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Bristol sailors bring song and dance into RN veterans' lives

29 June 2017
Sailors from HMS Bristol, the Portsmouth Harbour Training Ship, encourage some of the residents of Pembroke House - the care home in Gillingham run by the RN Benevolent Trust for former Senior Service personnel - to put one foot in front of the other.

Six members of the old destroyer's ship's company, led by CPO(PT) Daz 'The Hatchet' (a nickname from his RN boxing days) Hoare made the 200-mile round trip to provide a break from the routine and some matelot cheer to 30 of the home's residents (including two ladies aged 101 and 104).

The Bristolians spent the morning helping to prepare two rooms for painting and decorating then offered to take residents out for a song and a dance.

"Just seeing the smile on their faces as we knocked on their rooms to take them there was brilliant," said Daz.

After an exhausting afternoon of music and laughter, the visitors served up homemade cake, tea and coffee for the Pembroke Housers.

"Some of the stories we heard about their time in the Forces - or their loved ones' time - made you sit and think how brave and how very proud of them we were," Daz added.

The senior rating has recently joined the Type 82 - the only destroyer of its kind ever built, designed as a guardian for the two new carriers axed in the mid-60s - as her 'whole ship co-ordinator'…

11 years after serving aboard as a stoker. Nearly a dozen years down the line and one branch change later, he was determined to get the ship's gym running.

If you ever get a draft to Bristol, I guarantee you will enjoy and love your time onboard,

CPO(PT) Daz Hoare

With some help from Temeraire, some money from the Rebalancing Lives fund and a new treadmill, watt bike and rowing machine were provided, plus kettle bells, power bags, medicine balls, matting, punching torso man, and other kit, hey presto, new-look gym.

It was 'christened' with a Road to Twickenham event for the RNRMC - the ship's company were expected to row, ride, or run 300 miles (collectively) inside 54 hours.

They did so with six hours to spare (CPO Iain McDougall clocked up 81 miles on his own), raising £250 for the Navy's senior charity.

"If you ever get a draft to Bristol, I guarantee you will enjoy and love your time onboard," says Daz. "While you work hard, we make time for - not time off for - a whole lot of activities."

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