United We Conquer – We Survived the Yomp

Hugh EwartIt’s 1943. A young Hugh Ewart aged eighteen arrives by train at Spean Bridge. He is part of a band of recruits from across the armed services that have been selected to do the newly created Commando course on the Achnacarry Estate. On disembarking the train they are told they have to speed-march eight miles  up to Achnacarry Castle in under an hour. Failure to do so means being immediately returned to unit (RTU).

Continue reading “United We Conquer – We Survived the Yomp”

Mission Complete – This year I am “Surviving the Yomp”

Thank You for caring and making a real difference. Twelve Months ago on Monday 3rd September 2012 I took the leap and took on the Descent the Shard. Why, to raise serious amounts of money for charity, and to push myself way outside of my comfort zone.

This year I am “Surviving the Yomp” – the challenge –

You are 21 miles in. Your feet are throbbing and your shoulders burning. Your brain is telling you to stop and rest but you know you must dig deep and carry on. Every Royal Marine has to have reserves of physical and mental strength to complete the Yomp, the 30 mile final test in their gruelling training to gain their green beret.

Am I tough enough to Survive The Yomp and raise serious sums for Royal Marines in need? Please sponsor me http://www.justgiving.com/Rob-Gardner8.

Watch my short video of the Descent of the Shard to see the build-up, the descent and the incredible views of London from the top!

Commando Spirit’s mission is to raise £1million by 2014 for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund (RMCTF). As a result of everyone’s generous support and donations we managed to raise £25,532 in sponsorship which ended up helping raise a total of more than £400,000 and a grand total of funds raised so far since 2011 (including Escape the Dunker) of £653,491. The RMCTF exists to provide benevolence support to bereaved widows and families, serving and retired Royal Marines and their dependants, and also to underpin morale, efficiency and spirit de corps. With the continuing toll of casualties arising from operations in Afghanistan, the work of RMCTF in supporting our wounded on the Recovery Pathway is more than ever. Raising £25,532 was no easy feat. It involved

For those of you interested in the fundraising statistics – I had 365 JustGiving donations and several cheques which resulted in an average of just over £65 per person – A truly remarkable achievement. Thank you again for caring and making a real difference.

#RIP – Jeremy Paxton the spirit of adventure!

DCIM100GOPROOn a sad note my good friend and fellow descendant and shardist Jeremy Michael Paxton (1960-2013) passed away last month. Jeremy was a truly remarkable man who touched all of our hearts and changed our lives forever. Jeremy’s death has reminded me of the importance of living each day to the full, and to quote Abraham Lincoln “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

The Descent of the Shard (video) – Final Fundraising for Remembrance Day 2012

The Descent of the Shard

On Monday 3rd September 2012 I descended the Shard to raise serious amounts of money for Commando Spirit.   This involved abseiling 1,000 feet from the top of the tallest building in Western Europe with 40 other descendants or “Shardists” including HRH the Duke of York, Ffion Hague, Sir Chris Bonnington and yours truly, an intrepid pensions consultant.

Why did I do it?

1.       The challenge of raising £25,000 for Commando Spirit and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. A huge thank you to all 315 people who kindly sponsored me to date.

2.       The mental challenge of standing at the top of top of the tallest building in Western Europe, to lean backwards and step-out onto the sheer glass of the Shard with a 1,000 feet vertical fall below.

How was it?

I have to admit that, two weeks beforehand, the fear started to build. On the Monday morning of the descent, my mind was distracted by a client Investment Committee meeting; but, at midday, when I had to leave for London Bridge, the butterflies quickly entered my stomach. These were the most serious butterflies of my life. As I made my way to London Bridge to put on my jumpsuit, harness and safety helmet, the fear and anticipation continued to build.

Watch my short video of the Descent of the Shard to see the build-up, the descent and the incredible views of London from the top!

While The Descent is done, our work has just begun.

Many thanks for everyone’s support and ultra-generous sponsorship to date.  With less than a week to Remembrance Sunday, I wanted to make a final fundraising push to raise £25,000 for our heroes the Royal Marines.

If you haven’t already and would like to support the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, please simply donate online


A huge thank you and enjoy the video(s)!


p.s. if you missed Dawid’s video blog of my Descent of the Shard then check-out “Fifty Shards of Grey” 

One small step for man, one giant leap for man’s kindness – Photos from the Shard

Below are some photos from my Leap from the Shard, which took place yesterday in aid of the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund (RMCTF) and the Outward Bound Trust. A big thank you to everybody who donated!

Before the Descent of the Shard I felt a mixture of fear and excitement. However I was determined not to let the fear creep into my mind and just repeat the preparation and training from the abseil practice last Friday. It was a case of “taking my bottle in my hand and just jumping!” After the abseil down 67 floors of the Shard I felt incredible. It was an unbelievably unique experience.

Commando Spirit and The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund make a tremendous difference to the Royal Marines and their families. Commando Spirit involves setting tough fund raising goals and once-in-a-lifetime challenges such as “Descent of the Shard” and “Escape the Dunker” to raise life-changing funds for our Royal Marines and their families in need.

A special thanks must go to the incredible team and teamwork that made this happen. The staff at Outward Bound and Commando Spirit, the Sellar Property Group and all the staff at the Shard. However the silent heroes who made it all happen safely and on time were the Royal Marines Display Team, The Outward Bound Mountain Leaders and the guys from ‘Hasler Company’ (injured and recovering Royal Marines).

I have raised 59% of my £25,000 target, all sponsorship is gratefully appreciated! Thank you!


Making a bolt for the Shard

View from the top (guests)

View from the top (abseilers)

Descending the Shard

The final descent

Mission complete!

Leap, and the net will appear


Or, if you’re leaping off the Shard, perhaps it won’t.

On September 3rd this year I’ll be taking part in TheLeap, a challenge involving abseiling at high speeds down the newly opened Shard, the highest building in Europe, in the style of a Royal Marine. This is the second in a series of Commando missions organised by the charity CommandoSpirit, which invites high flying business types (their words not mine) to move way outside their comfort zones, and push themselves to the very limits, while raising money for the RoyalMarinesCharitableTrustFund. The RMCTF supports Royal Marines, ex-Marines, and their families after injury, trauma and death. Sometimes the support this charity provides is helping marines recover from physical injuries and trauma, while sometimes it’s financial aid for the families of those who die in active service. Either way, this is a charity that helps those who put their lives on the line for us. A pretty good cause, by all accounts.


Last year, I completed theDunker, another of the Commando missions involving the underwater escape from a simulation of a helicopter crash at sea. It may have been out of pity or as a contingent funeral fund, but my friends, colleagues and family helped me surpass my £10k target and raise an admirable £11,000. This year, I’ve set myself the lofty goal of raising £25,000 by doing TheLeap.

There’s something fascinating about the extreme physical and psychological capabilities of men; where are our limits? And what happens if we push them? Not many of us ever get the opportunity to really test our own, but here’s a man who has: PeteGossis an ex-marine, world-renowned sailor, and general limit-pusher. He’s probably best known for his impromptu detour from a solo round-the-world yacht race in 1996, in which he turned his vessel around and sailed it back into the eye of the storm to rescue a fellow sailor. And in 2008 he built a woodenlugger with no modern communication or navigation tools, and sailed it to Australia in celebration of the seven Cornishmen who made the same voyage 154 years ago. His heroism doesn’t cease at the physical, though.

Even considering the clear danger of appearing close enough to Pete for comparison, I asked him to help me fundraise for The Leap by speaking publicly about his adventures. I’m humbled that he accepted and I’m delighted to announce that he will be the keynote speaker at an extraordinary, one-time event on Thursday August 30th at Pinsent Masons’ offices in London.

Please support me (and my Leap) directly, by visiting http://www.justgiving.com/rob-gardner6

and donating generously to help me raise £25,000!


“They put their lives on the line for us. And when our Royal Marines need help, we want to ensure they get it. Take on a Commando Spirit Challenge!” – @CdoSpirit

Having walked away in one piece from last year’s exhilarating Dunker Challenge I am delighted to be part of Commando Spirit’s next fundraising challenge – Take The Leap, an eye-watering fast rope abseil from an iconic London landmark (and helicopters)!

High Flyers Wanted For Commando Mission

Bored of sitting in your office while the sun shines? Looking for a thrill that money just can’t buy? This could be it! There are a few remaining places for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t worry about fitness or fear, every step of the way a Royal Marine will be there!

Your Mission, If You Choose To Accept It….

To help Commando Spirit succeed in their mission to raise £1 million for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

To achieve this, each participant is asked to raise £10,000 which will be used to aid the wounded, provide a quality of life to returning marines and, in the worst case, to support the families of those marines who do not make it back.

Why Did I Accept It (Again!)?

It is not just the adrenaline rush (although that is fantastic), nor indeed the money raised for an amazing cause – the camaraderie and training received from the Royal Marines turns this experience into something I will never forget, nor regret.

I would love it if you joined us for this amazing experience!

Further details on http://www.commandospirit.com , latest news on http://twitter.com/cdospirit

If you wish to sponsor me, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/Rob-Gardner6

Many thanks from me and all the other nutters people taking part


per mare per terram

One week to go until I take on the challenge of a lifetime. I am both excited and anxious about next Saturday’s trip to RNAS Yeovilton and “Escaping the Dunker”. A sincere thank you to those who have sponsored me so far – I will post the photos/videos next week. This next week I would be extremely grateful to anyone who can help me raise the final £3,600 to reach my £10,000 fund raising target. Please forward, share, RT on twitter to anyone who might be interested insupporting this cause.

What will I be doing on Saturday 17th September 2011?

Meet at RNAS Yeovilton followed by training at the Underwater Escape Training Unit. Then I will be strapped into a fuselage alongside my fellow Commando Spirit recruits and required to escape from a somewhat  frighteningly realistic simulation of a helicopter crash at sea, in the dark, upside down, using the correct procedure.  I’ve been assured it does not take physical strength – what it tests is courage, determination, fortitude and teamwork, as well as the ability to follow instructions and stay calm!

Why the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund?

The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund helps Royal Marines and their families when they need it most.

  1. They aid the wounded and injured.
  2. They give quality of life to those returning from operations.
  3. And when the worst happens, they support the families of those who die in service.

Many thanks from me, Commando Spirit (@CdoSpirit) and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.


Thank you for everyone’s kind and gernerous support – Just Giving Page.