Baton's message about the Armed Forces is spreading fast
AN emblem of remembrance for the Armed Forces and their families dreamed up by an East Devon barber has embarked on an epic expedition to the Antarctic.
The Baton is one of the handles which was used on a stretcher at Afghanistan's Camp Bastion.
The charity was founded in September 2009 by Alan Rowe from Honiton.
Over the last three-and-a-half years, the baton has travelled all over the world, carried by people wanting to spread its message and raise awareness of issues facing service personnel and their families.
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There are now five in existence. The original baton, used by the medical emergency response team, is now returning to Bastion with 27 Sqn RAF who are part of the UK Chinook Force based at RAF Odiham. They will be based at the camp for the next 12 weeks to support UK forces in their tasks.
The plan is that the baton will fly with the crew on all operations including at forward operating bases and observation posts.
"This is a truly memorable moment for the Baton," said Alan. "After three years of the charity starting the first and very special baton has returned with the RAF to where it served on the battlefield in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
"The work that Chinooks do isn't always fully understood. As well as the strain on the crews who deal with just about every aspect of operations, some are obvious, but bringing back guys and girls badly injured or worse has to rank above the most difficult to handle in my eyes.
"I know I'm not alone in my admiration for the stoic way they do their duty."
A baton's journey to the Antarctic has also commenced as part of a re-enactment of the Shackleton expedition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the explorer's journey of survival.
Baton trustee and former Royal Marine Baz Gray has taken it on the expedition, which is seeing the team using the same equipment as they did in 1912.
"To say that I am proud to see the baton on such an incredible historic reenactment would be a gross understatement," said Alan. "This is one of the greatest survival events in history."
A baton, with GPS tracker fitted by the Bath University Electrical Engineering Department, was strapped to the mast for the 800-mile journey in a 22ft rowing boat across the Southern Ocean before being carried over South Georgia's most inhospitable terrain.
To follow the Shackleton Epic visit the website www.shackletonepic.com