Unfortunately, we have been unable to join in the ceremonies in Arnhem this year. The Coronavirus restrictions has kept most of us at home. So sadly, we are watching from afar.
However, Paul Moore, our President and Charlie McColgan, our Vice-President, have gone to Arnhem to represent the Airborne Forces Riders and to oversee distribution of the commemorate pin to the children. Both will quarantine for 14 days on their return.
Today they were at the Airborne Museum paying their respects to the RAF
Charlie McColgan has, over the past years, become a firm friend of Arnhem veteran, John “Jeff” Jeffries.
Sadly, Jeff passed away on 30th August 2020. His funeral, rather fittingly was on 17th September 2020. All Airborne soldiers know that date. It was the start of Operation Market Garden in 1944. On the 17th Jeff was preparing his kit for the drop on the following day. Jeff was shot while parachuting down onto the DZ, DZ X Ray, now known to us as Ginkel Heath. Jeff’s life was saved by two young Dutch girls who tended to him on the DZ. Charlie was determined to mark his passing, on the actual DZ on the 18th September, the day he landed all those years ago.
Charlie has sent a video, from Ginkel Heath, Arnhem, which our President, Paul Moore posted on the Airborne Forces Riders Facebook page.
Here is the inspiration for the design of Charlie’s badges. Although Charlie McColgan drew inspiration for the design of the badges from the statue shown in the photo, we must NEVER forget that the inspiration for the idea was purely, simply and totally Charlie’s!
I, and many others, would like to be a part of this venture, and we will do everything in our power to make it succeed, now and in the future. But, we cannot claim any part of the credit for the original idea (much as I and my Brothers-in-arms would love to).
Charlie, and only Charlie, came up with the idea of doing “something” for the wonderful children who lay the flowers on the graves of the fallen, each year, at Arnhem. For this we must give him the total credit he deserves.
I would ask all my Airborne brothers, Supporters and friends to always, in the future, to refer to the badges as “Charlie’s badges“, so that we forever remind people that our very own Charlie McColgan, ex 9 Sqn, Falklands veteran, had a brilliant, wonderful and inspirational idea….and he followed up with action to make it happen.
Less than an hour and they were all gone!! That’s how long it took for 600 badges, of the total of 2000 that were for sale, to sell. But, there is still a way that you can buy one.
The allocation was as follows:
The flower children of Arnhem – 1400
The Trafalgar Pub – 200
Sale on Ebay – 400
The Ebay badges went almost immediately it was announced. However, Richard Stacey, landlord of the Trafalger Pub, is yet to receive his allocation to sell through the pub. If you want one then please contact Stace via Facebook to find out if he has any left. When he runs out that is it !!
There will be no others made until next year. 2000 each year is the production run and it will stay at that to ensure rarity value for the children.
Charlie McColgan, ex 9 Sqn and Falklands vet, was so taken with the flower children in Arnhem that he hatched a plan last year. The flower children lay a flower on the grave of the fallen men of Arnhem at the military cemetery in Oosterbeek. His plan was to raise funds to enable a beret to be given to each of the children each year (some 1400 a year). Initially he asked for beret donations and they flooded in.
After discussions with the organisers in Arnhem, it was felt that an annual pin badge would be a better idea. They would be more discreet and would become collectable, something children (and adults) like to do).
Here is Charlie’s update:
It’s been a while since my “ last post” for the Flower Children of Arnhem”. Some of you know but if you don’t, last year I set out to try and present every kid who was laying flowers at the Oosterbeek Airborne Cemetery with a beret to wear this year… the response was incredible and between Richard Stacey and myself we have over 500 berets from all over the world… On negotiations with the committee who organise the “flower children” it was decided that giving the kids a beret wasn’t the way to go forward to thank them for what they do each year remembering our falling…( there is a plan for the berets and I will update soon) instead between both parties we have rekindled an old tradition of presenting the kids with a token of appreciation for what they do. This will be in the form of a Pin badge which hopefully will be a collectible item as each one will be the same but the year will change… my idea is to produce 2000 each year(1500) for the children and 500 up for grabs for a £5 including postage( details to follow). This way we can raise enough money to provide the pin badges every year …. I can only feel most humbled for the support this idea has had but at the end of the day, these children deserve our thanks as anybody who has been to Oosterbeek on that Sunday morning will understand.
The following message has been released by Paul Moore, our President:
As you are aware, we have been paying very close attention to the COVID situation particularly in UK and Netherlands and the rest of Europe.
A few weeks ago things were looking very good and we were planning on attending in smaller numbers than previous years, and reducing our contact along with whatever social distancing measures were in place.
The UK Foreign Office advise against all but essential travel, and on Saturday the UK Government introduced new measures that mean that anyone travelling from NL / Belgium / France etc must self isolate for 14 days on return. This makes the trip unviable as going against Government advice may invalidate insurances and employers are unlikely to look kindly on an employee having to take another two weeks off work on return. On top of this, the Airborne Forces Riders must be seen to do the right thing and be socially responsible in order to help fight this virus.
Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I have made the decision that for this year the Airborne Forces Riders will NOT come to Arnhem for the Annual Commemorations. However, we will be back in 2021 !
This year we are planning on some rides within the UK that are Market Garden related, and you will be able to follow these on our Facebook page.
Some riders have stated their intention to come to Arnhem no matter what situation is in place, and I have asked them NOT to wear any Airborne Forces Riders insignia while they are in Arnhem and surrounding areas.
I hope you all stay safe and well,
Airborne Forces Riders
From the comments so far it would seem most people understand and agree with the decision.
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