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Freezin’ for a reason

SOME ideas are bad, some ideas are good, some, like plunging into an icy cold sea wearing only a bow-tie and

shorts, are just plain odd.

It sounds like a typically

eccentric Brit thing to do – but in fact it happened on the other side of the pond, as Lt Cdr John Aitken told us. John, an exchange officer at COMSUBDEVRON in Groton, Connecticut, joined a local rugby team in the New England league and it wasn’t long before they had talked him into a spot of fund- raising. “Agreeing to take something called a

part in ‘Penguin

Dogged devotion

FORMER Field Gunner Ges Laker has returned safe and well from his one-man and two-dog mission to walk around the entire coastline of mainland Britain to raise money for St Dunstan’s. Ges, 54, used to be a PTI – just

as well, as he had over 7,000 miles to cover in his anti-clockwise route around the coastline. Ges set off in January 2009 from his home town of Warsash, in Hampshire, with his two black labradors, a mother and son team called Phoebe and Sumo (pictured

above by LA(Phot) Dan Hooper).

During the Cornwall leg towards the end, Ges was joined by former Fleet Air Arm colleagues in the Helston area, who offered to walk with him, or supplied warm beds and food.

He and his four-legged friends

walked on average 20 miles a day, sleeping in a tent in often sub-zero temperatures. They returned to a hero’s welcome in March having raised £18,000 for St Dunstan’s. “I have wanted to do the walk for about 15 years now and I felt that if I’d left it any longer I’d be too old,” said Ges. He added: “My two Labradors were great company.” Also raising money for St Dunstan’s is former pilot Mike Scholes, who hopes to set an unusual world record. Mike was an RN pilot before

setting up his own successful, Sussex-based hot-air balloon business, Chad Ballooning, during which he set five British ballooning records. In November 2007 he had to stop flying solo as he suddenly lost most of his sight. This didn’t stop Mike taking on new challenges with the support of St Dunstan’s, who helped him adjust to losing his sight. “They’ve been amazing,”


Mike. “I never thought I would be able to go skiing again but I’ve been skiing, kayaking and canoeing thanks to the confidence building training and support of St Dunstan’s. Now I would like people to know more about the terrific service they offer”. His latest idea is to trek to the

North Pole in aid of the charity and, once there, fly a small hot air balloon flight, thus setting an (unofficial) world record as the most northerly hot air balloon flight piloted by a registered blind person.

The trek will be led by fellow balloonist David Hempleman- Adams. They will start at the Russian camp at Barneo, about 89˚ north, pulling sledges with all their equipment over the last degree of latitude to the geographic North Pole, a distance of about 60 miles.

Mike’s webpage is www.






RNAS Yeovilton will be celebrating its 70th Anniversary in 2010 and the International Air Day on Saturday 10th July offers a justifiable opportunity to look back on the 70 glorious years since RNAS Yeovilton was commissioned as HMS HERON.

An extensive flying and static display will take place with historic aircraft such as the Swordfish, Seafire, Sea Fury, Sea Hawk and Sea Vixen. Air Day will also feature the RAF Red Arrows and Spanish Air Force Patrulla Aguila.

Enter our competition and you could be one of five lucky winners of a pair of adult tickets to this internationally famous event. Simply answer the question below, complete the entry form and post to: Yeovilton Air Day Competition, Navy News, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth, Hants. PO1 3HH

Closing date: 4th June 2010

Question: What Anniversary is RNASYeovilton celebrating this year?

Answer ................................................................................... Name .................................................................................... Address ................................................................................ ........................................................Post Code.................... Phone ................................................................................ Email ................................................................................

Entries must reach the Navy News office by 12 noon 4th June 2010. Five

TICKET HOTLINE: 08445 781 781

Tickets also available from our website

entries will be drawn at 15.00. Each lucky winner will be notified by email, phone or post and will receive a pair of adult tickets by post direct from the Air Day office.The decision of the judges is final and there is no alternative prize. Employees of Navy News are not permitted to enter the competition.

Plunge’ might be regarded as one of my bad ideas, but in fact it was great fun,” he said. “Several of these


plunges’ are organised in the more bracing climate areas of the US by the national Special Olympics charity under the slogan ‘Freezin’ for a Reason.’

“The aim is for as many hardy souls as possible to head into the water to raise money.” Thus it was that John found

himself, clad only in a white bow- tie, an RN teeshirt and a pair of swimming shorts, on the beach in New London facing a grey and less-than-welcoming Long Island Sound.

He recalls: “Even I, as a son of Newcastle, born on the banks of the Tyne, thought it was a bit nippy.

“The teeshirt aroused the

● We are assured that water is very, very cold... Lt Cdr John Aitken stands second from right

curiosity of several of the locals and I was quick to confirm that yes, I was indeed a Brit, no, we weren’t invading and yes,

water did look a bit chilly.” At the appointed hour, John joined about 300 other ‘penguins’ in various forms of dress as they took up their positions at the start line, watched by local NBC and Fox TV news crews. Then he took the plunge. He said: “Someone shouted ‘GO!’ and bellowing ‘God Save


the Queen!’ I launched myself into the oggin where the sea water temperature was 35˚F, something I had tried not to think about.”

before thinking ‘I’m going to die!’ and heading back to the safety of shore, a towel, a hip flask and a big bag of thermal clothing.

He added: “Exhilarating is probably the best word for it. “I felt as though there were needles in my feet, a metal band around my head and some uninvited and unwelcome assailant had their freezing cold hands in my shorts. “I swam out, perhaps 15 metres,

“It took about ten minutes of vigorous massage to encourage the blood back into my feet.” The plunge raised about $65,000, of which more than $2,500 was raised by John’s rugby team.

off, in fact he plans to repeat the whole thing again next winter...

Concerted fundraising

ROYAL MARINE Band concerts in Stonehouse Barracks have raised £6,000 for Plymouth charities.

TAKING on a 22,000-tonne warship with a top speed of over 30 knots in a race was never going to be easy – but 20 officer cadets from Vanguard Division gave it their all during their Initial Fleet Time.

As HMS Ark Royal set off from Glenmallan to travel around to Newcastle, a distance of 198 miles as the crow flies, Vanguard Division

(pictured above by LA(Phot) Gregg

Macready) set off to race the ship on their treadmills, covering an equal distance overnight. Running on three treadmills, all the cadets took part in the race, assisted by their Divisional Officer, Lt Tim Blatchford, and Divisional Senior Rate CPOET(WE) Mike Nolan, who each covered nine miles.

The event was organised and

conceived by Officer Cadet Tim Bateson, from Fareham, who said: “We wanted to raise some money for the RNRMC and this appeared to be an appropriate challenge to prove that we are “Fit to Fight, Fit for Life.’”

He added: “It is heartwarming to receive so much support from the ship’s company, who are inundated with requests for charity.

“Special thanks are due to the members of the Mess below the treadmills, whose charitable tendencies were stretched to breaking point by the constant pounding of feet above their heads!”

The final mileage total was 205

and the cadets were rewarded for their exertions by raising more than £500.

by Carole Dinham, PA to the Commanding Officer, and have been very popular with the general public. All proceeds from ticket sales go to charity and the latest beneficiaries are the RM Charitable Trust Fund; RM Volunteer Cadet Force; Alexandra House; Horizons; Plymouth Shopmobility and Community Transport; Precious Lives Appeal, and the Elizabeth Svendsen Trust. Carole said: “I am so pleased that the Royal Marines can show their support to the local community in this small way. “I would like to thank those who continue to attend concerts for their support but especially I would like to thank the band for their excellent performances which make the concerts such a success.”

■ AND there will be a Royal Marines Band charity concert in Chichester this month, raising money for Seafarers UK and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust.

The band will be performing at St Paul’s Church in Chichester on Saturday April 17 with two concerts at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £15 each, and can be obtained from Cdr Martin Ewence on 023 9262 5290 or from Seafarers UK on 023 9273 6101.

Cakes baked

SAILORS and Marines from the Commando Helicopter Force benefitted from a festive gift from a local baker of 29 Christmas cakes and a donation of £1,000 from the people of Wincanton and the surrounding district. Local baker Declan Farrell and his son gave the fruitcakes to CHF saying: “It is a great honour for my family to show our support to the Service men and women who are serving our country with such distinction.” The money was collected by the Wincanton branch of the Support our Troops organisation.

The concerts are organised

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