The Household Cavalry changed my life in 1959 and who would have thought that they would change my life again in 2022 with Walk+Talk - and for the better on both occasions.
Having moved to glorious North Devon in 2018, my life was turned upside down by my dear wife Christine, after 61 years of marriage, being diagnosed with MND and sadly losing her fight with the disease in January 2020. At this point being on my own, I found loneliness one of the main concerns of living.
Having seen an email from the Household Cavalry Association this Autumn regarding Walk+Talk, I contacted Robin and Chris who helped me set up the Walk+Talk North Devon group… and along came Kev, Simon, Andy and Phil (and hopefully in the near future Darran). This has given me a new lease of life and allowed me to meet other HCav veterans who, unbeknown to me, live within 20 miles of my home.
Nowadays, at 1100hrs on every other Thursday, in the Puffin Billy Cafe near Torrington, tucked around a corner table, you will find us grinning, laughing, or recounting a story from the past. We won't be dressed up or wearing medals and it’s not just old boys - we are of all different ages, spanning many tours and experiences from the Regiment. And for the record we are more of a Coffee + Talk group, with the occasional walk, as that works best for us.
My sincere thanks go to the Associations, Chris and Robin, for helping me set up the group and even getting me using a smartphone app to organise and publicise the meetings (not something I would have imagined a year ago!). This has enabled me to meet like-minded HCav comrades who are now personal friends, and who have helped me through a dark period of my life with the loss of my wife.
I see so many Walk+Talks happening across our community and I think of all the veterans, serving soldiers and family that are meeting up together. Some because it is a fun and easy way to connect, and some like me who have really needed it. So, thank you to all the Walk Leaders and everyone who has come along to a Walk+Talk. This is making a difference and I encourage you to get involved.
Image (W+T North Devon): (left to right) Andy Beck, Mike Middleton, Simon Ellis, Phil Mitchell, Kev Jerman.