Reception with Jack and Jenny
Last night I attended the Chairman’s reception for the Ships Company of HMS Cornwall. Two Bus loads of the Senior Service were shipped over to County Hall for a few drinks and nibbles. (Jack and Jenny is the nickname of male and female sailors)
What struck me when looking at the Ships Company all dressed in Square Rig was the amount of Campaign Medals that they were wearing. It was not just the old sea dog that had a chest full, but those in their late teens early 20’s that were wearing them. Here they were dressed in their No1’s wearing Campaign Medals standing in a building that they were in simplistic terms out there in the world defending our right to debate, make new rules and laws.
Sadly, and I know there is a General Election on, but I am sorry to say there were not many Cornwall Councillors present. No more than 15 Cornwall Councillors attended out of 123. Sad really, as these people could make the ultimate sacrifice. It would have been nice if more Councillors could have turned up. An Interesting fact that a few years ago 54% of all personal in Afghanistan were from the Royal Navy (Royal Marines are part of the RN).
Chatting to the Officers, Senior Ratings and Ratings it was the lower ranks that were generally interested in how Politics works. I was humbled because they generally wanted to know how it all worked. It was a little easy for me as I was able to speak the same language as them as I wore the same uniform many years ago. I took a few of them into the Chambers to show them. They were again generally interested and impressed not with the building, but the concept and that each seat in there represented a part of the community.
Looking around the Long Galley you could see the young sailors chatting to the various Mayors with them and pointing at the gold they were wearing and asking lots of questions. It seemed the Sailors were interested in what gold each was wearing, whilst some of these Mayors were more interesting in their medals.
Special mention should go to Mo and the Chief Stoker, they were great company! Sadly both of these will be leaving the service soon. Mo (and he will hate me for this) Won the MBE in Sierra Leone 12 years ago. He was the youngest ever rating in the RN to be awarded the MBE. Ask him how he got it; he will say “wrong place right time”.
Another Rating I met was caught up in that debacle a few years ago with the Iranian Gunboats. He was one of those who were captured. What impressed me most was that he was offered over £30k to tell his story, guess what he said. Not interested. You have to ask yourself how many of us would turn down £30k when that’s equivalent to 2 years wages tax free.
Why have I mentioned these two, well these are just two of the people in that room that had a story to tell or had seen something. Ask them about it and they will just say “life in a blue Suit”. This Ships Company are a credit to themselves and the Royal Navy.
In true Naval fashion the bar was left empty at the end of the day