The SAF Association was recently approached by Walking with the Wounded, a registered charity in the UK, which exists to support disadvantaged veterans, who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, empowering them to regain their independence, to thrive and contribute to their communities. The charity works in partnership with the NHS. Two years ago the charity started to plan a walk of some 400 kilometres across part of Oman to draw attention to it’s work and to raise funds to enable it to continue to support the beneficiaries. When the Covid-19 pandemic spread across much of the world, the intended visit to Oman had to be cancelled, but plans were drawn up for a challenging walk across the UK. To retain the intended link with Oman, the charity and the walkers decided to visit the SAF Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, on the 9th October 2021.
The walkers, who had served in a variety of capacities in the Armed Forces, were accompanied for the visit by Fergus Williams, a former member of the Welsh guards and the CEO of the charity, and Andy Sloan, the charity’s marketing director. They were also accompanied by a film crew and a photographer, all of whom had been commissioned to record their progress on the walk.
The walkers were met at the National Memorial Arboretum by Kieron Shaw, representing the SAF Association. At the SAF Memorial, they laid a wreath and were given an overview of the two wars in Oman (the Jebel Akhdar and Dhofar Rebellions) which had led to the Memorial being dedicated and placed at the Arboretum. All showed interest in the Memorial and in the context that was provided. The photograph shows Kieron and a number of the walkers standing at the Memorial.
The walkers were also escorted to the Special Forces Grove at the Arboretum, which has been created and developed by Mike Colton, also a member of the SAF Association. Although the Arboretum was closed throughout the periods of lockdown associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, fundraising for further memorials and development work had continued throughout these periods. A number of the memorials at the Grove relate to the conflict in Dhofar.
The SAF Association wishes the charity and the walkers every success, both for the walk and the future.