The Baton – “a symbol of pride, hope, courage and suffering” that carries a message of support for the armed forces – has arrived in Gibraltar.
Its creator Alan Rowe and his wife Pauline are spending a week in Gibraltar with the aim of bringing more attention to the Gibraltar Regiment.
He wants the Regiment personnel to know that “out of sight will never be out of mind”, regardless of the distance the Rock is from the UK.
In addition, Mr Rowe, a 65-year old barber, is aiming to complete a run around the Rock on Saturday morning while carrying the Baton.
Mr Rowe set up the Baton nine years ago, to raise and maintain awareness about the reality of life for service personnel and their families to ensure that they are given the level of support they need.
He felt that after 40 years of listening to stories from military men sitting in his barber chair, he wanted to do something to thank them.
“I have looked into a mirror into the eyes of men who had issues from the First World War, the Second, Korea, Indonesia, Malia, Kenya, all the forgotten wars.”
Over the years these soldiers gradually opened up to Mr Rowe and he saw men who “carried the burden of conflict and the experience of conflict and they still try to do their bit to keep everything going.”
Mr Rowe wants people to realise that “freedom has never been free” and we need to remember and show support to those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom, as they are the ones who are paying the price.
In addition, he wants to give support to the families of partners and wives in the armed forces.
He said: “If you have someone with a prosthetic or an injury of the mind – the invisible injury- focus is on him, but who is holding him together? The lady. The children, the admin, everything that needs to be continued is done by her.”
Inside the Baton is a message on parachute material. When Mr Rowe decided on creating a message he had to decide how the message should be carried, he wanted it to be something military such as something from a helicopter or gun. However, a moment of inspiration led him to think and decide that the handle of a MERT (medical emergency response team) stretcher would be ideal.
The Baton went with Prince Harry to the North Pole, it has been in the Pentagon in Washington DC, USA and Mr Rowe has carried it as he completed marathons all around the globe.
There is more than one Baton, currently there is one in the US, Australia and Denmark. The reason behind this is because these countries forces “died together shoulder to shoulder”.
The charity assists people when it comes to their welfare, it does not ask for donations but still receives them, no money donated crosses a border. No person involved with the charity takes any money, Mr Rowe said even the accountant and solicitor give their services for free.
Should anyone wish to join Mr Rowe on his run around the Rock, he is contactable on 0044 1172303122.