"There, But Not There"

I was commissioned by the staff @ Help For Heroes, Endeavour in Devonport to write a poem for their promotional campaign for the "Tommy" figures on sale in November 2018, after being a beneficiary of their valuable recovery assistance since January 2015.

I was so honoured to be asked, and also very surprised when they asked me to narrate the poem for the video, which then led to them asking me to star in the video, along with my daughter Piper and my son Kyle (just the backs of their heads, of course).

I was so proud to be able to sit alongside them on the bench in the H4H "Hero Garden" at H.M.S. Drake, and be part of something that I truly believe in, and that is defending and caring for our Veterans after they took an oath to defend and to care for their country.



I wrote this poem for the Remembrance Day 2019 at the Help For Heroes Plymouth Recovery Centre, which at the time was being used for serving members of the H.M. Armed Forces, as well as Veterans.

Once again I was asked to write a poem, yet this time it was to be read out at the Remembrance service being held in the large lobby of H4H Endeavour Recovery Centre within H.M.S. DRAKE in Devonport, Home of the Royal Navy in the south west of the U.K.

Once again it was "ME" who was going to be performing the reading of the poem, which at that time gave me a bit of a "brown trouser moment" as you can imagine, sending my anxiety levels to a whole new high. Never one to really give in (especially not wanting to let anyone down, myself included) I cracked on and wrote this next poem called "Giving"

On the day I did manage to read the poem out loud to what was a gathering of around 100 people. Stood by my side was Nigel (Larry) Holmes, a former Royal Marine and now one of the Case Managers at H4H Devonport. He was there to make sure I actually kept breathing during my narration, so after every 2 lines he would whisper in my ear "and breathe." This kept the blood flowing, and kept me upright, however it could never stop the uncontrollable shaking of my legs, which I get at any form of Remembrance Service.
I did wobble in the middle of the poem and had to take few seconds to compose myself as it became a bit too much for me, yet I managed to carry on and finish. 

I was totally amazed by the number of friends and strangers who came up to me afterwards, shook my hand and congratulated me on the poem, and how I persevered and read it all out.


The first light of dawn
Unveils the sadness
The battlefield scars
from all of the madness.

That flicker of sunlight
Beyond the smoke plumes
Drifting across trenches
otherwise known as tombs.

Where lay all the bodies
Of many a young soldier
Asked why they joined up?
I'm sure they'd have told ya.

To serve King and country
To protect one and all
From the Evil against us
They were willing to fall.

So many in numbers
Like lambs to the slaughter
They gave up their lives for
Mum, Dad, Son and Daughter.

Just doing their duty
They fought side by side
Stranded in no man's land
With nowhere to hide.

The disease and the sickness
Took many as well
As the millions of bullets
That rained down from hell.

It's incomprehensible
Unless you were there
To imagine the horror
These *"Sin-eaters" had to bear.

It's November again
And all that we ask
That you dig in your pockets
To help with the task.

Of supporting our veterans
Their families as well
So buy your red poppy
The collection will swell.

Yet, remember as always
When you hear the "Last Post"
That the money you give
Is for the ones who gave most.

* "Sin-eater" - these people were said to take on the sins of recently deceased individuals by eating a ritual meal. This would then allow the deceased person to enter heaven. Simply put in modern day terms, that in hard times, good people may have to embrace darkness in order to fight it, so that other are safe.

-One who is willing to embrace darkness and suffering - freeing his fellow man to enjoy a peaceful life-

"Pentillie pals"

Another poem born from help towards my ongoing recovery from the wonderful charity Help for Heroes.
Back in 2019, I managed to get onto a 4 night stay with several other Veterans, hosted by Ted anhis wife Sarah at Pentillie Castle.
This amazing couple, who own the Pentillie Estate, near Saltash in Cornwall, twice a year gave up the entire place to host around 20 Veterans for 4 and a half days of rest, relaxation, mindfulness and rehabilitation.
I think it was day 2 when some were off out to a golf driving range and other were doing cooking, but I just needed some time alone as I was not feeling all that great.
So, that morning it was a beautiful sunny day, and I took myself out onto the estate for a walk and to take some photos. I finished up down at the quayside by the old boathouse.
I sat right next to the inspiring Tamar River, and actually managed to completely switch off, as there was total silence. I took out my writing pad and pen and once again I was inspired to write about how I was feeling and what I was experiencing, and this is what I came up with, a poem that when at Breakfast on the final day, I decided that I wanted everyone to hear it.
I got so upset, because of all the new friends I had made in just a few days, and all the different classes we had taken part in together, like yoga, pottery, willow weaving, cookery and even a bit of Tai Chi.
So I had to get one of the staff to read it out, as I think I might have fallen apart at the seams.
I hope that you enjoy.....


Ripples across the water
Carrying sparkles of sunlight
Vying for my attention
Giving me an insight

As to what is all around me
A complete panoramic view
All so much to take in
This silence feels so new

Broken only by fluent song
from our feathered friends around
Water moves so silently
To this place, I feel I'm bound

Spend the rest of my days here?
Taking in this utmost scene
watching, listening, finally breathing
My lungs and mind so clean

Feeling blessed, sat on the quay
Sun's warmth upon my face
Distant calls from the visiting geese
Lifting off with such pure grace

A cocky pheasant crows aloud
My quiet is now disturbed
Then disappears into the field
His call still being reverbed

Clear the noise from my head within
Time slows right down once more
Ripples gone, just liquid glass
The water by the shore

Laying back, I'm looking up
A sky of endless blue
Hear the "whinnie" of an unseen horse
Which steals my attention too

So many sounds amidst the hush
All alien to my ears
Yet, now this place has come alive
Soon calming all my fears

To take this time unto myself
When I needed it right now
A quiet place, with all it's grace
Will surely help somehow

Knowing how and when to act
Being mindful of your needs
Moving forward, step by step
Slowly sowing all your seeds

To help yourself to grow once more
And overcome your issues
There'll still be times of trouble again
Involving hoards of tissues

Being welcomed here, I feel so pleased
So honoured, being given a chance
To get away from the everyday
And re-invent my stance

To head in the right direction
Looking forward and never back
stronger now, I feel somehow
No longer under attack

relaxing, smiling, chatting too
Opening up with our new friends
It can't be wrong, we get along
All trying to make amends

For the time we served
gave up our lives
for country, and our Queen
This glorious week at Pentillie
Is the best it could ever have been

So thank you now to Sarah and Ted
And all the staff here too
For the wonderful time we've all spent here
From the "Pentillie Pals" Motley Crew!!!