702 NAS give a lift to HMS Raleigh 'Escape to Twickenham' team
A team from HMS Raleigh were given a rousing send-off as they set off on their journey to London, by any means possible, in time for the annual Navy/Army rugby match at Twickenham on Saturday 3 May.
The group, consisting of Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Freddie Fox, Warrant Officer (WO) Natasha Pulley, Leading Physical Trainer (LPT) Sion ‘Jenks’ Jenkins and Leading Seaman (LS) Mark Sissons, ‘escaped’ from their base in Cornwall at 8.30 on Wednesday 30 April, with a round of applause from their fellow sailors. All four sailors are currently serving at the HMS Raleigh. Lt Cdr Fox is in charge of the initial naval training school for recruits, while WO Pulley heads up the establishment’s PT department. LPT Jenkins is part of the team responsible for taking the recruits through the PT element of their phase one training and LS Sissons is assigned to one of the training divisions, supporting the recruits as they make the transition from civilians into sailors. Together they have served a total of 87 years.
The Captain of HMS Raleigh, Captain Bob Fancy, challenged the team to get as many celebrities as possible to sign a rugby ball and gave £5 for every different type of transport blagged along the way. The team were given a sealed envelope by one of the training squadrons at Raleigh, to open on arrival at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.
Children at Carbeile Junior School also lined up at the school to show their support as the group passed through Torpoint.
Aiming to raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity the team was looking for people to donate and set them challenges to carry out en-route. Challenges were set online at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EscapetoTwickenham. They were totally reliant on public support throughout their 230 mile journey for food transport and beds for the night.
As the principal charity of the Royal Navy, the RNRMC focuses on the sailors and marines who wear the uniform today by helping to boost morale, improving facilities and easing the pressures of Service life. The charity also provides valuable funds for Naval and military charities that work with families and veterans. The RNRMC has set sailors and Royal Marines ‘The road to Twickenham’ challenge to raise money for the charity. The group from HMS Raleigh have adapted this theme for their own ‘Escape to Twickenham’ event.
LPT Jenkins said: “We’ve been overwhelmed with the support. One of our first challenges was to cross the River Tamar without using the ferry or Saltash bridge. We were grateful to the Police who gave us a lift in one of their boats so we could tick that one off the list."
The team got to Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, where they helped serve lunch to the Officer Cadets and sang ‘Jerusalem’ on the Quarterdeck.
The escapees called at RNAS Yeovilton where they managed to blag themselves onto a routine tasked flight to Gosport from 702 Naval Air Squadron in a Lynx Mk 8 piloted CO Cdr Glynn Owen. At the Air Station the team opened their sealed envelope to discover their task, a detour to Conga around Tesco superstore in Yeovil.
The HMS Raleigh 'Escape to Twickenham' team were welcomed back to duty by Captain Bob Fancy, the Commanding Officer. With the help of the public and businesses they travelled approximately 240 miles, in four days, through nine major towns, by 13 different modes of transport to be at the big match on Saturday - while also completing various challenges on the way. They hope to have exceeded their original fundraising target to raise close to £5,000 for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. Thanks to everyone who supported them.