldeburgh pilot was listed.
Sure enough, he was. His name was Pilot Officer J.A. Peter Studd and coincidentally he was buried in a family plot a few miles from my parents’ home in Berkshire.
They found the grave and started to look after it at weekends. Dad would clean up the headstone and clear away growth and brambles. He started to look after the family plot too. He wrote to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission about Peter’s war grave headstone, as it had a large crack caused by a nearby tree root. They replaced and rededicated the stone.
One day we found a note left in a plastic bag asking who was the kind person who was looking after the grave. It was written by an elderly lady called Lavender Akroyd who lived in Devon and could only visit once a year. Peter was Lavender’s brother.
I wrote to Lavender and arranged for us all to meet up in 1997. It was truly memorable, and ever since we kept in touch. Lavender passed away in 2003, but I have become friends with Virginia, her daughter, and we remain in contact. Virginia still has the letter the Matron at Aldeburgh wrote to Peter’s mother after he died. Now that my parents have both sadly passed away, my sister Elly tries to visit Peter’s grave (shown in these photos) as often as she can.
Peter’s name is inscribed at The RAF Memorial at Runnymede. His is just one of thousands of stories of sacrifice and courage in the face of adversity, but carrying out this small act of remembrance throughout the year by visiting and maintaining his grave has been a way for me and my family to personally remember and honour all the other young lives lost so tragically so that Britain would not be invaded by the Nazis.
Remembrance Day is a chance for all of us to remember them publicly, together, and I feel that we should all take the time to dedicate just two minutes of silence in their memory. I am so delighted that this year I will have the opportunity to take part in the parade at the Cenotaph alongside Steve and pay my respects to Peter, and to all those who were lost in the World Wars and other wars since.
We’d like to thank all of our colleagues for sharing their poignant stories and thoughts and hope that they help you to contemplate what Remembrance means to you.
For more information about Remembrance Day, visit Remembrance | Get Involved | Royal British Legion
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