Faslane patrol crews push the boat out for delighted Erskine veterans
By Gavin Carr
Royal Navy sailors from the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron recently hosted a group of Erskine Charity veterans.
Crewmembers from HMS Tracker and HMS Raider took nine of the veterans on a waterborne tour on September 20, setting off from Rhu Marina and transiting the River Clyde from the Naval Base at Faslane to Yorkhill Marina.
During the trip the veterans passed the site of the old Erskine Hospital – now the Mr Hall Hotel – as well as their current location.
For one veteran, 92-year-old Bernard Roberts, the Clyde trip was particularly poignant. The last time Bernard stood on the deck of one of Her Majesty’s Ships on the Clyde was in 1945 when he was part of a convoy of 70 ships bound for the Invasion of North Africa.
HMS Raider’s LET(ME) David Gibson said: “It was a real pleasure to host these veterans on board and to share stories from the Second World War up to the present day.”
AB(Sea) Daniel Brain from HMS Tracker continued: “It’s really important that we continue to carry out this kind of activity, linking present day sailors with the past.”
The waterborne tour came about when HMS Tracker’s Executive Officer, Chief Petty Officer Steve Bell, was in conversation with former-shipmate Jason Fearnley. Jason runs the Veterans’ Woodwork Group for the Erskine Charity and thought it would be a good idea to take some of the veterans “up the watter”.
Erskine’s Debs Dickson, who accompanied the veterans during the tour, said: “Our day out with the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron on HMS Raider and HMS Tracker was definitely a highlight. It was magical to witness World War Two Royal Navy veterans and serving personnel share their experiences within the military.”
The Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron are based at HM Naval Base Clyde and help protect high-value shipping on the Clyde.
The Squadron consists of two P2000 Patrol Boats, HMS Tracker and Raider, and are part of the Faslane Flotilla which operates the ships and submarines berthed at the Scottish port.
As Scotland’s foremost provider of care for veterans and their spouses, Erskine provides unrivalled nursing, residential, respite and dementia care in four homes throughout Scotland.
The charity also assists younger veterans who need help to begin the next chapter of their lives, offering social, recreation and training facilities at their Activity Centre and employment opportunities in partnership with Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Co.
There are 44 cottages for veterans and their families at the Erskine Estate at Bishopton with building work underway for five assisted living apartments and 24 single living apartments.