British troops in Afghanistan plan to raise funds for the Teddies for Loving Care Appeal
The 30 Hour Endurance Challenge is due to take place on 28th - 29th July 2012 in the Gereshk camp (55m X 30m) in Northern Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
The troops which form 'Advisor 30', their call sign matrix (and hence the 30 hour challenge), is headed up by Bro Ally McMillan and they are a multi cap-badged group of soldiers representing the Royal Engineers, Grenadier Guards, Royal Signals, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME), Royal Logistic Corps (RLC), Intelligence Corps, Rifles, Regular and TA.
Throughout the 30 hour period someone from the call sign will be on the exercise bike and another on the cross trainer, each solider taking different shifts. This may not seem that onerous but it will take place whilst still continuing to maintain the camp routine and all tasking's at the time and in quite an austere setting. Temperatures at this time of year usually average 3 (90f) but can reach 40c (105f).
On the Saturday of the 28th July 2012 there will also be a charity cake sale taking place in the Market Square, Saffron Walden, Essex, UK, to mirror the event taking place in Afghanistan. This will be undertaken by Emma McMillan, Alistair's wife (also serving with the British Forces), and other 'Military Wives' and friends.
The original idea came from Staff Sergeant Alistair 'Mac' McMillan a bomb disposal officer based at the Wimbish Barracks, Saffron Walden, Essex UK. He felt that whilst in Afghanistan he should continue to help others back in the UK. The event is to raise money and awareness for the TLC Appeal who provides teddies or soft toys to A&E units for the medical staff to give, at their discretion, to children who are in severe distress, where the staff feel that a teddy to cuddle will help alleviate that distress, that will assist them in their urgent work.
Bro. Ally 'Mac' McMillan has ties with the charity both through masonic friends and a personal experience when his son was admitted to hospital at a young age. He wanted to give something back and raise awareness of the Charity itself. Alistair is a Scottish Mason who bacame a joining member of Walden Lodge No 1280 to enable him to continue with his masonry whilst away from his own Scottish Constitution. He is presently the Junior Warden of Walden Lodge and has helped raise large sums of money for the local Injured Soldiers Fund.
Thanks to the generosity of Freemasons in the Nottingham area, more than 200 children with disabilities were able to enjoy all the fun of the fair.
Members came from three lodges – Edwalton Lodge, No. 8214, and St Giles Lodge, No. 4316, both from Nottingham, and the Showman’s Lodge, No. 9826, from Loughborough. They worked with The Showmen’s Guild to make this fun day a reality.
Gordon Cowieson of Edwalton Lodge said, ‘The Showmen’s Guild has been really generous once again in opening up the fairground at Bramcote Hills Park a day early in support of children with special needs. In addition to experiencing the rides, the children also get to enjoy the usual hot dogs, beefburgers, candyfloss and ice cream.’
Peter Barratt, also of Edwalton Lodge, added, ‘The lodges involved raise funds throughout the year to cover the cost of running the event and then give generously of their time on the day to make sure it is a safe and enjoyable occasion for all.’
A key supporter of the event was the Nottingham masonic charity Teddies for Loving Care (TLC), which gave a donation towards running costs. TLC also had a stall at the fairground and ensured that every child who attended left with their own teddy bear. Also enjoying the day were the Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire, Robin Wilson, and his wife Margaret, plus the Mayor of Broxtowe.
Seven-year-old James Kelly was given his yellow teddy (now called “TLC”) when he arrived in Accident and Emergency with a broken nose. The teddy went a long way to making him feel less apprehensive, and made the visit to hospital much less stressful for James and his parents.
James’ father, Ian, is a relatively new member of Brownlow Lodge no. 2131 in Ellesmere, Shropshire, and has recently become Charity Steward. James took a liking to the teddy lapel badge which his Dad wore, and was given one of his own to wear on his school jacket. Soon it became obvious that James’ teddy was not alone and some of James’ friends as well as other boys at Bellan House School in Oswestry were also sons of Masons with their own teddy badges.
The links did not stop there – James’ music teacher turned out to be a Steward in Fitz Alan Lodge no. 1432, and one of his class teachers was married to another member of the same lodge. One thing led to another and the Bellan House link inspired masonic visits between several lodges, including a North Wales contingent from a Wrexham lodge. Thanks to Ian, James and “TLC” the work of this wonderful charity is spreading still further, and new friendships are being forged!