Educated at Ardingly College, West Sussex, I took a gap year to work and travel to Kenya and S Africa for 18 months. On my return I joined the Army and was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst into The Royal Anglian Regiment. I served for 26 years reaching the rank of Lt Col having seen operational active service in Northern Ireland and Dhofar Oman. My last appointment in the Army was commanding a Reserve Force Infantry Battalion based in Leicester and covering 5 counties in the East Midlands.
On retiring from the Army aged 47 I was appointed as CEO of a local charity in Leicester whose role was to facilitate and encourage rural communities to take ownership of their own services and facilities through volunteering. I was responsible for gaining 6 National Lottery Grants for the charity totalling nearly £2m. In 2013 I gained a Heritage Lottery Grant to support communities in their own commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of WW1 and this is where the presentation “Sacrifice and Remembrance” was born.
After 18 years in this role I retired and now live in Southsea, Hants where my wife, Jane, is Headmistress of Portsmouth High School for Girls – a GDST school. We have 3 children- two are teachers and one a doctor. My interests include golf, jogging, tennis and researching and delivering these presentations on a voluntary basis with any donations received going to my nominated charity “Combat Stress” – the veterans mental health charity. These presentations have to date been given to 5,600 people with over 18 bookings already registered up to November 2018.
This presentation helps to commemorate the 100th anniversary period of WW1 and was supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The presentation is not about the rights or wrongs of going to war but the sacrifice made and how that sacrifice is commemorated through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). It tells about the scale of sacrifice, the personalities involved in establishing the CWGC, the founding principles of the organisation, stories behind some of the headstones, recent work of the CWGC in particular the building of a new cemetery at Fromelles Pheasant Wood to commemorate primarily 250 Australian soldiers recently discovered in a mass grave, and how we now remember the fallen in recent conflicts.
This presentation tracks the evolution of The Poppy in remembrance from Capt John McCrae iconic poem "In Flanders Fields" to Moina Michael's promotion of the flower in America to Anna Guerin's idea of encouraging French widows and their children to make the flower with the proceeds raised returning to help them lead their lives, to Major George Howson's establishing the Poppy Factory. The involvement of British Troops in Afghanistan where they once again patrolled through fields of poppies this time the Opium poppy is mentioned. The presentation covers the controversies surrounding the poppy, and how remembrance may be conducted in the future. It concludes with the display "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" at the Tower of London.
With the other presentations that I deliver touching more often than not on the sacrifice and courage of so many of our service personnel , this presentation tells the story of the Victoria Cross. The personal involvement of Queen Victoria in the medal's conception is highlighted. The criteria for the award is outlined with expanation given of other similar awards (Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, George Cross and George Medal) outlined with examples of awards of these to military and civilians. The role of Hancocks, the London jeweller, in making the medal is covered. Stories of VC awards in WW1, WW2, Korea, Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan are covered. The presentation finishes with Lord Ashcrofts VC collection housed in the Imperial War Museum.
This presentation moves away from the stories behind individual headstones for the fallen and highlights those national memorials which commemorate the scale of the sacrifice in particular WW1 and WW2. Theipval Memorial, the memorial for the missing in the Battle of the Somme, is highlighted first. Following on from this iconic Lutyens memorial the Cenotaph in London another one of his creations is covered. The story behind the Tomb of the Unknown Warrrior in Westminster Abbey which was unveiled on the same day as the Cenotaph is described. Other memorials covered include Iwo Jima and Vietnam Memorials in Washington, Bomber Command Memorial in London, Ring of Remembrance in Northern France and finally the Armed Forces War Memorial at Alweras in Staffordshire.
This new presentation which will be available from 1st February 2018 looks back at different aspects of this war from all sides ; the political dimension, the way the campaign was fought by the Americans and Vietcong, key battles including Diem Bien Phu and Hamburger Hill, war crimes at My Lai and Hue, the role of the media, public demonstrations against the war, Kent University shooting, homecomings, the scale of the sacrifice and Vietnam today
Loughborough Grammar School
Southampton Division of The National Trust
Sherborne St Johns Fellowship
Rotary Club of Southampton West
Upper Broughton History Group
Portsmouth Grammar School
Lyndhurst Rotary Club
Stubbington Belles W.I
St Johns College Southsea
St Swithuns School, Winchester