Poems written by serving soldiers who have experienced battle in Afghanistan, and those who bear witness to the aftermath of war, will be read to an invited audience on Sunday morning, before the Princess Royal presents the Letters Patent from Her Majesty the Queen to add the prefix Royal to the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett, the scene of so many heart rending repatriations of fallen servicemen and women.
The works have been brought together in a book entitled Enduring Freedom an Afghan Anthology, published by Fire Step Publishing in support of Combat Stress.
Lone Chime written by fifteen year old Jodie Henderson from Haydon Wick has been included. She was on work placement with Swindon Link magazine and attended the repatriation of Highlander Scott McLaren on 15 July with freelance photographer Richard Wintle of Calyx Multimedia.
It was an intense and emotional experience which Anne Bevis, repatriation liaison officer for Wootton Bassett Royal British Legion, recognised when she said, “I think the poem this young girl wrote is wonderful. It always seems to be the bad things we hear about our youth of today and it is so heartening to see that one so young was touched by the sight she witnessed that day. Jodie’s words were obviously so spontaneous and genuine."
The McLaren family included the poem in Scott’s funeral ceremony in Edinburgh on 26 July after it was published at swindonlink.com
Jodie’s work will be included in an anthology published by Tommies Guides with a forward by former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion.
Below, Scott McLaren’s parents paying tribute to their son in Wootton Bassett on 15 July. Calyx Multimedia
People lined up by the roadside,
As the church bell rang out loud,
The lone chimes for the soldier
Remembered by the crowd.
The cortage drove by with honour,
Flags and heads bowed in unity,
Respect for his ultimate sacrifice,
Was present all around me.
The grief of the people,
The emotion of the day,
I couldn’t continue taking photographs,
Couldn’t capture the pain this way.
The silence was overwhelming,
I didn’t want to cry,
But I found it so unbearable,
Witnessing a family’s goodbyes.
A stranger passed me a tissue,
She noticed my upset,
That day at Wootton Bassett,
I will never forget