The Paviors’ Master always takes great pleasure in visiting the Company’s Military Affiliates. In the spring of 2022, Master Neil Sandberg visited HMS Argyll. The Master had been due to sail back with the ship from Hamburg but, due to a technical fault, this was cancelled and the refit at HM Naval Base Devonport was started earlier than initially planned. At the time of the visit, the ship had already started being stripped ready for the upgrade. However, the Master was fortunate enough to be shown around the ship and attend an address by the Captain, Charlie Wheen, to the ship’s company where the Sailor of the Term awards were presented (there was no Sailor of the Year due at that point). Chief Petty Officer Alan ‘Sharkey’ Ward also spoke about his trip to Argentina and the Paviors’ Master had the honour of presenting the awards, which were all very well received by both recipients and their fellow sailors.
Sharkey is the oldest and longest-serving sailor on the ship: he has been in the Navy for over 40 years, with more than 5,000 days at sea. He is also one of the few remaining serving Falklands veterans in the Royal Navy, so he is something of a minor celebrity. He served on HMS Herald, the ambulance ship that transported casualties to the hospital ship, SS Uganda, and witnessed some unimaginable horrors. For the past 20 years, he has dedicated himself to charitable work, assisting other veterans. Indeed, the £500 awarded for his long service went straight to the Forgotten Veterans charity.
Earlier this year, as we approached the 40th anniversary of the conflict, a visit to Buenos Aires was planned in March for veterans and others involved in the humanitarian aspects of the conflict. The visit saw a dozen ex-servicemen (from General to Private) conduct a weekend of commemoration with their Argentine counterparts. The British Ambassador also hosted a dinner. Sharkey was the only Royal Navy representative. The visit was not funded through the MoD, so individuals bore the costs personally, and the Paviors were asked to make a financial contribution. This was over and above the usual contribution that the Paviors make to HMS Argyll but after discussion at the Charity Committee, the Paviors were delighted to be able to fund the flights that enabled Sharkey to make the trip.