Fovant Badges Society
The Drumhead Service 2 July 2023
On July 2nd The Fovant Badges Society held their Annual Drumhead Service since 2019 due to the pandemic. The service is always held on the closest Sunday to July 1st which was the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Not knowing how large the congregation might be it was SO encouraging that a near 280 guests, members of the Society, friends and residents joined in the rousing hymns accompanied by Shaftesbury Silver Band.
Twelve British Legion standard bearers stood proudly in respect alongside the Sarum and Tisbury Detachments of the Wiltshire ACF which added to the occasion which was led by The Venerable Alan Jeans. As the service is held in a barn close to The Badges the resident swallows and sparrows also sang their hearts out which made it even more memorable.
As the Guest of Honour the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton gave an appropriate address, the congregation also included the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, The High Sheriff of Dorset, vice Chair of Wiltshire Council, Mayors from Salisbury, Amesbury, Shaftesbury and Wilton, the Jerboa Troop Officer in Command, Squadron 11 Royal School of Signals plus 8 soldiers, representatives from Alabaré, Boots on the Ground veterans and Buddy to Buddy (who have helped to maintain the badges in the last year) and Dr Andrew Morrison MP for Fovant to mention but a few.
Afterwards, most gathered in the garden of East Farm, kindly agreed by the Williams family where tea and cakes were enjoyed.
General Sir Nick Parker and the FBS Trustees would like to thank everyone for their attendance and kind donations making the afternoon a special and unique occasion which will be long remembered.
Chair of Trustees. Fovant Badges Society.
A ‘Sit Rep ’ Firstly, may I say a sincere thank you to those readers who responded to my pleas for ‘old style metal strip’ lettering for a replica WWI field grave Cross; as it turned out our industrious treasurer Terry was able to source a Cross for the Drumhead Service 2023. But I’ll keep on looking and searching and see if I can’t make a WWI commemorative cross replica for next year.
By the time you read this, several of you will have been to the Drumhead Service itself and it is great that after three cancellations it is going ahead again. Hopefully the weather held and you were also able to see the Badges in their splendour. We are indebted to Kevin Callacher of KDC Landscaping Ltd. Dinton and his dedicated team for the rechalking of the Badges under Works 2022 contract. Due to the exceptionally hot weather last year and the ensuing political and economic turmoil which led to labour shortages, Kevin only managed to actually finish rechalking and weeding the last of the quota of eight badges at the beginning of June 2023. And now, at the time of writing, like the Forth Bridge, he has begun the first phase of the Maintenance Works 2023. Without the commitment and determination of our contractor we would be in a parlous state by now, so thank you Kevin and Team!
The Trust continues to be in good shape financially thanks to the generosity of our supporters and donors, and the assured management of Terry Lister our treasurer. We know that these Scheduled Monuments, to give them their full title, are held in deep respect as war memorials locally, nationally and internationally. We regularly receive donations and bequests in wills, as tokens of appreciation for FBS’s work in keeping these unique memorial landscape features ‘alive’ and vibrant. Legacies, gifts and donations are always acknowledged, and deeply appreciated; they ensure we have sufficient funds to keep these Badges in good repair for the years ahead.
The Badges commemorate not only the regiments, but more importantly the men who served and perhaps died in a cause few understood at the time. Theirs was a duty, and it is right and proper that today's generations look after these unique emblems. I am particularly fond of the YMCA emblem, as this was created solely by the men themselves. There was no regimental pride at stake; it was a thank you! to the staff and organisations involved under the YMCA umbrella, that brought succour to probably apprehensive young men and youths, who were quite possibly away from home for the first time, and for some the last time. A thank you! for the letter writing and post-from-home reading, the cinema, the YMCA canteen, the presence of moderating and calming female staff, and the Christian Fellowship fundamental to the YMCA.
Jose Green has taken to her role as Chairman with gusto, as you would expect! Through her we have appointed a new Trustee, Richard Lord, who has a close link with the charity Alabaré and other initiatives helping disadvantaged retired military personnel regain their feet in society. We have also had approaches from other local people and we hope to be able to strengthen our Board of Trustees and resume some of the wider activities FBS of old engaged with. It would be great to have a programme of talks and visits for local school children, and those from further afield, as well as occasional lectures to groups.
We have received support from both the local charity Seed4Success, from Alabaré, and of course the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs. All these efforts and contributions have helped make 2022 a significant milestone for FBS. We have established a new regime of Conservation Works so that re-chalking will take place ‘en-masse’ every six to seven years, and a two phase (May/ June, and September/October) maintenance programme enacted each year between.
Finally, you may notice some changes to our A30 Coindrop, yes, the WW1 ‘Tank’. As I write it is my intention to refurbish the Tank and refresh its paintwork. Those who have stopped there, (and I know why would you? you live here!) will also see we have two blue plaques on display. These are designed to help those who stop and are without coin or notes – it's amazing to find so many travel without cash – make direct donation to our Donations Account. Try it out? And to close here is a picture of some metal work found in the chalk on the hillside; what, or whose, might they be?? Answers on a postcard to...
On behalf of FBS trustees, Helen, Jose, David, Richard, Terry and myself, may I say a big thank you to Jan and his team at VILLAGE BUZZ for all their support and assistance over the years in helping keep the FBS message alive and relevant to the locale. It is most appreciated.
Leslie Brantingham Conservation Officer (and part-time scribe)
BLUE PLAQUE FOR FOVANT BADGES
A blue plaque has been fitted at the A30 Lay-by but not an official historical recognition one.
With so many people who stop to admire the work of their forebears but not carrying coin or cash, FBS are attempting to capture the IT savvy curious stoppers with this novel method of donating, to help support our work.
With internet banking now widespread a few taps and the money is transferred...
well we hope so.!
Article March 2023
A Dog Walker writes:—
Quit Spade, or I Rant….Friday at Fovant Down.
Strange things you see on Fovant Down...by the Famous Badges. The Pooch and I were taking what was a really bracing walk in the freezing wind and sleet over the escarpment this week when we lighted upon a crew recording footage for a programme that I'm not allowed to mention. Well not just yet, as I was cautioned, charmingly, by Ian Dirt-Paroquet, a very large rough looking man with his small spade. So as the judges say "Poi Qatar Intrude” despite Dog straining on the leash to join in like a piquet rat in road, .
There was clearly a TV 'personality' here, rather resembling an antiquated prior, in this arctic ensemble performance, and the rough man was demonstrating over several takes with some energy and skill how the other could show his prowess as a maintainer of chalk emblems.
Fascinating to watch the process unfolding, and the drone buzzing overhead too. Wonder if they recorded the giant NHS logo cut during the pandemic? No matter. Dog and I were freezing and hungry, and as crossword loving legals say at the end of a meal in Gray's Inn hall "Dinar Partite Quo !” and we left them to it so I could reacquaint myself with my toes and finger tips.
Will be watching the schedules in the autumn to see if I am in-shot anywhere....15 seconds of fame, well I guess that's the depreciating effect of inflation on Warhol's 15 minutes of fame maxim ..."Drier Op Aquatint”.
Pip Pip!!. ❤️ Mrs.Codé Paranoid-Quitter”
FOVANT BADGES Soc. News October 2022
What we’ve been doing of late…WORKS 2022
FBS have almost completed our year’s ‘repair, realign & stabilise’ programme for the 10 Badges in our care. Working with both KDC (Dinton) and charities Seeds4Success and Alabaré we hope that all 10 of our Badges will be shining bright in the evening sunlight by December.
Good progress was made over the summer and what a summer! but the conditions became untenable; full sun, facing white chalk. Work stopped for 6 weeks. Lack of labour (Covid & Brexit) delayed matters further. KDC used innovative methods on the sward (a Flymo) and a rotavator on larger chalk areas. KDC are working to finish the two remaining badges ACMF and PORI. Stop at our A30 lay-bys and admire them, knowing the hard graft that goes into maintaining what you see; these wonderful scheduled moments and memorials to our forefathers. Don’t forget the Coin Drop when you’re there!
S4S and Local Veterans charity and Fovant Badges The charity Seeds4Success helped on CENT by using the hillside as an opportunity for its young charges to gain experience and establish self confidence in dealing with challenges by weeding some of our Badges. The CENT emblem hosted our famous Fovant Flaming Crown J70 Beacon.
Signals and Poppy (ROYS and CENT) were looking tatty by autumn so they have been done again, enlisting the sterling help of a Salisbury based national charity, Alabaré. In no time at all arrangement were made and nine ex-Armed Forces personnel started on 20th September as part of the ‘Boots on the Ground’ programme which is focused on helping veterans improve their mental and physical wellbeing by taking part in activities in the outdoors. www.alabare.co.uk
And Onward! By the end of 2022 all our 10 badges will be re-chalked, and ready for a few years rest as it were. FBS now plan to run the Badges on a Planned Maintenance/TLC basis until another major rechalking exercise is needed. Next year we aim to broaden the appeal and reach of FBS and if at any time you would like to help (and I stress that whilst anyone who would like to actually do some physical work on our badges would be welcome, and you wont get a better ‘office view!’, we would really like to hear from people who would like to help organise and run the Charity in any capacity). We are planning to run the renowned Drum-Head Service again next year and help with the organisation of that, and for anyone with an archivist / history interest (and here is a LOT of stuff out there) or an IT skills set with Social media, and time to do it, would be welcome as Flowers that bloom on the Down. Tra-la!
Leslie Brantingham — FBS - Conservation firstname.lastname@example.org
Alabaré’s Boots on the Ground and veterans mental wellbeing services provide support for veterans who have struggled in their civilian lives. The Alabaré team provide opportunities for veterans to take part in outdoor activities, building confidence, self-esteem and team endeavour. Each activity improves mental and physical wellbeing and provides the chance to share experiences and camaraderie with others. www.alabare.co.uk
What we did on Your Holidays - Summer 2021
As restrictions from Covid eased FBS, with the Royal Signals, embarked on a project to restore and re-chalk two of the ten Fovant Badges;- The Centenary Poppy, (CENT), sadly lacking in chalk from its original construction, and the Royal Signals Badge (ROYS), left until 2020 to be renovated as a mark of the Centenary of the formation of Signals, and the 50th anniversary of the creation of the ROYS badge. We all know what happened in 2020…..
After some detailed planning this summer, and some re-profiling marker-spray painting to correct the profile ‘drift’ over the years, Cpl Matt Mills of 11th Signals and his team of volunteers arrived mid September and began the weeding and preparatory works on ROYS, courtesy of Ed and Sue Williams of East Farm. Over the next three working days Matt and his men and women then shifted the 23 tones of chalk, placed from our stockpile into two borrow piles directly above the two Badges by Kevin Callacher of KDC Landscaping, Dinton. He was ably assisted by Martin Wallis who was allowed to drive the dumper ! . CENT was knocked off in little over a morning’s hard work in splendid, almost ideal weather, and then ROYS was tackled over the following afternoon and the next two days, rebuilding revetments, profile cutting and filling, and then re-chalking.
The white scars around these two badges will soon be absorbed by the herbage and the chalk will consolidate naturally into a cementitious weathering skin after a few rain/sun cycles.
We are always keen to hear from people who would like to help publicise, maintain, join a working picnic, or generally help out with FBS’ work, be it adults with time and inclination, 30 degrees in our case, or children’s school projects.
to get in touch.
Photos credit>> JC Photography Ltd.