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The Bradwell Bugle


Posted by bradwellbugle on July 2, 2012 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Vere is one of the few remaining Dunkirk Little Ships. Of the 8-900 who went to Dunkirk to rescue British and allied troops in 1940. Only about 120 survive, and of those approximately 80 are seaworthy. So greatly respected are these that the DLS contingent was given pride of place on the Thames Jubilee pageant in June, immediately following the Royal Barge. But Vere was not with  them.





She is presently undergoing a complete restoration in Cowes, after twice narrowly escaping the breakers yard in 2005 and 2006. When completed, the intention is that, by 2015, the 75th Anniversary of Dunkirk, she will be established as a mobile educational memorial to Dunkirk, touring the South coast ports and the Rivers Thames and Medway to tell primary aged school children the amazing story of the miracle of Dunkirk in 1940.






In planning the Dunkirk rescue, the authorities hoped to recue about 45,000 of the stranded troops, but the final total was in the region of 338,000. Shipping from Destroyers to Little Ships, some even smaller than Vere which is 40ft long, worked together to bring the Allied forces home to the South coast, the smaller boats ferrying troops to the deep sea ships which could not approach the shore. Vere is credited with the rescue of 348 troops.



So what is Vere’s link to Bradwell-on-Sea?

During her restoration, researches into her history have revealed a fascinating story. She was built for the Admiralty in 1905 as an admiral’s barge, we think on the Dreadnought. In 1923/4 she was sold out of service and converted into a handsome “Gentleman’s Yacht”. Eventually in 1936, she came into the hands of William Charles Gatward Metcalfe who berthed her at Bradwell-on-Sea.



Early in WW2, in August 1939, Vere was requisitioned by the Admiralty for “ARP” (Air Raid Protection?) duties. We think, partly because of her location, that she may have been part of the small Mine Hunting Flotilla searching for the mines dropped in the Thames Estuary which had devastated shipping heading for the Port of London. By the autumn of 1939, the Estuary was virtually closed to shipping and the nation was threatened with starvation within weeks. The authorities were desperate to retrieve one of these mines to discover what activated them and were seeking them by air and sea forces. One was found in November 1939, dropped by German aircraft into the mud near Shoeburyness and, once it was established that the activation was magnetic, steps were taken to combat this very real threat. That is a story in itself and no doubt well known in the area.



Vere was decommissioned in March 1940 but somehow found herself involved in the Dunkirk rescue later that year between 27 May and 5 June. Little is known in detail but we are sure that William Metcalfe himself took her to Dunkirk and she has the bullets in her to prove it! Most of the little ships were captained by Navy personnel, but William Metcalfe, an ex Royal Marine, with, if our conclusions are correct, recent mine-hunting experience, was one of the few owners allowed to go with their boats on this perilous mission.



Members of the Metcalfe family have been traced and are keen to help with the search for more information. It is believed that there are family links with Clacton but we are also looking for more about Vere at Bradwell-on-Sea, and what the harbour area looked like in 1940.



So if any readers can help us with information or photographs of the area in 1940, the Mine Hunting Flotilla or the Metcalfe family please contact us on [email protected] or through this Newspaper.


Diana Penton

Hon Archivist to the Vere Project

The Bradwell Bugle - Festival of Song at St Peter's Chapel, Bradwell

Posted by bradwellbugle on March 12, 2012 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The annual Festival of Song, now in its tenth year, takes place on Saturday 28th April at St Peter's-on-the-Wall by Bradwell.



The chapel rings with harmonies each year as two popular Natural Voice teachers return with songs and rhythms from around the world.



Sarah Pennington and Gilo are well known for the humour and sense of fun they bring to song workshops – and the high quality of sound they reach with people who have perhaps come together to sing for the first time.



They love working with whole communities – rather than just choirs – and have worked with up to 500 people in large national gatherings.



You don’t need to read music or even think of yourself as a ‘singer’ to take part! Just bring your voice, and a bottle of water to keep your vocal chords moist, and let these remarkable teachers blend everyone into a cathedral of living sound for the day.



There’ll be a variety of song styles and traditions represented – in past years the Festival has visited songs from as far afield as the Ituri rainforest, with rhythms that have got everyone dancing and pulsating.



This year promises to be the same, with a mix of gospel, tribal, sacred, and some funky barbershop chords. There’ll be about 40 singers resident for the whole weekend, but the Saturday is open to local participants who’d like to sing their socks off and learn some great songs.



Workshops start at 10.30am and go on until 5pm with coffee breaks and meals and time to walk some of the sea wall near the chapel. Some people stay on through the evening for a candle lit session and the chapel is bathed in the warm light of a hundred nightlights to create a peaceful atmosphere for gentler singing.



Meals and refreshments are included in cost: £30 with lunch. £36 with lunch & supper. Concessionary rates are available.



Participants are asked to book a place through the Othona Community:



Email: [email protected] or ring Gail on 01621 776564

The Fair-Weathered Friend Faux Pas

Posted by bradwellbugle on January 7, 2010 at 7:19 AM Comments comments (0)

An Article by Melissa A. Gignac

A friend once bestowed upon me words of wisdom I will never forget. He said: “friends come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”, which rang especially true for me after starting fresh in two different countries over the past seven years. After moving from Canada to Australia for nearly five years and eventually making my way to the UK, I was quickly reminded of how valuable true friendship really is. In what seems like a short period of time, my two years in London have been filled with all of the typical critical life events-- including dramatic break-ups, subsequent heartache, employment loss, and the consequential periods of insolvency that on more than one occasion inspired me bury my head under the covers until a new day started. And whether sick with the flu, or crying over a boy who made me blue, there was only so much support I could expect with my parents and closest friends living in a different part of the world. Circumstances like these not only made me value the wonderful role my cherished friends and family play in my life but also helped me recognise how important it is to make an effort with new friends I found along the way. Whatever the reason, we all need at least one wholesome, high-quality friend we can rely on to be there in times of need, whatever the worst case may be. Friendship is so vital that we even find it included in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as part of a top-three under the love/ belonging category. In acknowledging the establishment of reliable friendships as a necessary priority, examining the meaning of a ‘fair-weather friend’ is a helpful first step in finding the most suitable people to fulfil our friendship requirements. In essence, nothing teaches us more about what we need than recognising that which we don’t need.


So what exactly is a ‘fair-weather friend’… and how best can we avoid them? Metaphorically speaking, a fair-weather friend is exactly as the term suggests: someone who is only around when ‘skies are blue and the sun is shining’. Taken out of a figurative context, this simply means that a fair-weather friend is happy to participate in the effortless good times but when the going-gets-tough this same person becomes harder to find than Osama bin Laden. One of my own examples of a ‘friendshit’ downpour includes a two week battle with the flu, where my ‘friend’ sent me an email claiming she was “sorry for not being there” when I was unwell, but that truth be told she “doesn’t do sick”. The question of whether this admission is entirely horrible comes down to one basic fundament: Expectation. The difficulty lies in the fact that we all have different expectations where friendship is concerned and it’s not unreasonable to anticipate the same quality of attention from our friends as we are willing to contribute to these all-important and special relationships. Granted, if you happen to be a free-flying social butterfly and enjoy having a billion acquaintances, lots of so-so friends and a handful of true-blue buddies, then this might not be a problem for you. However, if you are more of a social energy conserver with a lifestyle that only permits you to invest a small, but concentrated amount of time on friends, then getting it right in the buddy department is that much more important. There’s no sense in wasting valuable time on people who are only in it for the pluses and perks but ‘make like Houdini’ and disappear when needed most. Although we can’t always predict when a friend might disappointingly fall into the fair-weather category, by turning our minds to two basic questions we can avoid being ‘unfairly-weathered’ ourselves and hope that ‘like’ really does attract ‘like’…


Ask yourself:


· What do I expect from a friend?

· What kind of friend am I?


Quite simply, the two answers should practically be identical, and if not then perhaps it’s not only time to re-evaluate the friendships we are spending (or not spending) our time on but also reflect upon our treatment of those friends we depend on and turn to during tough times.


As a current example, identifying true friends seems especially important now considering the recent credit crunch that has everyone treading on shaky ground in some form or another. With a drastically changing economic climate comes a potential increase in social storms as we begin to depend on our friends for so much more than their usual sage advice. But looking on the bright side, this hard time provides an opportunity to not only reassess our financial investments but also encourages us to re-examine our ‘people investments’. Whether the trouble is financial – such as the loss of a job, or personal – like a painful break-up or divorce, adversity plays a key role in discovering who our friends really are and whether we might be wasting valuable time on high-risk/ low return relationships. It is equally important to choose new friends carefully and not rush into full disclosure about every detail of our lives. People are not always as they initially seem and waking up to sunshine is no guarantee it won’t rain by early afternoon… especially in a city like London. Taking things slow with a new acquaintance is wise and should involve the same caution executed when getting to know a new love interest. In fact, we might consider taking things that much slower, as romantic relationships come and go but ideally our friends will linger for the long haul.


At the end of the day, in both good times and bad, close friends serve as one of the greatest investments we will make in our lifetime and as such they are well worth the effort. The fact that there isn’t a Hallmark day devoted strictly to the celebration of friendship the way Valentine’s Day showcases love, simply means that everyday presents an opportunity to nurture our platonic pals. It takes little more than a quick five minute phone call or even better, a good old-fashioned handwritten note or card, thanking even one friend a day for enriching our lives. Showing a bit of gratitude is a healthy way to protect our social stock and ensure that our friendship supply remains plentiful for when we need this support the most. Life throws many curve balls and dodging these might feel like a full time chore; but bear in mind that once the dust settles we are sometimes forced to take inventory to discover which of our friends are still standing beside us… and the best ones stick around to help clean-up the fallout.