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Medals - and cucumber sandwiches!

Endal, Allen and Sandra Parton and Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral
Sir James Burnell-Nugent and Endal with his PDSA medal

In a week when everyone’s thoughts were centred on the appalling and horrific events in London, an event took place in Portsmouth which both provided a complete contrast, and acknowledged the debt owed by Service people to the volunteers and charities that support Her Majesty's Armed Forces.

Hidden away in the heart of the historic quarter of the Royal Navy's busy Portsmouth dock yard lies Admiralty House, the residence of the Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent. At the back of the residence and out of sight behind towering 20 foot high walls is a fantastic garden which has been superbly maintained since before the days of Lord Nelson. This was the venue for a very special Garden party. The Second Sea Lord is very active in recognising the invaluable work of these charities and volunteers. So each year he organises a garden party and gathers together all these organisations as a personal thank you to all those involved.

As if it had been organised with military precision the weather was perfect for the event; not a cloud in the sky . The afternoon's entertainment consisted first of several displays representing the complete history of the Royal Navy, provided by a Royal Naval display team. This was followed by a truly inspirational performance by the Royal Marines band playing some famous military tunes and culminating on a very emotional note with the playing of Sunset. ‘It was such a peaceful setting’ said Royal Navy Gulf war veteran Allen Parton, ‘and with all that has recently happened in London a time of great reflection. At one moment you are in a busy naval base with ships steaming in and out on a war footing because of the current world situation and the next you are in this oasis of calm and tranquillity!’

Along with Allen and Sandra Parton, Canine Partner Endal was on the guest list. Also there, manning their stand, were the SSAFA team that had been in attendance at Crufts for the last two years. Charities these days play a major role in the aftermath of world conflicts and, such events as those that occurred in London over the last few weeks.

Allen says ‘The importance and impact of events like this Garden party that recognise the very special and valuable part that these charities play in today's society is never lost on me. It is always an honour and privilege to be invited to attend events like this’, adding on a personal note, ‘it is also an opportunity to meet up with the organisations that have helped us personally in our time of need. The very important part Endal has played in my rehabilitation is constantly commented on by various organisations. I always hope that the value of assistance dogs and the part they can play in rehabilitation will be recognised by the many Service organisations that deal with severely injured service personnel post conflict. The majority of partnerships have stemmed from word of mouth and personal recommendation. Throughout the Royal Marines band performance I am sure Endal was wagging his tail in time to the music’.

When our own lives are going so well It is all too easy to forget that others are less fortunate, but we do need to take time occasionally to reflect. We all have the ability to help others in some way or another, which doesn't always have to be through financial support but can simply be through giving our time. Everyone out there has a skill or talent which is of great value to the Charities who undertake so much invaluable work to help so many people in so many difficult situations.