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.
23 May 2016
On 20 May 2016, WVF President Mr. Dan-Viggo Bergtun, accompanied by WVF Peace and Security Division representative Col. Zdzislaw Jamka (Poland), met Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Hervé Ladsous, at the UN Headquarters in New York, USA.
Mr. Ladsous, formerly France’s ambassador to China, Indonesia and Timor-Leste, was appointed to the post by UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon in 2011, following the departure of fellow Frenchman Mr. Alain Le Roy.
The meeting was a success, with Mr. Ladsous encouraging further co-operation between the WVF and the United Nations in the future.
This meeting was part of Mr. Bergtun’s trip to the United States, where he has also met Team Rubicon Global founder, Mr. William McNulty. Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams all over the world. They have sent teams to crisis situations in Haiti, Nepal, as well as across the United States. Since being founded in 2010, Team Rubicon has grown internationally and now has a roster of over 35,000 volunteers ready to serve once again.
Photo: Mr. Hervé Ladsous (left) shakes hands with WVF President Mr. Dan-Viggo Bergtun.
26 April 2016
Dr Walter Busuttil, Director of Medical Services at WVF member association Combat Stress, has won the 2016 Soldiering On Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of 34 years’ work in the field of mental health.
For more than three decades, Dr Busuttil has supported the military community in overcoming mental health conditions, as well as developing one of the most effective treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
On Friday night at the 2016 Soldiering On Awards, held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London, he collected the Lifetime Achievement Award in front of hundreds of service personnel, veterans and representatives of UK military charities.
Afterwards, Dr Busuttil said: “I'm stunned, overwhelmed and delighted to have won the Soldiering On Lifetime Achievement Award. Credit should go to serving personnel, veterans and their families who taught me all I know about military health; my RAF training in military psychiatry and my mentors; and all the staff at Combat Stress who work so hard to meet the increasing demand for the charity's treatment and support.
was established as a not-for-profit organisation to support Service personnel and their families throughout their lives by giving recognition of the inspirational and outstanding achievements of teams or individuals through an annual awards ceremony.
The WVF extends its heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Busuttil.
Read the full article on the Combat Stress website: http://www.combatstress.org.uk/news/2016/04/walter-busuttil-soldiering-on-award/