Over 37 members and guests travelled from far and wide, some braving torrential rain, to attend the traditional annual Joint BRA/RBL/RAFA lunch at the Kongresshaus, Zurich, on 5 November. The lunch is held each year not only for the pleasure of a fine meal in good company but also to pay tribute to the work, past and present, of British and Commonwealth Armed Forces.
Graham Robertson, Chairman of the British Residents’ Association of Switzerland formally welcomed those attending, followed by short speeches from Jonathan Elzingre, Chairman of the Royal British Legion Swiss Branch and Jonathan Pitt, the Royal Air Forces Association Swiss Branch East Switzerland Liaison. Both outlined the wonderful work that these organizations undertake in providing welfare and support for serving and retired Service men and women, veterans, and their families in almost every aspect of their daily lives.
The guest of honour and speaker this year was Major André Comps, a regular officer in the Swiss Army Peacekeeping Mission, who explained with a most enlightening audiovisual presentation the scope and variety of his remit. We were surprised by the size and presence of the Swiss Army in peacekeeping missions, both comparatively and in actual size around the world. Not only was Major Comps very knowledgeable on his subject but he also had an excellent manner and way of speaking and dealt admirably with the question and answer session that followed.
Having flown in to Zurich from the United Kingdom, Sally Ramsay Patrick gave a wonderful update on the work she undertakes with the charity, Skiing with Heroes, which is part of the UK-based charity, Supporting Wounded Veterans (www.supportingwoundedveterans.com) The charity supports wounded ex-Iraq and Afghanistan campaign soldiers through a specially designed ski-based development, mentoring and job-finding programme. It was deeply impressive to hear her story of participation in an expedition to the highest mountain in South America, Aconcagua, with a group of ex-military personnel being assisted by the charity.
Not only did the Kongresshaus provide those attending with a superbly cooked and presented meal but the care and attention of the service staff was excellent, all of which provided for an enjoyable lunch event, commented on by many of those present.
Warmest thanks go to Joanna Koch and her team for the organization and execution of this excellent event.
Anne Spicer and Jonathan Pitt