Event Review:The Welsh Warriors: A Front-line for the Future

Posted: October 20, 2011 in Business/Cardiff News, Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events, Opinion

With guest speaker Lieutenant Colonel Didi Wheeler ‘holding up the fort’, today’s Cardiff Breakfast Club meeting was somewhat unusual yet nonetheless an extremely interesting and successful event.

After last month’s slightly depressing announcement from Professor Robert Huggins about Wales’ business culture, I think our members were perhaps relieved that instead of focusing on business, Didi’s presentation concentrated on the strengths and positive culture of his Welsh Battalion – something of which Wales can be proud of (and my don’t we need it after this weekend’s devastating outcome).

Didi began by exclaiming with genuine enthusiasm that ‘it is great to be back inWales’ – despite having left his barracks at Tidworth, Salisbury in the early hours of this morning.

Regardless of being based outside of Wales, Didi proclaimed that his 600-man Battalion was 100% Welsh, the small commonwealth contingent of predominantly Fijians earning honorary Welsh status, a characteristic that is evident not just through the rugby abilities of his soldiers (with five currently playing in the Defense World Cup final on Friday, incidentally against Australia!!!), but more importantly through their courage, resilience and, above all, their ability to quickly build rapports in the most difficult of circumstances, using his experiences in Basra, Iraq and Helmand, Afghanistan as an example.

Didi endeavored to explain his experiences as a Commanding Officer, likening his role to that of a father where his soldiers would continually look to him for advice and direction. Although challenging, Didi remarked that this position was incredibly rewarding, knowing that the 600 men behind you will respect and support whichever decision you have to make.

However respect works in both directions, and Didi clearly has the utmost admiration for his soldiers. In addition to the heavy loads and extreme physical lengths his soldiers go to, he explained that a soldier’s job is 24/7 – even when supposedly in shelter one’s life can be at risk, as the nightly rocket attacks on the Battalion’s air station garrison in Basra proved.

Although their operations in both Iraq and more recently Afghanistan have been extremely challenging, clearly the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh has  risen and met every challenge during  the last four years. With the end of his time as Commanding Officer fast  approaching, Didi remarked on the tremendous support he and his soldiers have received on each return to Wales, making them feel all the more proud of their achievements within such a demanding and challenging way of life.

Whilst evidently having a resilient Welsh team behind him, Didi proclaimed that the battalion is still recruiting and he urges the very best of Wales to step forward for this challenge in order to build an even stronger frontline for the future.

Our next event will be held on 22nd November with guest speaker General Secretary, Martin Mansfield of TUC. For further information, please contact Becci Gould on bec@petersensone.com.

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