Staffordshire servicemen site blessed by sand

The site for a monument to Caribbean servicemen and women has been blessed with sand from the Scottish coast.

Wayne Howell, Stephen Disney and Noel Roye arrive at the National Memorial Arboretum with a vial of sand from Ayr. They are joined (L to R) by Winston White (Chair of the TNCMC), former Watford and England footballer Luther Blissett and standard bearer Kenneth Straun.
Wayne Howell, Stephen Disney and Noel Roye arrive at the National Memorial Arboretum with a vial of sand from Ayr. They are joined (L to R) by Winston White (Chair of the TNCMC), former Watford and England footballer Luther Blissett and standard bearer Kenneth Straun.

Two retired servicemen have completed a 12-day, 310 mile walk from the beach at Ayr to the site of the National Caribbean Monument at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas.

Flight lieutenant Wayne Howell and flight sergeant Stephen Disney began the walk by collecting a small bottle of sand from the Firth of Clyde coast, then walked 25 miles per day on their route to Staffordshire.

Wayne, who is retiring after 48 years of service in the Royal Air Force, said they had decided to walk from Ayr as that was where the first black army officer, Walter Tull, did his training.

He said: “In 1916, Walter Tull trained to be an army officer on the beach at Ayr, so we decided to use that as a way to raise funds for the charity to build the monument.

"We called it from Ayr to Eternity as the Arboretum is known as Eternity and did this challenge to highlight the importance of raising money to build this memorial.”

The walkers, supported by driver Noel Roye, both had previous experience with long walks, with Wayne having walked from Ypres in Belgium to the Cenotaph in London and Stephen from Nijmegen in the Netherlands to RAF Cranwell.

They were greeted by a large contingent of supporters and members of the National Caribbean Monument Charity, including new patron former England striker Luther Blissett.

Stephen said the welcome he and Wayne got on arriving at the site of the monument was the perfect way to finish.

After the sand was checked for any impurities, Wayne and Stephen poured the sand over the site of the monument, which requires £460,000 to be created.

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