Sister of Royal Navy sailor tells of her emotion watching her big brother return to Portsmouth

WAITING anxiously on the dock at Portsmouth Naval Base, student reporter Lauren Townsend reflects on her emotional roller-coaster of welcoming her big brother, Jake, home after his five-month stint at sea.

Saturday, 10th August 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 10th August 2019, 10:23 am

The sky looked gloomy and threatening above as I stood waiting with other families on the dockyard.

It would be my first time seeing my big brother, Jake come home from a long deployment on his ship, HMS Westminster.

The atmosphere was electric. A Royal Navy band was playing, happy families were chatting excitedly – children with their faces painted were waving banners.

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Lauren Townsend, left, with her dad John, brother Jake and mum Nicola Young. Picture: Sarah Standing (090819-2903)

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Smartly-dressed sailors stood on the deck, waving and watching the crowd as Westminster slowly came alongside. As if on cue, the dark clouds rolled back and the sun came out.

My eyes flitted from sailor to sailor, desperately trying to find Jake. I was hunting for a man with a big distinctive beard – it wasn’t easy, there were a few of them.

But eventually I found him and waved. He waved back. He looked so eager to get off the ship and after five months at sea, I couldn’t really blame him.

We had to wait for about 10 minutes while they brought the ship alongside and attached the gangway so the crew could get off.

Saluting and smiling, Jake then made his way off the ship, working through the crowds of emotional families and sailors as they hugged.

Jake’s welcome from me: a cheeky joke about his beard.

Jokes aside, it was nice to finally see my brother. I had missed him.

And I could tell he was happy to be home.