Someone has been talking! This is what greeted me this morning. In the night Mr Stitch thought he would take the Michael. Very funny old boy!


Well after the presentations we all went next door to the Italian Restaurant La Scalza for a party to which I invited anybody in the charity or who had been so in my time. And of course all the eyebrows came too.! Here is a sample with The Arch Eyebrow!! We didn't finish there till about 6.30 but then my time sense got a bit hazy and I forgot I had got Celia to pick me up in Swindon at 7.15. Didn't go down very well but was forgiven when I got there at 10.15!! It was a very jolly evening and a good way to finish. This will be one of my last blogs as I will not continue once I have left on Monday. Mr Stitch may take it up in September.


This is supposed to be Mr Stitch who seems to have found a place in the heart of my team.  So Kirsty, the Arch Baker cooked this little cake for my farewell party.  Actually rather to her irritation I bumped into her at Oxford Street tube a few hours earlier, her clutching the cake precariously.  I ask "oh what the dickens have you got there?"  Kirsty clearly thinks "are you that stupid?" but doesnt say it.
Anyway later in the day before the party I spotted Henni wearing a tweed cap and these enormous cotton wool eyebrows(and there she is in the picture) so I said "good heavens!"  and thought how odd they are all dressing up as rabbits or something and only when I saw another pair of these eyebrows did I twig that they were taking MY eyebrows. Oh well why not? 
Then I was given a lovely present of some silver cuff links in the shape of foxes, a wonderfully conceived idea.  I am very fond of foxes and we look after a number at home!!  I was given a very funny card with lots of irreverent messages.  Lots and lots og giggles though.
Kirsty with her contacts with F Company managed to borrow a bearskin as they wanted to see me in one, so here I am!!

Grace having a laugh.  She came in the train and tube wearing these eyebrows, would you believe it!  Heaven knows what the ordinary passengers thought!! 


As Harry Belafonte crooned “ I am sad to say, I am on my way, wont be back for many a day”. I leave the Charity in 10 days time so the festivities started to day at a lunch in the Guards Museum, somewhere I know well. I was kindly presented by the trustees this amusing cartoon which shows me jumping a fence at Cheltenham or somewhere on an unknown horse. Mr Stitch says it certainly isn’t him!!


Tremendous to see the Soldiers’ Charity poster back up on  Waterloo Station.  This is part of the marketing for the Soldiers Challenge due to take place on sat 19 May when we hope to have 2000 young supporters careering round London in aid of the charity.  The poster which is enormous will remain there throughout March, April and May.


Sad day as the gates of the King's Troop Barracks in St John's Wood were closed for the last time. The Troop were royally looked after by the citizens of St John's Wood as the guns and horses paused in the High Street. Choirs, singing old songs and a splendid speech by the Commanding Officer. The Troop went on to fire the Royal Salute for the Queen's Accession.


To day a visit to the 1812 battlefield of Borodino where Napoleon faced the Imperial Russian Army hoping to stop the French taking Moscow. Napoleon was intending to destroy the Russian Army. A bloody battle which failed to produce a result. Napoleon did take Moscow but the Russian Army was able to fight another day and when Napoleon retreated in the Russian winter they got their revenge and destroyed the Grand Army. We walked a good 5 mile in the snow to see the ground. One needed to keep walking to stay warm. Last blog from Russia, thank goodness I hear some of you say.


This is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour the Moscow equivalent of the Abbey. It was built between the 1840s and 1882 and was built to commemorate the victory against the French in 1812. However it was destroyed by Stalin in 1932. But in 1990 the new Regime complied with the appeal by the Patriarch to rebuild the Cathedral. It was finished in 2000. It is a remarkable reconstruction, beautifully decorated and adorned with ikons. It is a living Cathedral with a constant stream of worshipers.


Later that evening we attended a slap up reception, Stalingrad style, with a host of veteran Soviet officers.  They all looked as we remember them laden with medals and looking rather stern. But after a few toasts of vodka they warmed up.  I discovered that the gentleman who was a Tank officer on the left had been in 3rd Shock Army and was therefore opposite 1st British Corps in the bad old days.  The one on the right was also a Tank officer and aged 90.  Both had been at Stalingrad and made little of it. They didnt like to talk about it vfery much.  They had a job and just got on with it.


We then went back into City to watch a re enactment of the surrender of Field Marshal von Paulus in the basement of a department store. It is still a Department Store and the cameo was quite well done. We then had lunch next door and a semi drunk lad accosted us (the DA and Brummers were in uniform); he had served in Chechnya for 4 years and clearly had problems. There is no Combat Stress in Volgograd. I suspect there are many all over Russia. At times the Russian Army can lose kia about 500 a month in Chechnya.


At the top of the hill, Mamaev Kurghan we entered this chamber adorned with bronze coloured mosaics and the names of some 7200 randomly selected fallen soldiers of the Soviet Army. The centre of the roof was hollow so snow slowly fell as we went to place our flowers in homage. All very moving and like everything in Russia very symbolic.           


A most moving moment as we processed up the 200 (one for every day of the battle) steps to this enormous statue of Mother of the Motherland. It is 89 metres high and weighs 450,000 tons. The whole affair is akin to Remembrance Sunday. 


The gentleman on the left was a 17 year old during the battle and was an ammunition carrier. Humble and not wishing for attention but today was his 86 year birthday and he received and made a toast two of about 20 at a Veterans breakfast. We ought to have the same in the Soldiers Charity but we could do without the vodka. Brummers is my kind host and allowed me to witness an extraordinary day as Volgograd commemorates the German surrender at Stalingrad.  


Flew into The Kessel at Gumrak. The previous flight had to return to Moscow owing to the visibility. Its only minus 18 but the wind coming off the Steppe is punishing adding about another ten degrees in wind chill. To think that two armies fought in these conditions is really horrifying.


On way back from the visit to the monastery I passed through yet one more of these extraordinary Metro stations so carefully designed to impress the rare visitor from the West. In this one there is a series of bronze figures almost life sized reflecting all walks of Soviet life. I am standing beside a soldier with his dog whose snout has been worn down by generations of Muscovites putting their hand on it in the hope of good luck. I watched several commuters go out of their way to place their hand on the canine nose. It reminded me of the monkey on the door of the City Hall in Mons. Now Wed and we are on way to Volgograd at minus 21.   


It is minus 25 but the air is clean and pure. Keeping warm in this is quite a challenge. Layers of clothes and good boots essential. The onion domes of Russian Orthodox churches are beautifully decorated in gold leaf and are fascinating to see. Russia is a changing place but many think it is for the worse.


On an outing out of Moscow experienced Russian transport systems. Traffic is a nightmare and you need a strong nerve or half a bottle of vodka. The metro is very efficient, bigger and cleaner than the underground. Stalin had magnificent metro stations built in the 50s and this picture is of such a Metro station decorated with mosaics depicting the glories of the Soviet Union and Lenin. Trains not so impressive, wider than ours but very basic, wooden benches etc no refreshments.


Spent most of day in the Kremlin which is an amazing place of interest and sheer wealth of silver and gold objects including beautiful Faberge eggs. Spent time on Red Square and learnt that its name predates Communism. Visited the tomb of the unknown soldier and the eternal flame where I spotted some very smart Russian soldiers not unlike these depicted on the Kremlin wall.


Have come to Moscow to see if we can set up a ABF Committee here. Its minus 20 and wearing a hat like this is essential. Fascinating place which has changed greatly in last five years.


We were all absolutely delighted by the safe arrival on Wednesday of the Row to recovery team in Barbados.  They had had a very trying time but they persevered with the lack of water, broken rudder and just coping with the added challenges of doing this with those so severely injured, but what courage and determination which makes us all feel so humble and feeble.  here is part of Rory's last blog, it is moving stuff. We in ABF the Soldiers' charity are so grateful to them for what they have done our behalf.  Many soldiers will be helped.

We pulled together and found solutions because that is what we do. As soldiers, you find answers, and we managed that throughout this row.
It’s going to be so amazing to see all our friends and family when we get alongside in Port St Charles, as well as all the other crews who have completed this incredible challenge of physical and mental endurance.
The next few days are going to be an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has supported us and made this row possible.
Hopefully it will also be a chance to hit our target of £1million for service charities.
We have all be on an amazing journey that will stay with us forever. Just like the physical injuries that, in some people’s eyes, define who we are.
But mind will always win over matter, and we have shown that where there is a will to succeed, there is a way.
People have asked me what I have left to achieve. What more can I do after achieving this? The answer? Get married and start a family. I can’t imagine anything could possibly top that.
But right now, five years after my lowest point, it is time to enjoy the moment. Right now, without any shadow of a doubt, it is time for a beer. I think we’ve earned it.
Much love, Rory.


Once more the three heads of the three Single Service charities met to confer but this time we had my successor, Major General Martin Rutledge, to see how we operate. Before you ask, I have no idea if he will have a blog! But also we had the Minister, Andrew Robatham who briefed us on areas of joint interest. A most worthwhile gathering which is increasingly leading to better cooperation. Disclaimer The information contained in this communication is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for use by the intended recipient and others authorised to receive it. If you are not the intended recipient you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking action in reliance of the information herein is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.


The good news is that we are back at Waterloo station with this enormous poster in the old Euro Star terminal.  This is all part of the build up with the Soldier Challenge on 19th May.  Its great to have this sort of publicity for virtually nothing as the terminal will be used as the start and finish points for the Challenge when up to 2000 will go carreering around London.  


The good news is that the Row to Recovery have at last been resupplied with water by the Aurora.  What a relief!  They then had a problem with the rudder, so if it isn't one thing its another.  That's been solved more or less and they are rowing again which is great news.  They are all in remarkable heart and this clip from their web site says it all:
We’ve just passed through 500 nautical miles to go to Barbados and I cannot tell you how much of a lift that has given to all of us. I also really want to say just how amazing it is to be told of all the support and interest we are generating back home, it means so much to every single member of this crew.
To hear that the fundraising has also been boosted as a result the difficulties we’ve been experiencing also makes it easier to cope with.
I really can’t tell you how much it means to us to know that what we are doing out here is in some small way inspiring people back home and encouraging people to give money to our cause. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We are not out of the woods yet. After all the problems we’ve had so far it seems inconceivable that the rest of the trip will be plain sailing.
But one thing is for sure, our resolve to succeed remains undiminished, despite the seemingly endless technical problems we’ve encountered.
You have my word, this team will not give up. Wish us luck!s luck!


On Monday I attended the launch of new information screens at RAF Brize Norton. They had been designed and paid for by Thales and very smart they are. What is noteworthy is that this project has been completed in partnership with the three single service charities. I nearly got put on a flight to Helmand but the pinstripe didn't look quite right!


On Friday I went to the funeral of Bishop Michael Mann, a soldier, historian and eminent priest. He loyally supported The British Legion, St Dunstans (he became blind towards the end of his life) and ABF. Living as he did in Gloucetershire I was able to seek his advice on many matters. In 2004 he helped enormously over the 60th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service and suggested we had a passage from George MacDonald Fraser's book "Quartered Safe Out Here". George came down to read it himself. It was a coup. We always remember that he lost his son, killed in action in Oman in the 70s. He was a wonderful man and a sad loss.


Whilst we were enjoying War Horse and all the other things we have had to day including that nice drink at the end of the day, think of those poor sods in the mid atlantic with virtually no water.  Theor relief ship, the Aurora does not reach them till Sunday several days later than planned when their water desalination kit broke down.  But clearly their morale is bearing up judging by yesterdays bulletin which I repeat here..
We are still on two litres of water each at the moment which is causing some discomfort for all of us.
The fact we can’t rehydrate any of our food means we are only taking on around 2000 calories per day, while burning more like 5-6,000 so the weight continues to fall off.
I had some muesli this morning which at the start of the race I thought was disgusting. Today it tasted like the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Our dreams are also getting weirder. It’s a regular thing now to get woken up 15 minutes before the shift starts only to be convinced you’ve been rowing for the past two hours.
It’s also seriously hot so we’re just kind of lolling around trying to stay cool during the day time. Whenever a cloud comes across to block out the sun it’s a blessed relief.
So, to sum up, we’re hungry, thirsty and bored. We’re going nowhere and we’re overheating.
Miserable? Not a bit of it. This campaign is about overcoming adversity, inspiring our wounded friends and their families, and raising £1million for service charities. This may be an uncomfortable situation, but it is not life threatening, and we remain determined to complete our mission.
If you want to help us……please donate to the cause! Thank you so much for your continued interest in what we’re doing. We’ll be in touch soon.


Well we were all very lucky to attend a preview showing of War Horse on Tuesday night.  Its a fantastic film and really well produced.  The photography is sensational and its a great story with the odd tear moment.  We had 80 in the auditorium with Fern Brittain, Kate Humble and Ben Fogle keeping us company. But we nearly had another War!  I thought all Geordies liked each other but apparently not all is sweetness and light between one part of Newcastle and another.  So here we  have Kirsty who organised this great night from one part of "toon" and Guardsman Fergusson otherwise known as "Gazza" from another. But they have made up and look happy enough. "Gazza" is currently at Headley Court  A great evening for many of our supporters and soldiers 


We have been given 80 seats for a preview of Stephen Spielberg's film WAR HORSE.  So we have invited the 80 lucky soldiers, veterans and beneficiaries by e-mail.  To do this we decided to do a video of me inviting them to the event.  We did this at Knightsbridge Barracks with a horse called Hope joining me.  There are two versions the funny one  and the final version which is not so amusing!!


This is the result of our recent campaign to thank the ordinary soldier.  We asked our Facebook fraternity to put their faces on the Union Flag image which we then had reflected onto the White Cliffs of Dover on December 27th. We attracted 6,000 good folk who clearly appreciate what our soldiers do for the nation. 


Now the party period is over it is sobering to thunk of the Row 2 Recovery team in mid Atlantic with their desalinator broken and now having to ration themselves on water.  This is an excerpt of Neil Heritage's blog where he talks about Aurora their relief boat which is several days away. Aurora's skipper Richard seems confident that he will get to us in around seven to eight days which should give us plenty of time. We need to keep our fingers crossed the winds stay strongly behind us as that will speed the Aurora's passage to us.
In the meantime it's just a question of waiting. We've stopped rowing during the day to preserve energy and are only getting on the oars when it cools down at night. That's making sleeping a bit of a problem though because the cabins are stiflingly hot and incredibly sticky and uncomfortable.
But at least with the tail winds we are still being propelled in the right direction towards Barbados. We made almost 50 miles yesterday without pulling a stroke.
Despite all our setbacks we remain defiant in the face of adversity. We're confident we've got a plan in place which will enable us to re-supply and get on with completing our crossing.
It's incredibly frustrating that technical problems are hampering us so badly but we remain totally determined to get across.
This mission is about more than winning a race – it's about showing what can be achieved after serious injury. We have no intention of giving up any time soon.
I doubt there'll be much celebrating of New Year tonight. We've got a few other things to worry about at the moment!
Copyright (c) 2010 SIR EVELYN. >