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Podcast script - Saturday, April 25, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise. It’s Saturday 25th April and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast.

Well what a lovely reaction to yesterday’s podcast! Some days a topic really hits the spot. Yesterday my phone didn’t stop buzzing. People stopped me in the street, sent me emails, called me up. Those who knew Glenn Harwood really appreciated hearing some new stories about his life. Even those that had never met him, appreciated hearing about a man who had such an impact on his country and then turned his attention to serving his Village, his District and finally his County.

Our son Jonny called me at 06:45 yesterday morning. He knew Glenn well and he had listened to the podcast on his way to work. Glenn was one of his inspirations for joining the army, and then for signing up with the Royal Signals when he left Sandhurst. Jonny had two corrections to make. To be honest, Jonny is getting a bit like Aitch.

Firstly, the Royal Signals Lanyard challenge. Yes it is 40 miles and yes it is a 40 pound ruck sack. But no self respecting solider should take 40 hours to do that. When Jonny did the challenge, the worst team did the 40 miles in 26 hours. Jonny’s team did it is 13 hours.

Think about it. The average walker on a ramble will do 3 miles an hour at normal pace. Jonny’s team averaged more than 3 miles an hour for 13 hours straight with 40 pound rucksacks on their backs. That’s 80,000 steps each. No wonder they had stress fractures in their feet. The whole point of the challenge is that you have to carry the army’s communications equipment where ever it needs to go. You can’t take 40 hours to get there! The competition has been going for 40 years and the record is 9 hrs 41 minutes to cover 40 miles. Jonny pull your socks up son!

The second correction from Jonny concerned the revolutionary military doctrine that Glenn was awarded his M.B.E. for. Jonny was amazed. He had learned about this very early in his days in the Royal Signals. He had no idea at all that Glenn was responsible.

Yesterday, I called it the B.F.T. which if you remember stood for Big Effing Tent – typical coarse army speak. At least this is what Jenny told me. Well Jenny, things move on quickly in the Army. And as you know they love acronyms. Glenn’s development entered military doctrine as the BFOT command centre. Now very few people question what the acronym stands for as there are thousands of them in the army. Well B. F. O. T. actually stood for Big F. Off Tent, if you’ll excuse my French. One of Jonny’s mates had recently found the archive documents from 7th Armoured Brigade in the Gulf War where this was all being discussed. Jonny was delighted to have known the man responsible and will be doing his best to build on the shoulders of giants. And Glenn was certainly one of those giants.

Several people let me know of the delights of drinking with Glenn. What amazed me was then everyone described a different watering hole. Obviously many drank in the Star and Garter with him, some in the Swan at Newton Bromswold, some in the Conservative Club, others at the Station in Rushden. How many places can one man drink?

I once asked Glenn why he had joined a political party. It didn’t seem to square with his neutral stance as a senior army officer, sworn to serve any government. I didn’t see him as a political ideological man.

His answer was simple, you can’t make a difference as an independent. So he needed the backing of a party. The beer at the Conservative Club was much better than labour could offer, there were fewer rules and no silly committees. Most importantly, whenever he went into the conservative club, someone bought him a beer and let him drone on for hours. So conservative it was.

Actually, knowing Glenn, the facts never got in the way of a good story. Realistically, Glenn wanted to make a difference. The conservatives have been the leading party in East Northants for years. Glenn was just hitching his wagon to a winning horse.

When I spoke to my mother yesterday, she’d heard the podcast and remembered Glenn fondly. Whenever they came down to stay with us, we would go to the pub on a Friday evening for a meal and Glenn would be in there holding forth. My father and Glenn got on famously. Glenn was a shooting man and his dogs five and six were working dogs.

Now my Dad, loves game birds to eat. When I was a child, he often came back from the pub at Christmas with a brace of pheasants from a man I thought was called Mr. Poacher. It was years before it dawned on me that our Christmas dinner had been provided by the Earl of Dudley without him even knowing it.

When Glenn heard this, he told my father that he’d see what he could do. By Saturday evening, there was a brace of pheasant on our doorstep. Now after years of plucking pheasants as a kid, I am a vegetarian of nearly 40 years. Nevertheless, I found myself hanging pheasants in my garage, courtesy of Glenn Harwood M.B.E.

Now one resident rang to ask if she had heard correctly. Did Glenn really have a dog called Five. Apparently my diction isn’t too strong at 5am in the morning and she couldn’t hear clearly. Actually Glenn and Jenny have dogs called five and six. Now I thought this was following on from dogs one to four. I was wrong.

Glenn and his mate Pedro (him of the naked skydive) went off scuba diving in Cyprus one day. When they got to the boat they found that they had only one pair of flippers and one mask between them. But still they went diving. They had one flipper each and shared the air mask underwater. When they surfaced, the dive master, thought they were made an nick named them the dangerous brothers. This name stuck. Glenn was DB1, Pedro DB2 and then they were joined by two equally crazy mates who became DB3 and DB4. They kept up with their increasingly daft and dangerous escapaedes. When Glenn and Jenny returned to the UK they got a dog. A young puppy called Charlie. Glenn was adamant – no self respecting army dog could be called Charlie. Jenny said that the dog would be going on all the Dangerous Brothers escapades and so might as well be DB5. Glenn shortened this to Five and so the theme stuck.

So there you have it folks, indeed a legend of a man. But more importantly a man that the people of this Village remembered fondly and proudly of.

After Glenn died, Jenny was nervous about wearing Glenn’s medals on remembrance day. We all encouraged her for two reasons. Firstly, her husband has served his country, county, district and parish with distinction. But secondly and probably more importantly, she’d had to put up with it all. Jenny wear those medals with pride, you deserve them all.

Thank you