Message for National Day of Reflection

Posted on Tuesday 23 March 2021

Dear ARNO members,

Unless it happens to be a birthday or other family celebration, I suspect that the 23rd March has until now for most of us been “just another day”. It has a rather different significance for now of course. A year ago the first “Lockdown” came into place, and life for all of us has been markedly different since.

We are asked to keep today as one of reflection, a time for us just to pause and remember those for whom the pandemic and the restrictions necessarily placed upon us have been more than just an inconvenience. There are many in our nation and around the world whose lives have changed irreparably, through serious illness and death. Not many of us will be unawares of someone who has been seriously ill and possibly died with COVID. On a personal note I have officiated at far too many funerals in the past year where the necessary rituals of mourning have had to be curtailed and restricted, adding heartache and sadness for families and friends.

The work of the NHS and other frontline services has to be applauded and our appreciation of them has surely been enhanced. The 23rd  March marks a day to look back, but also one  for us to look forward. The implementation of the vaccination programme has undoubtedly been hugely successful, and there are real grounds for hope as we move into the spring and summer.

Are there lessons to be learnt? Well yes of course, but I hope not too much “blaming” and “what if’s” as in the end that gets no one anywhere.

One of the most positive things about this past year is that the importance of community (even if its been virtual and by zoom!) has proved to be paramount, and that’s as true of ARNO as any group. I have a feeling that our organization will be stronger for all of this, and I hope that this renewed value for community will last long into the future.

I’d like to finish by paying particular thanks to Mike Goldthorpe for the way he has worked tirelessly to keep our community together and engaged over the past year.

Oh, and the one thing I did find out that also happened on 23rd March was that Handel’s “Messiah” was first performed in London in the year 1743. Perhaps listening to a recording of that oratorio today might not be a bad way of marking this day of reflection. It’s full of realism, and a lot of hope too.

Wishing you all a very happy and hopeful Easter


The Venerable Martin Poll Royal Navy

The Royal Navy Officers' Charity (RNOC) have supported
officers and their families since 1739