Between 19th-29th November, 17 veterans and serving personnel trekked 75 miles from Port San Carlos to Port Stanley. Organised by The Not Forgotten Association to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War, and partly funded by The Royal Marines Charity, the trip was the NFA’s flagship action challenge for 2017. The group consisted of 8 members of SAMA82, all veterans of the Falklands War, a further 7 veterans of various conflicts – including Northern Ireland, Aden, Oman, Iraq and Afghanistan – and 2 injured serving personnel from the Royal Marines and The Household Cavalry. NFA Chief Executive, Brigadier (Retd) James Stopford CBE, NFA Head of Events, Rosie Thompson, and medic Dr John Kay acted as the support group. Following the footsteps of the British Forces during the Falklands conflict, the team climbed several landmarks including Longdon, Two Sisters, Mount Harriet and Tumbledown – sites on which several of the veterans had fought during the 1982 campaign.
The route was tough at times with heavy rain and winds picking up to over 30 knots. Nevertheless, everyone kept smiling and the jokes were constantly flowing. As one walker commented, “the company is brilliant! With Guards, Paras, Royal Marines and the Royal Navy here the banter is flying.” What was particularly impressive was the way in which the group worked together as a team, ensuring that no one was left trailing alone despite the ages ranging from 26-77.
Summarised by James Stopford, the Falklands Trek Challenge “was a huge success. I, and the whole NFA team, am absolutely thrilled that 17 veterans and serving soldiers have completed this challenge. It was certainly gruelling at times and served as testament to the fact that the Falkland Islands can be a formidable place in which to serve. We not only honoured those who lost their lives here, but we all learned a great deal. The whole event was a fitting tribute to the memory of those who served on these isles and is an embodiment of our motto – From Comradeship To Challenge.”