The Baton Goes to the Falklands

March 20th 2011

Alan with good friend, Commodore Tim Lowe RN, is going to the Falklands.  This trip has long been an ambition of Alan’s, he feels if the Baton should go anywhere its there.  Alan will be carrying the Baton whilst running the Stanley Marathon on Sunday March 20th, after the marathon Alan and Tim will take the Baton to as many memorials as possible and also hope to get the Falklands Schools involved in a Baton run.

Whilst carrying the Baton Alan will be representing Honiton Running Club of which he is President.  HRC is an exceptional East Devon Running Club with an extremely hard working, dedicated committee that offers something for all runners whatever their ability.

It should never be forgotten that 255 British service personnel died in the Falklands War, but it is estimated around 400 have taken their own lives since as a result of their experiences during the conflict, yes there is a framework of help for our servicemen and women who are suffering through their involvement in military engagements, but it could be much better.

It is a sobering thought, but perhaps we should reflect for a moment on how many have been affected in the same way by other wars without complete understanding?

In its humble way the Baton is a conscience and reminder of the life time effect on families and friends associated with the figures mentioned….The Baton’s presence in the Falklands is a mark of respect to all involved in the conflict, civilian as well as military and hopefully at the same time reassuring the brave Falkland Islanders that they are in our thoughts as well.

On his return Alan will be running the London Marathon with the Baton again, some effort in four weeks especially as he’s been fighting injury since July 2010 and training has been very limited.  If anyone would like to sponsor Alan for the Stanley Marathon and the runs to the memorials or the London Marathon then please click here.

Interview with FIRS

To hear Alan’s interview with the Falkland Islands Radio Station please click here.

Update From Alan – 24th March 2011

All’s going well here, the Islanders have been incredibly supportive of the Baton’s visit and offers of help have been overwhelming.

After an 18hr flight on landing at 06:00 Saturday 19th we were offered the facilities of the officers mess at Mount Pleasant to shower, breakfast and then get on our way towards Stanley. First stop was HMS CLYDE where we were warmly greeted by the ship’s captain, Carl Wiseman, and shown round the ship. After a brief chat about the Baton we were given lunch – the hospitality and interest shown by the crew was exceptional. From there en route to Stanley we visited 7 memorials at Fitzroy with the Baton, at the location we were joined by a young RAF chap and his partner who were there for the same very moving experience to see the place where the Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram were sunk.

The marathon went well on the 20th, clear blues skies, but with very strong head winds for two thirds of the run, which really sapped my strength, but I was happy to finish in under 5 hours. I had incredible support from Tim throughout the run and a young RAF member Kelvin Lea, who had never run any distance but thought he’d try, so kept me company all the way carrying the Baton as well. At 7.00pm we were invited to join the Cathedral service (that goes out to all the islands by radio) where the Baton was included in the service with an interview on the subject of the Baton and its aims.

Monday saw us out with the Baton at the remote Pembroke Point to visit the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR (a ship’s propeller) memorial, Hooker Point and the superb and new HMS GLAMORGAN memorial and finally a short yomp to Wireless Ridge to the 2 PARA memorial overlooking Stanley where we were joined by Geoff a 2 Para veteran from 1982. The afternoon was spent at the Senior School where Tim and I were invited to taIk to the schools assembly on the subject of the Baton, which was televised as part of an ongoing mini documentary of our visit, from the senior school on to the Junior school to do pretty much the same, both schools were presented with Baton pennants. In the evening all who took part in Sunday’s event were invited to the Islands Governors Residence, where we were pleased to hear the Governor mention the Baton’s visit but very surprised to hear that I’d cut his and his family’s hair in the past.

Tuesday Tim and I, joined by fellow marathon runner Hugh Marsden from Exmouth and Teslin Barkman from the Penguin News ran with a team from the Junior School to the Senior School where we were joined with a team of seniors to run to the Mount Tumbledown memorial overlooking Stanley and the scene of very fierce fighting in 1982. The run finished with a short climb and in total was a good 8 miles, which helped to stretch our legs from Sunday. On completing the run at the Stanley Memorial I gave out inscribed Baton medals to all the children and teachers who took part, the feedback from the schools has been wonderful and very encouraging. In the afternoon Tim and I had a private two hour meeting with the Governor, where I presented pennants from the people of Honiton and from the Baton.

Wednesday and at the time of writing this on Sea Lion Island, the flight over by an Islander was interesting, to see Albatross skimming the waves below you as well as other birds the stuff of documentaries. On landing we immediately made our way with the help of Jenny, the manager of the Sea Lion Lodge, to the HMS SHEFFIELD memorial, there to lay the Wooden Pebble in memory of Darryl Cope. The location of the memorial and reason why we were there became intensely moving, but our duty was done with a moments silence as we looked out to the sea beyond.

We have enjoyed so much support and encouragement whilst in the Falklands that it will be hard to say goodbye, but long term friendships have undoubtedly been forged, now I’m looking forward to seeing what the next week in this amazing place will reveal. Finally I must mention and thank everyone who have helped us to achieve our aims and for the many messages of support.

Darryl Cope…a special request

March 2011

Alan was delighted to meet Marge Cope, who had a special request for his Falklands trip.  Marge asked if it would be possible to take a wooden pebble down to the Falklands, with a suitable inscription from the family, to be placed on the HMS SHEFFIELD memorial, a friend and client of Alan’s, Col Richard Sidwell RM immediately offered to help and overnight turned a beautiful piece of East Devon Oak as a gift to Marge and her family and as a lasting memory to Daryl.

Darryl (known as Daz) was a catering assistant aboard HMS SHEFFIELD, a Type 22 destroyer, when it was struck by an Exocet missile at around 10am on May 4, 1982.  Darryl was one of 20 people to die, most of them were in the galley area, the ship later sunk. Daz joined the Royal Navy at 16-and-a-half and died just short of his 21st birthday.

This story was also covered by the Midweek Herald in Honiton, please click here to see the article.

Also, a sincere thanks to Andy Billings of Honiton Photographic a marvellous supporter of the Baton from its beginning and who took the photo and Xavier Haynes of Honiton’s Oak Fields Furniture for inlaying and attaching the memorial plates on Darryl’s pebble again Xavier an enthusiastic supporter from the start and who made the four oak stands for the batons.