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Podcast script - Friday, April 24, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise. Itís Friday 24th April and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast. Now a word of warning for you. Todayís podcast will be much longer than normal. I make no apologies for this, some stories canít be shortened. Get yourself a coffee, sit back and relax.

Firstly I must say happy birthday to Jim May of Duchy Close and also to Brenda May his wife of 54 years whose birthday is actually on Sunday. Jim and Brenda might have been married 54 years, but neither of them can say for certain when they met. They were both born in the same hospital in Somerset just 1 day apart and so it is possible that their cots were next to each other in the hospital nursery. They certainly met at the age of 6 as they started the same Sunday school together, just one week apart. And they are still together today. Now that is staying power! Which one deserves the medal? Who knows but Happy Birthday to you both. Today is a special day for Brenda as she can boast that once again, she is younger than Jim.

Thank you to everyone who managed to overcome our technical problems to listen to the broadcast yesterday. We had some great feedback from the podcast.

The overwhelming view is YES to a flagpole. However, there are many different views on where it, or even they, should be sited. There was a strong view that we needed at least 2 or may be even 3 flagpoles. Now that I have lit the blue touch paper, I will retire, and let the Parish Council sort it out. Thatís what they are there for afterall!

The reaction to Miss Mary Helen Simpson, MBE, of Chelveston was fantastic. What a girl. The general conclusion was that the lady was a star and that we should be proud to live in the same Village as she did.

Jenny Harwood made a special journey to the Churchyard to spend 40 minutes contemplating the world and the contribution she made. It was a peaceful moment for her and one of contemplating the impact that a single individual could have.

When she did this, Jenny didnít know that she would be in spot light today.

Today the story is about Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Harwood M.B.E. or Cllr Glenn Harwood M.B.E. depending on whether you focus on his military career or his civic service. I said that Miss Mary Simpson MBE of Chelveston was a one woman storm. Well Glenn was a veritable hurricane.

Glenn and Jenny first moved to the Village in 2004, but I first met Glenn in the Spring of 2005 at a beer festival in Yelden. I had walked across the fields to Yelden to have a few beers without worrying about driving back. I collected my tray of 6 halves and went outside to the beer garden. I liked to savour as many beers as possible. I was surprised to find Glenn sitting there with his dog Five. I had seen Glenn around the Village, but not had chance to chat before. Now was the chance. Glenn mentioned that he had recently retired from the army. According to him, heíd been serving at a local communications base in Bedfordshire. It was only later that I found he was the base commander.

Now I was interested in stories about the Army and said that Iíd become hooked during the Northern Ireland troubles. I asked Glenn whether he had served there. Yes he said, heíd spent some time there but no big deal and most soldiers donít tend to talk about service on their own soil. So I left it at that.

But months later, once I found out that Glenn had an MBE I wondered if it was service in Northern Island but it wasnít. It was only recently that I found that Glenn had spent 5 years in Northern Ireland undercover with Special Forces.

I then said to Glenn had he served in the Falklands? Yes he said, but he needed some more beer before he could talk. He came back with a tray of pints. He said in his line of business, no one drank halves. It was pints or nothing. So we started on the pints.

Oh yes Glenn Harwood had been in the Falklands. One week after the invasion, he was on a Norwegian ferry sailing South. He was part of the advance operations team. They were landed on the blind side of the Island and tasked with establishing a forward communications base in the hills to help the recapture of the Islands. His job was to yomp through the hills overnight for several days until they could safely set up the comms post.

Now as you know our son Jonny is in the Army, serving in the same Corps as Glenn, the Royal Signals. They have the annual lanyard challenge when the soldiers attempt to march 40 miles in 40 hours carrying 40lb ruck sacks. The first couple of hours are easy. The rest are a killer. When Jonny did it he suffered stress fractures to his feet, but still got through.

Glenn had been warned by his quartermaster that he must not lose any of his kit or he would pay personally from his wages. He was carrying his own clothes and rations, his own comms kit and the operational kit for his brigade. It was all too much for a night time hike behind enemy lines. So Glenn stripped. He wore only the clothes that didnít smell and everything else he didnít need was put into a plastic bag which he buried.

When the conflict ended, Glenn went back and dug up his plastic bag. He wrapped it again and then posted it back to Jenny in the UK. She hadnít heard from him in 2 months but the first parcel she received contained a warning. DO NOT OPEN THESE BAGS. Like a good army wife, she didnít. So when Glenn returned he was able to take the foetid mass of stinking clothes back to his quartermaster. Not even a sock was missing and Glennís pay cheque was intact.

Well our pints ended and I said to Glenn that I must go home. He asked me to look after his dog called Five, whilst he went to the gents, then I could go. But Glenn came back from the gents with a jug of scrumpy. This was a 7.8% jug of scrumpy. Glenn was from Devon and he said that this was a real manís drink. I managed only Ĺ pint before I just had to go.

It took me 1 Ĺ hours to stagger my way back to Chelveston, and I am embarrassed to say that I threw up twice on the way in the hedges. I was a mess.

But as I passed the Star and Garter, the beer goggles told me quite clearly that one more pint and a packet of crisps was just the cure I needed so I went in.

And who was sitting at the bar but Glenn, Jenny and Five. Glenn had finished the scrumpy, realised it was opening time in the pub back home and had called Jenny to pick him up and take him home.

That man was a legend and well out of my league.

When I got back I researched Glenn Harwood and was surprised to find that Staff Sergeant Glenn Harwood had been present at the Argentine surrender and that his signature was on the surrender document. He was the most senior non-commissioned officer present. Again I wondered whether his service in the Falklands was the reason for his MBE, but it wasnít.

I talked to Jenny about it later and she told me that Glenn was one of a team that abseiled into the Argentine compound on the day of surrender to take control. They didnít know it then, but the compound was heavily mined. They were all lucky to escape with their lives. But in Glennís words, so what they survived, why worry, next . . .

Glenn never divulged what his MBE was for, it was no big deal for him. But yesterday Jenny told me. Glenn fought in the first gulf war. He was again part of the advanced brigade who had to setup the communications facilities for the Generals to command the action. The army hadnít fought in these conditions in modern times. Glenn devised the new military doctrine for such a campaign. He called it the BFT, the Big Effing Tent. He kitted out a whole series of armoured troop carriers with advanced comms kit and they advanced into enemy territory overnight. They would then circle the wagons and the team would erect a huge tent over the top for the generals and brigadiers to create their command centre, often behind enemy lines. It was this that Glenn got his MBE for Ė not the shiniest shoes in the army.

Now Glennís attachment to special forces meant that he enjoyed parachuting, a hobby that Jenny joined him in. Glenn was part of the Royal Signals Blue Helmet display team.

Unfortunately, one of his displays went disastrously wrong and he crashed to the ground, breaking his sternum and 25 other bones in his body. His heart stopped three times on the way to hospital. It could have killed him. But again in his words, it might have killed him, but it didnít, he survived, next, carry onÖ Glenn was skydiving again within 6 months.

Glennís last skydive before leaving Cyprus was a special one. Him and his best mate Pedro decided on a naked sky dive as a finale. They even persuaded our Jenny to join in. Naked skydiving is strictly forbidden. The three of them wore jump suits in the plane going up, but had nothing underneath. They stripped just before jumping. The ground crew had a huge shock as they saw them descending. Jenny said to me that more things flapped that day than she knew she had as she plunged towards the ground.

Now as the ground crew slapped the blokes on the back, Jenny landed a few seconds later. She had had the good sense to pack a pair of knickers in her helmet to preserve her modesty on landing. Now I ask you who deserved the MBE?

So life in retirement must have seemed quite tame for Glenn.

It wasnít long before he joined the Parish Council and made a huge impact. Then when Barry Saunston died, Glenn took his place as a District Councillor. When Derek Lawson retired, Glenn took his place as a County Councillor. Glenn was definitely our man of choice. He represented our Village brilliantly and steered our District and County in a way that will be hard to better.

During all of this, his broken back continued to play up and he had many operations. Then he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given three months to live. He beat that too. As as he said, to me yes I might have died, but I didnít, next, carry on.

A few days before he died, Glenn was at the offices of East Northamptonshire Council on the 11th November. All marched out of the offices at 11am in front of the flag pole. An awkward silence fell. Glenn was once a Regimental Seargent Major and a few seconds in his voice rang out . . . They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old . . .

Now I was sitting in my office overlooking the field where the air ambulance landed on the day that Glenn died. I saw it land and just knew that a legend in his life time had ended.

Glenn Harwood MBE, Councillor and Colonel we will remember you.

Thank you