This weekend is crunch time. I am setting off with the group of injured soldiers and veterans for Ecuador. Over 16 days we will climb summits including the highest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi.
It will be a gruelling expedition, but it is for a worthy cause. Along with the British Legion, we aim to raise £10,000 for the Battle Back centre. The centre rehabilitates injured armed forces personnel both physically and psychologically, and three members of the team have directly benefitted from their important work.
The team will include Lyndon Chatting-Walters, who spent seven years with 9 Parachute Squadron. He was wounded in an ambush in Afghanistan in 2008, before bravely returning back for another tour in 2010. Private Paul Hunter was also injured in Afghanistan whilst serving with the Mercian Regiment. An improvised explosive device went off whilst he was on patrol, causing severe damage to both of his legs. Trooper Luke Bartle escaped injury in Afghanistan with the Royal Dragoon Guards, but fell ill whilst in Kenya with incapacitating bowel disease.
All three speak very highly of the British Legion and the Battle Back centre which has played a key part in their recovery. I have written before that this country takes too many people for granted – former soldiers, ex-miners, NHS staff. Rehabilitation for armed forces personnel is absolutely crucial.
Any readers that want to support our cause can do so by texting the code TRBL93 and an amount (either £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to phone number 70070.
At Worksop Town Hall last week schoolchildren from Worksop and the rest of Bassetlaw did themselves proud in front of members of the national press, local dignitaries and representatives from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. I had written directly to local primary school children to ask them to examine the condition of their local war graves, as I am concerned that too many are not kept in an appropriate state.
The pupils rose to the challenge very well, and presented the results of their audit so convincingly that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has agreed to clean up a number of war graves in Bassetlaw. A fantastic result – well done to all the primary schools involved.
The final word this week must go to retiring Councillors Brian Hopkinson, Frank Hart and Shirley Toms. Together they have given years of service to their local communities, and I would like to thank them for all their work. Councillors contribute a lot to Bassetlaw in various ways and I am keen to make sure that this is not overlooked.