Membership Operations Director (East)Richie Puttock Writes:
5 years ago, the Royal Marines Club who are now a virtual branch of the RMA commenced a “winter deployment” for some of our wounded and injured Royal Marines and their families by taking them to Otta in Norway.
After three successful years in Norway, 2020 saw us fall foul of the global pandemic and the trip had to be cancelled. Due to the ongoing concerns and uncertainty surrounding travel issues and entering other countries, the RM Club and the Charity took the decision that in 2021 families selected would be hosted at Fort William in Scotland for 6 days of winter themed fun, combined with some downtime for the adults and kids.
The instructor element of the deployment arrived at the Ben Nevis Hotel in Fort William on Thursday 2nd December and then spent the next 48 hours ensuring that all the activities we had planned were still viable and able to take place. The first of the families arrived about lunchtime on the Saturday and we had our full complement of families and individuals by about 2100. The Sunday was a relaxed day to get the journey to the Highlands out of everyone’s systems but we did offer all of the families the opportunity to travel to the Glenfinnan viaduct (of Harry Potter fame) for a walk and leg stretch. Fort William was also available for those families who wished to have a mooch around the town.
Monday consisted of Ten Pin Bowling, walking and mountain biking for those that wished to with a group evening meal organised each night. Tuesday saw us take the group on a Loch Ness tour, which was great as we had the boat for our exclusive use and the families were very well hosted by the crew. We may have even seen the Loch Ness monster but it turned out that it was Ray Mead (RM Club Ops guru) who was just looking over the side of the boat!
That afternoon saw us pay our respects at the Spean Bridge Memorial where we were treated to some “proper” Scottish winter weather. We were also escorted to the memorial by two police motorbikes courtesy of former RM officer, and now senior police officer Conrad Trickett…..thanks Conrad, the boys were brilliant.
Wednesday was another easy day with a visit to the local distillery and then the Christmas dinner in the evening. We paid our respects to absent friends and we were also delighted to be joined by members of the Highland branch who made the trip from Inverness to join us. A great night was had by all and there were some sore heads on display for the Thursday morning.
Thursday saw us all head off to Glencoe for a mornings sledging, everyone got right into the spirit of things and after the sledging, a mass snowball fight broke out where there were no winners…………..just survivors!!
Friday morning saw us all say our farewells and start to make our way back to whence we came. A fantastic time was had by all, friendships were made and renewed and we were brilliantly hosted by Andrew Liddle and his team at the Ben Nevis hotel.
Huge thanks also must be given to all of the instructors who gave up their time, you’re a superb bunch of people and the trip wouldn’t have been the same without you. We hope very much to be back in Norway for December 2022 but as a plan B Fort William came up trumps for all involved.