Sunday, 28 July 2013

How shall I spend a summer’s evening?

There are many ways one can enjoy a summer’s evening – standing in brilliant sunshine with a glass of wine in the Tower of London was not one that I had thought about before. I was attending the summer reception of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment at its new headquarters – the Tower of London.

It is the most decorated of all British Army regiments, with 57 Victoria Crosses. There are three PWRR battalions, two regular and one territorial and it is the latter that the Needlemakers Company has a close association with - the Third Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment (3 PWRR). (Known as the Tigers, the Regiment has a long, distinguished history, having been involved in virtually every theatre of war since the Battle of Tangier in 1662.)

Members of this TA Battalion are soldiers who take time out from their civilian “day” jobs. Any thoughts that all this involves is weekends yomping around the countryside couldn’t be further from the truth – they support the regular army and have been in Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest.

It is a complicated situation in the current economic circumstances – it is no mean contribution for a small/medium-sized company to allow staff this leave of absence (protected by law): in return they get a member of staff who has had additional training, received invaluable experience – especially in people management, team work, team building and managing under pressure.  For the soldier – it can be tough integrating back into the day job coming back from the front line.  I have to think that anything that develops a member of staff (especially at someone else’s expense) has to be valuable to the organisation as a whole but it isn’t simple.

On a very superficial level I had a super evening, renewed acquaintance with some former members of the regiment and met some new ones – and was given a tiny tiger pin which I shall definitely wear with pride. 

If you want to read a bit more see my blog from last year about The Albuhera Dinner.  Rereading it I see that I mentioned some of the same issues as I do again – they still remain.  See below for the view of Tower Bridge against the evening sky as I was leaving - how lucky I am.

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