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” 

Commando Spirit – Nothing Impossible!

MallowStreet Conference
MallowStreet Conference
Commando Spirit

As you heard last week at the mallowstreet exchange I have volunteered to take on a challenge of a lifetime and face the formidable “Dunker” this September – A terrifying underwater escape exercise all Royal Marines face as part of their arduous training to gain their green beret.

I am asking you to do one or both of the following to support me and Commando Spirit in my efforts:

  • Donate Now. Visit my JustGiving page and make a (very) generous donation towards my £10,000 fund raising target and the Commando Spirit Series’ mission to help raise £6m by 2014 in order to help the Royal Marines in their time of need.
  • Escape the dunker with me at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton on Saturday the 17th September and help raise even more money to support our Royal Marines and their families in need. Register at Commando Spirit.
  • Excellent news – Mark Rowlinson (@markjrowlinson) has agreed to Escape the Dunker and I know a few others were very keen to join the action.   
  • A few photos taken by Bob Owen – Royal Marine photographer – http://on.fb.me/jK0j5d

So what will I be doing in September 2011?

Well, I will be trained at the Underwater Escape Training Unit and then I will be strapped into a fuselage 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!

As Commando Spirit Ambassador and former Royal Marine says:

 “I vividly recall my first experience in the dunker – my racing heartbeat and clammy palms as the waters rose around me. Although 100% safe it is nonetheless a great test of mettle, and a life enhancing experience for those who take part. You’ll turn up trembling and swagger out beaming, ready to take on the world” 

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.

The RMCTF has the widest purposes of almost any service charity – quite simply, the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund will help when others cannot.