GWR again links up with The Veterans Charity for Remembrance Day
Record-breaking Women’s Royal Navy Service officer Barbara McGregor joined Great Western Railway’s second Poppies to Paddington operation on Remembrance Day.
Barbara, who entered the Guinness World Records in August as the longest-serving female in the Royal Navy, travelled by train from her home in Bridgend to lay a wreath at London Paddington’s iconic war memorial on Platform 1.
More than 100 wreaths were taken by train to the capital as GWR again joined forces with The Veterans Charity to coordinate a Poppies to Paddington operation.
Following the success of last year’s event, when more than 250 wreaths were carried to Paddington, The Veterans Charity created a new Routes of Remembrance campaign.
This took in the whole country and featured 11 train operators, as well as ferry companies, airlines, veterans, businesses and private individuals.
Poppies to Paddington was created in 2020 to ensure communities within the GWR network could honour our fallen heroes despite the restrictions in place around Covid-19.
The arrival of the Poppies and the Remembrance service was broadcast live on GWR’s Facebook page as people were invited to #RememberFromHome.
Barbara, 62, who retired from the Royal Navy on January 31 this year after a career spanning 43 years and 189 days, read the Act of Remembrance.
“It was wonderful to be involved and a wonderful gesture from GWR. To think that a little part of Neath, Port Talbot and Bridgend could be represented in this way was fantastic, and it was lovely to see wreaths from other parts of the network arriving by train.”
Barbara joined the Royal Navy as a radio operator in 1977, serving at HMS Heron, Yeovilton, HMS Dryad, Portsmouth, and HMS Rooke, Gibraltar. This was later followed by the first of two deployments at HMS Raleigh, Cornwall, where she trained new female ratings.
More recently she became the Regional Development Manager for the Naval Regional Command Wales and Western England, which encompasses 15 Armed Forces Careers Offices.
She retired as the most senior Warrant Officer of the Royal Naval Careers Service but will continue to attend Remembrance services as a trustee of the Association of Wrens.
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood welcomed Barbara and other dignitaries to the Remembrance Day service.
“Last year Remembrance had to be very different and, working with The Veterans Charity, we ensured communities around the GWR network could get involved.
“This year we were pleased to bring people together again in this unique and moving act of Remembrance.”
Danny Greeno, CEO of The Veterans Charity, said:
“Working with GWR last year was brilliant and really helped make it special, so this year there were many more operators, expanding it even further.
“The pandemic hasn’t gone away yet, so this was for the veterans, who can see that Remembrance is happening in a very unique way. Plus it celebrates the deep links between the railways and the military.”
Lt General Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said:
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of those people who put others before themselves. During the national remembrance period Great Western Railway is once again commemorating the services and sacrifice of members of the Armed Forces along their routes who, by their very duty, put others before themselves.”
One of the wreaths laid at London Paddington toured the Falkland Islands with Tracey Robinson, a serving member of the Royal Air Force, including a visit to the memorial at Goose Green.
It was then flown back to RAF Brize Norton and toured among RAF squadrons in the UK before eventually being taken to Paddington.
Photo credit: GWR