Shipmates reunite to bless their new association colours

26/05/12  SB''The Reverend Bernard Clarke receives the HMS Bristol Association standard from standard bearer Richard Shenton at a dedication ceremony held at St Barbaras Church on Whale island.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (121849-1)
26/05/12 SB''The Reverend Bernard Clarke receives the HMS Bristol Association standard from standard bearer Richard Shenton at a dedication ceremony held at St Barbaras Church on Whale island.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (121849-1)

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SHIPMATES from the last commissioned warship to see action in the Falklands reunited to dedicate their own standard.

Members of the HMS Bristol Association gathered at the weekend for a service to bless their official flag.

They filled St Barbara’s Church at HMS Excellent on Whale Island, where the Type 82 destroyer is still used as a training ship.

After the moving ceremony on Saturday morning, the ex-servicemen had lunch on board HMS Bristol.

The chairman of the association Peter Featherstone-Williams took his family along to witness the dedication.

The 54-year-old, from Brunswick Gardens in Bedhampton, said: ‘The dedication was fantastic.

‘With the anniversary of the Falklands this weekend I thought it seemed a fitting time to have our own standard dedicated.

‘It’s the pinnacle event of an association to have its own standard – it promotes our existence.’

Members of the association sang the national anthem before the standard was carried out into the sunshine at HMS Excellent.

A bugler played Last Post once the standard had been dedicated.

The former sailors, many of whom are Falklands veterans, then spent two hours on board HMS Bristol.

Mr Featherstone-Williams, who left the navy as a leading radio operator after 11 years, added: ‘It’s very moving, going back on to HMS Bristol.

‘Everyone remembers where they used to work.

‘In the mess you can still see the holes around where the dart board used to be.’

Less than 24 hours after being blessed, the HMS Bristol standard was carried with pride through the streets of Gosport for the town’s Falklands commemoration.

Navy chaplain Reverend Bernard Clarke said: ‘It was a great honour to be asked to dedicate the standard.

‘I was actually the chaplain on HMS Bristol for its last commission which was from 1989 to 1991 so I have shared the experiences of those who were here.’

HMS Bristol was the only Type 82 destroyer built for the Royal Navy.

She has served as a training ship for almost 20 years.