Naval Base Clyde delivers community festive spirit in Peninsula villages

    Chief Petty Officer Physical Training Andy Vercoe sorts out the lights for a Community Christmas Tree.

By Kim Hardie

Villages across Helensburgh and Lomond have received a dose of festive spirit courtesy of HM Naval Base Clyde personnel and their community partners.

For the second year running “Operation Christmas Tree” saw Naval Base personnel set to work to source, deliver, and, in some cases, help erect four gigantic Christmas trees, working alongside Community Councils.

Taking delivery of trees this year are: Garelochhead; Rhu and Shandon; Cove and Kilcreggan, and Rosneath and Clynder.

Royal Marines from 43 Commando were joined by Royal Navy staff from the HMNB Clyde Sportsdrome and HMS Neptune to help get the trees in place.

They all pulled together, even helping to put the lights on, before using their muscle power to get the trees up in Garelochhead and Rhu and Shandon on Tuesday, November 24. Rosneath and Clynder and Cove and Kilcreggan taking delivery of theirs the following day.

This has been a challenging period for all, and the arrival of the Festive Season will be greatly anticipated, said Captain Nick Gibbons, Captain of the Base.

“As many of us from the Base live within the local communities, this is our way of showing our gratitude to those who continue to support us throughout the year,” he said.

Operation Christmas Tree was a true team effort.  The 18-20-foot trees were sourced from MOD land just outside of RNAD Coulport, felled by Babcock’s Ground and Waste Team, delivered by base transport and in some cases erected by Royal Navy personnel and Royal Marines from 43 Commando.

Community Council members and partners from Argyll and Bute Council arranged for the trees to be decorated and lit, providing a bit of much needed seasonal sparkle to villages across the area. 

Last year, the Royal Marines were treated to tea and scones at Garelochhead, as a reward for their efforts. This year that was not possible due to Coronavirus restrictions. However, their efforts were still very much appreciated by local residents, young and old alike.

“It is lovely to see the Christmas tree in place in Garelochhead, which has been kindly donated by the Naval Base, said Janice Judge, who is the manager of the Garelochhead Playgroup.

“I work in the local Playgroup and our children and, I’m sure everyone in the village, really appreciate this lovely gesture, especially in these strange times we have been going through.”

Home to the Royal Navy Submarine Service, the Royal Marines of 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group and the First Mine Counter Measures Squadron, HMNB Clyde is one of the largest single site employers in Scotland and its biggest military base.

Royal Marines from 43 Commando and HMS Neptune personnel with the Community Christmas Tree in Rhu,  Garelochhead, and along the Rosneath Peninsula.


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