I write to the Journal as I need to pass on a thank you to an exceptional, unknown lady who gave me a cuddle on Remembrance Sunday at our city commemoration when laying some poppies for 2 of my fallen colleagues from Afghanistan.

After the main service and parade I joined the many other veterans and ‘civilians’, (of which I am once again a part of and also classed as a Veteran), to lay two small poppies for two of my Military Police colleagues who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2014.

(Your Salisbury Journal photograph of the small crosses with two poppies laid in front of them were indeed mine – but laid by my four and seven year old sons on my behalf)

As the many people queued to pay their own personal respects by either just watching and reflecting or by laying a wreath, a cross, poppy or a delicate touch to the memorial, I waited with my two young sons and my still serving wife to pay our respects.

We wore our medals with pride and our boys kept watching us with great smiles and my eldest son stated ‘Is everyone standing for you and Mummy as you have your medals on?’.

The innocence of youth shone through.

I gave a poppy to each of my boys and asked them to lay them with the crosses.

They dutifully did, both with care and patience.

It was here that the lady and her male friend or partner, friend or husband turned and gently let my boys through to lay the poppies.

(The lady in question was wearing a black scarf with Skulls on it. I was surprised that she had worn it but it was not what she was wearing that I ask for a Thank You)

I was overcome with emotion, not only at how my young boys had stood throughout the service from 10:15am and did not complain, but also by the lady and her male friend who, whilst waiting to pay their respects allowed my boys to get to the memorial.

I unashamedly began to cry with sadness at the thought of my friends loss and that of all who have given or had their lives cut short by conflicts and war.

On that bright winter morning, she turned to me, looked at my medals and said "I feel that I just need to cuddle you".

She did.

It was amazing and selfless.

Her action was overpowering and I was so overcome I could not talk.

Her quiet words of "thank you for your service" into my ear and "sorry for what you have lost" was comforting.

My tears began and I could not speak.

She held me and I her.

An unknown lady whose action meant more than my medals and any commendation or statement ever made to me.

My wife, my sons and her partner looked on as we both wept.

I need to say thank you and I only have this letter to you to pass that on.

War and conflicts are the last resort.

But the power of reflection and the human act of Remembrance, especially on such a special Remembrance Day, was amazing.

She did not know me.

She did not know my friends, but that cuddle made my struggles mean something, and I took away from her that my friends sacrifice also meant something to this amazing unknown lady.

To her I say ’Thank You’.

Not just for my cuddle, but for her words of comfort and for remembering my friends.

I ask the Salisbury Journal if you can, in some small space in our local paper, pass on a note or message from a man she never knew or may never see again to say that Thank You on my behalf.


Lloyd - A Veteran