Regular readers of SquareTalk may remember the article in 2016 when Gloucestershire brethren travelled to the Royal National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas for the unveiling of the Gulf War Memorial. Amongst those attending were Norman Weeks, Past Master of Tyndall Lodge and later, Lodge of St Christopher, whose son, Squadron Leader Kevin Weeks, also a Tyndall Lodge member, tragically lost his life.
Back in 2016, Paul Willmott and Geoff Cave led the fund-raising from Freemasons which helped make a dream become a reality for all the veterans and families of the fallen to be able to visit and lay a wreath; or just have quiet reflection.
“I remember the day so clearly,” says Andy Down, [centre], Past Master of Kendleshire Lodge. “I was privileged to be invited to the unveiling as one of Norman’s VIP guests. Having served in that conflict, it was an honour to be at the very front of a crowd of some 5000 or more veterans and families. It was an emotional day all round, but helped me put to bed many things in my mind. I will always be grateful to ‘The Old Codger,’ as he is affectionately known.
“I recounted this tale to my good friend, Captain George Harrill, who is a military artist. He immediately offered to put something on canvass, purely for the cost of the materials! After a few months, it was ready.
“The picture has the memorial in its centre, surrounded by a wreath of 47 poppies representing each for the 47 souls we lost in the campaign. With respect to the Old Codger, we placed a further single poppy on the tail fin of the RAF Tornado; the very aircraft in which Brother Kevin perished. We can also see several armoured vehicles, a Challenger Tank, a 432 ambulance to represent my own Royal Army Medical Corp, and a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter.
“I was asked by a member of the NGVFA that, as it was a personal commission, would I consider having a limited print-run to sell to raise money for the families and vets. I agreed and 100 numbered copies were produced; we have around 40 remaining.”
The picture, held here by Brad Seaman, Past Master of Filton Lodge of Fortitude, was presented to Norman at Tyndall Lodge’s installation meeting, on the instruction of the incoming Master, Phill Robinson.