From 30 May to 1 June 2016, WVF President Dan-Viggo Bergtun visited the United Nations offices in Geneva at the invitation of Soldiers of Peace International Association (SPIA), for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
From 18 to 26 May 2016, WVF President Dan-Viggo Bergtun travelled to the United States. On this trip, he visited numerous organisations and governmental bodies in both New York and Washington, DC, to encourage further partnership between the WVF and American associations, as well as looking at the possibility of a Standing Committee on the Americas.
13 June 2016
On Saturday 11 June, WVF Secretary General, Lt. Col. Joseph Falzon, completed a 24 mile sponsored walk with all donations going towards the World Veterans Federation. Here, Lt. Col. Falzon recounts what was a memorable day for him and his entourage.
The prospects were not promising – overnight rain had turned into a protracted drizzle and everywhere was wet. But, undeterred and full of positive thoughts, we set off from Old Sarum Castle (Salisbury) exactly as planned at 6.30am. I was joined by the intrepid Graham Brown (leader and guide for the day - he had the maps!), David Morehead and his son George as the walking party, with Phil Jones providing the logistic support.
It is true to say that, apart from George, none of us are made for running marathons any more. That does not mean, however, that we can’t all get out into the great outdoors and push ourselves for a good cause with a challenging walk.
In no time at all we are out of Salisbury, ambling through the hamlet of Ford, and on our way to Winterslow – our first checkpoint. This brought us to the well known walking route across Wiltshire and Hampshire known as the Clarendon Way. For the most part, the Clarendon Way (24 Miles from Salisbury to Winchester) follows the same path as the Monarch’s Way, a much longer walk of 615 miles from Worcester to Brighton, used by Charles II to escape to France following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester by Oliver Cromwell in 1651.
Unlike Charles we had nowhere to hide. We settled down to enjoy the splendid variety of beautiful and majestic scenery along the way, ranging from the water meadows of the valleys with their charming villages through woodland - ancient as well as modern - to downlands with far-ranging views. Some of the paths were easy, but mostly they were on challenging terrain. Although wet underfoot, at least it had stopped raining before we even realised it.
There are over 100,000 war memorials in the United Kingdom – with over 5,000 in the counties of Wiltshire and Hampshire alone. Conscious that we are approaching the centenary of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July, we made it a point along the route to pay our respects at the memorials in Winterslow, Broughton, Kings Somborne and Winchester (which is quite a magnificent memorial in the Cathedral Close – the centre of the City).
Poppies, such an emotive symbol here in the United Kingdom, were in abundance in the beautiful countryside. Rather like the fields of Flanders in the First World War, these red poppies, delicate but resilient flowers, grow in their thousands, flourishing in cornfields and hedgerows. No wonder Lt. Col. John McRae was inspired in 1915 by the sight of the poppies to write the now famous poem “In Flanders Field”.
Our walk from one beautiful Cathedral City to another was one of the best things I have ever done. We got to the famous West Gate of the city of Winchester at exactly 4.30pm – the whole journey took 10 hours including three brief stops. By my calculation we had actually walked 22 miles – but who’s counting! I am fortunate live in an amazingly varied country, with scenery like no other and a network of footpaths to enjoy it to the full. If you get the chance, just do it.
Unlike other, more solitary pursuits, a walk offers opportunities to talk with your fellow trekkers and support each other. This walking event brought a unique sense of camaraderie and friendship as our small group joined together for one common cause. It was a brilliant day.
Thank you all for your support.