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WW1 Battlefields Trek – Final Thoughts

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Since returning to Blighty from the Ypres Salient, the trekkers have now had a bit of time to rest weary feet and let the past few days sink in. I’ve been overwhelmed by the incredible feedback from the team, the people I am lucky to now call my friends. So rather than sharing my thoughts for once, I’d like to take a back seat and let my new friends do the talking:

 

 “What a humbling and insightful experience, unlike any other challenge I’ve completed. I came to get away from work but what I take away from this journey is so much more. Good fun, great group and brilliant guides, along with a reflective mood of what actually happened on this ground. I’ve had a brilliant time and would recommend this trek to anyone.”

 

“It was so moving to see rows and rows of graves of boys my age, and understanding that a separate family sorrow was attached to each one. I thought the inscriptions on the graves were very touching, particularly that of ‘Known unto God’ – someone knew the individual sacrifice they made.”

 

“The combination of trekking, history and fundraising for a very special organisation like The Royal Star & Garter Homes made this trip a memorable one… This will certainly not be the last trek I take part in and I would love to experience the last five days all over again.”

 

“This trip has been a truly special and thought-provoking experience. Beforehand I didn’t really know what to expect or how I would feel, but I can honestly say it has exceeded every expectation I had… Everyone has been wonderful and the mix of meeting new people, wartime anecdotes, and the physical challenge was just perfect.”

 

“This trip has been a revelation for me. Amazingly, we all got on very well together, in spite of not knowing each other initially… I knew nothing about the Flanders Fields until this trip, but now my imagination has been fired and I will be doing further research.”

 

“It has been a privilege to be able to say ‘thank you’ to all those who lost their lives making our lives safer and keeping our country free. Visiting some of the battlefield sites has been a poignant and moving experience for us all, but we have all used it as a sort of benefit by being able to support the ‘modern’ veterans in their time of need.”

 

“Learning more about The Royal Star & Garter Homes over the past five days has been great and has increased my already very high opinion of the charity.”

 

“I only decided a month ago to join this trek but it was one of the best last-minute decisions I have made.” 

 

“Good fun on trip and nice mix of fellow walkers; leadership first rate and knowledgeable on many subjects; helpful background RS&GH provided to pass back to supporters; walks were challenging but allowed me to visit some unusual historical site.” 

 

“Inspiring and thought-provoking, and in a poignant anniversary of the Great War, the trek was a fantastic reminder of what sacrifices were made for the preservation of freedom.”

 

“The huge numbers of dead young men; the sacrifice; the oh so poignant inscriptions; the NUMBER of cemeteries;  the beauty of them; the thought that had gone into the design; the individuality of each one; SO much devastation in such a small area…”

 

A huge thank you to these wonderful individuals, who made this a trip of a lifetime and the perfect way to pay tribute to the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War:

 

  • ‘Five Mousse’ Brian with more facts than Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Caroline who could relax at not being the organiser for once and provide charming company instead
  • Janice who single-handedly (or footedly?) kept Compeed in business
  • Lara – who would have run the whole trek if she could
  • Megan and Alice – the youngest on the trip but providers of the most intelligent conversation
  • The two Alans (Paul and Neil) in their special role of father & son duo
  • ‘British Empire’ Pauline with her Union Jack brolly (used for shade rather than rain)
  • Sarika who was the most determined to finish the walk despite being a wounded soldier
  • Stephanie – for whom the trek was a gentle stroll after her recent Kili climb
  • Sue, an example to all walkers, striding along at the front with Stephanie
  • Vicki, the lady who is never anything but the brightest smile (even when standing in the path of oncoming bicycles)
  • And our wonderful guides, Nigel and Tom, who lead us, educated us, motivated us, looked after us and were never short of being fabulous company

 

Thank you all.

 

Kirstie.

 

Our Trekkers would also like to say thank you to Kirstie for being a knowledgeable host and enthusiastic photographer.

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