Edition 32

This week, we’ve been hot-on-the-heels of the Veterans’ Minister, some of our fundraising champions have been running hot and cold, and there’s a great offer for readers of crime thrillers! 

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Veterans’ Minister applauds new initiative   

RMA – The Royal Marines Charity Chief Executive, Jonathan Ball, was delighted and honoured to welcome the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Rt Hon Johnny Mercer MP, to the second meeting of the Single Cap Badge Associations Network (SCAN) at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London last week.

The Minister addressed those representing 25 associations from all three Services, and others who made later presentations including those from the Office of Veterans Affairs (OVA), Blesma, Cobseo (Confederation of British Service Charities), Help for Heroes, ASDIC (Association of Service Drop-in Centres) and Northumbria University. 

In thanking RMA for being at the forefront of the initiative, the Minister stressed the importance of building pillars of support as a way to most effectively ensure the help available to the veteran community.

SCAN has been formed to enable and encourage mutual support, assist the improvement of each member association’s membership offer, and improve member participation through the exchange of information, ideas and best practice.

Those attending were united in agreeing on the importance of identifying common opportunities and challenges that are better tackled together, calling on Cobseo’s assistance where appropriate. SCAN will also act as a communication bridge between the Ministry of Defence, OVA and the communities of the member associations in striving to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran.

Walking the talk

Pictured above: Danny Egan, RMA Director of Health & Wellbeing (left) with Richard Swarbrick, one of our Trustees and also Head of Armed Forces Health Strategy and Partnerships. 

Our Health & Wellbeing team was also out and about this week in the presence of the Minister for Veterans, Johnny Mercer, attending the Annual Conference of the Veterans Trauma Network

The Minister spoke about the work being done to build clear pathways of veterans’ support across the UK, highlighting Op Courage as being the pioneer – a single clearly defined pathway for veterans to access world-class mental health care via the NHS in England and Wales. During its first year, it had 19,000 referrals. 

This initiative was followed most recently by the government’s launch of Op Fortitude over the Christmas period in addressing homelessness for some of the most vulnerable veterans.

You can read the Minister’s speech in full here.

The Veterans Trauma Network (VTN) is an NHS service accessed through GP referral, that provides specialist care and treatment to veterans who have physical health problems as a result of their time in the armed forces. |It is only available in England at the moment but owing to its success is being developed similarly across the devolved nations.

RMA – The Royal Marines Charity, alongside Defence Medical Welfare Service, Blesma and H4Hs, has been involved in the NHS VTN’s development from its inception and has an integral role in monthly Multi Disciplinary Team meetings to get the best outcomes for those in need of support.

Cold Dip Commando plunging to new heights!    

Fearless Tim Crossin, the utterly amazing ‘Cold Dip Commando’ living with a fourth cancer diagnosis, is on the home stretch with just six days left on the final leg of his 31 day challenge of taking 31 cold water dips  in 31 different locations around the UK during January.

He’s remained impressively undaunted by the freezing weather, snow and icy conditions he’s had to endure over the past couple of weeks as he gets ever closer to the final dip of this awesome challenge: and despite the extreme cold, he’s remained true to his pledge that “there will be no wet-suits worn by the ‘Cold Dip Commando’ just Budgie Smugglers and a smile, footwear and gloves optional.”!

Tim is fundraising for three charities, including RMA – The Royal Marines Charity and the challenge continues to test him to the limit. However, he remains resolute and above all, cheerful and at the time of writing is already close to having  raised £20,000, double his initial target!

Fellow Bootnecks, local cold water swimming clubs and regional media continue to join him at every stop as word gets around of this amazing feat of endurance. In Edinburgh, he was also joined by  members of the RM Band and some delighted veteran Royals even gave him a tour of the city aboard a motorised tricycle!  

And in Exmouth (Devon) this Saturday morning (28th January), we’ve heard that 561 Troop from 1988 will be taking the plunge with an honorary cold dip for Tim as an extra boost to his fabulous fundraising total.

Tim’s own final cold dip on 31st back home in Poole looks set to be a huge celebration of a welcome return to ‘warmer’ climes – and will mark the end of a truly personal triumph. 

26/01/2023  – 14.00h – Clacton-on-SeaWest Rd, Clacton-on-Sea 

27/01/2023  – 14.30h – Deal, Memorial  Bandstand

28/01/2023  – 14h00 – London NOTE NEW LOCATION to be confirmed (please check Cold Dip Commando website closer to time for new cold dip venue)

29/01/2023  – 14.00h  – Brighton, Rockwater Hove, Western Esplanade, Kingsway, Hove

30/01/2023  – 13.00h –  Portsmouth, Southsea – The Yomper

31/01/2023  – 13.00h  – Poole, Branksome Beach

Wick link to Commando Memorial

A few days before meeting up with ‘Cold Dip Commando’ Tim Crossin for his Loch Ness dip, some of the Bootnecks pictured above, together with other members from the RMA’s Highland branch, attended the unveiling of the Scott Sutherland plaque at the Wick Heritage Museum in Scotland (photo courtesy of Alan Hendry, Highland News).

The plaque was installed to honour sculptor Scott Sutherland who, born in the town in 1910, is best known for the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, along with many other renowned monuments.

The plaque is part of the Scott Sutherland Project’s Commando Memorial Heritage Trail, which will see plaques installed at various places associated with the sculptor, who died in 1984.

Enjoy reading crime thrillers?   

During  January and February, Simon Bowden – the son of John Bowden, retired Royal Marine Reservist Captain and former Naval officer from Devon – is most generously donating any profit made from the Amazon sales of his latest novel ‘Hidden By The Law (The Seth Hannen Series Book 1)’ to RMA – The Royal Marines Charity.

Simon, a retired Chief Super from Thames Valley Police, made this very kind offer through our North Devon Branch, explaining the sad background: “My father is currently in hospital, seriously unwell due to his lung fibrosis. Hopefully he will return home soon for palliative care as he reaches the last weeks of his life. I know that the RMA has been an important part of his life, and that he has taken part in many fundraisers.”

So, if you buy a copy in the next few weeks, you can not only indulge your passion and help raise funds for RMA – The Royal Marines Charity but also help honour one of the Charity’s ‘loyal North Devon Branch members and stalwart supporter of all things RM and RMA’, of whom – as Branch Chairman John Peel comments: “Despite having had medical issues for many years, JC has always been  front and centre and could always be relied on to come out with us fundraising for the Charity.”

Our sincerest thanks for this most wonderful gesture of support from John’s family and for giving us our own opportunity to pay a special tribute to this valued veteran and RMA Member.

Cheers to fab fundraisers

We’d like to give a huge shout out to fabulous fundraisers Moz and Tracy Tombs from The Foundry Arms in Poole. They recently paid in almost £1,700 to the Charity which takes their grand total over the last few years to £35,130.07 which is just absolutely incredible!

They’ve now left the pub to start a new adventure in Spain and so we’d like to say a huge thank you to them for their dedication in everything they’ve done for the Charity, for organising so many inspired events and, together with their loyal regulars, being such amazing supporters – it’s been hugely appreciated. We wish them every success with their exciting new life in the sun!