I’ve been privileged to have been a trustee of ARNO and the RNOC for over 10 years, and during that time I’ve been hugely impressed by the amount of support, compassion and practical care that has emanated from 70 Porchester Terrace during that time. The team, presided over by Mike Goldthorpe, has become even smaller during that time, but our engagement with the needs of serving and retired members of the Naval Service has continued unabated.
When I was a serving Naval Chaplain, and especially when deployed at sea, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the care that a Ship’s Company had for each other. Yes of course there were times when we rubbed each other up the wrong way, (particularly on a long deployment) and not everyone was everyone else’s ‘best buddy’. That said there was no doubt that people felt an overarching responsibility for each other, and had a care for their needs, helping in practical ways and offering friendship and support as best they could.
Last month the country saw the celebration of the 100th birthday of Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore. By any stretch of the imagination he is a remarkable man who through sheer determination and commitment has raised over £31million for National Health Service Charities, an extraordinary achievement! His story has touched the hearts of many and serves to inspire and cheer us in equal measure, I suspect. His is a story of duty and service which stretches back to his service during the Second World War in Burma. Yet despite his obvious courage and valour, he remains a very ordinary and rather humble man who has found himself in the positon to do something rather special at a particular point in his life. As we plod on through these weeks of isolation and lockdown, we can all feel tempted to become disillusioned and demoralised, often because we sense we have nothing much to offer in a positive way to the community in which we live. If we stop and think, however, I suspect most of us are doing something that is of value to others. Many in our communities are still out and about working. Think of the three emergency services, and those working to clear rubbish and deliver goods to our houses, and those who maintain the power and water supplies aside from those directly working in hospitals, care homes and hospices. The Armed Services are still very much carrying on, as are the emergency services. Yet even those who are not able to be out and about have an important supportive role to others by telephoning or emailing those who have little other contact with the outside world. The crisis we are working through as a country has shown both the best and the less edifying sides of human nature. There has been some thoughtless selfishness on the part of a few, but overwhelmingly the vast majority of people are expressing considerable care and compassion for those who are hardest hit by the virus and its consequences, not least financially.
ARNO and RNOC stand by to continue ‘to do our bit’ in support of the wider Naval family; thank you for your support and comradeship. We look forward to better times when ARNO members can meet and socialise – the Navy’s always been good at that too!