A disabled local war veteran has spoken of his pride on Remembrance Sunday after his Reservist grandson pushed him to the London Cenotaph as part of the 2013 London Remembrance Parade.
Ex-Naval Petty Officer Edwin Thomas, 65, of Falmouth has lead a colourful life serving Queen and Country and continues to do his bit for war veterans as the Chief Executive of the British Ex-Services Wheelchair Sports Association (BEWSA).
He takes part in the London Remembrance Parade every year as part of the charity work he does for BEWSA. This year he was brimming with pride as his grandson, Rifleman Connor Oldfield, who has recently enlisted with D Company, 6 Rifles, took part, pushing his wheelchair to the Cenotaph.
“It was really good to see Connor come along for the first time and experience the parade as a member of the military. I was so proud of him, I think joining the Reserves is the best decision he’s ever made,” he said.
“He has only been with the Reserves for the last year but since then he has matured a huge amount; everyone comments that it’s changed him from being an excitable young boy to a sensible and respectable member of society.
After 12-years’ service to the Royal Navy from the age of 16, during which time he served abroad in Singapore, Edwin returned to civvy street to work in the Wheal Jane tin mines where an explosion left him wheelchair bound.
He said: “Because I was ex-military I was supported well after my injury. I could have been a lot worse off – when I was deployed in Singapore I lost a number of navy friends, so I don’t focus on my injuries, I try to remember the people who died fighting for Queen and country.”
“That’s why I got involved with BEWSA 18 years ago – I wanted to help out injured war veterans and it feels like I’m making a difference to peoples’ lives.”
Connor, aged 20, of Truro said: “Pushing my grandfather in the London Remembrance Parade was huge for me. I was actually quite nervous to march in front of all these people, but it was a fantastic thing to do and it was great to do it with my grandfather who has always been an inspiration to me.
“It’s important that everyone takes the time to remember those who fought and died for our country and when I was marching in that parade it really hit home for me, knowing what these people did.
“I always knew I wanted a military career and when I found out about all the opportunities available in the Reserves I decided that was the right path for me at this time in my life.”
“I got laid off from work a few months ago and it was a relief to know that I would still have money coming in from my work with The Rifles.
He added: “I do feel that that I’ve changed for the better since joining the Reserves and I feel like I’m making my family proud.”