Portsmouth will soon lose its living links to historic D-Day – Lesley Keating

D-Day 60 entertainment on Castle Field , Southsea. The Glenn Miller Orchestra UK entertain a huge crowd
D-Day 60 entertainment on Castle Field , Southsea. The Glenn Miller Orchestra UK entertain a huge crowd

I was watching D-Day veteran Ted Cordery on Good Morning Britain this week and was very moved by his story. He had joined up at 18 to serve on HMS Belfast, landing on Gold Beach on D-Day to witness atrocities like we cannot even imagine. 

Aged 91, Ted is now about to embark on one, final journey back to the beaches of Normandy as part of the Royal British Legion’s 75th Anniversary of D-Day commemoration.

They still have 100 places left for veterans who may like to make the historic journey and sail back to Normandy for one last time to pay their respects.

When the 50th Commemorations took place, I was lucky enough to accompany my late father, Ron, a veteran of the D-Day landings who fought at Sword Beach and also at Dunkirk and Arnhem.

My Dad refused to wear his medals at the Drumhead Service on Southsea common, attended by The Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Diana as well as French and American heads of state such as Bill Clinton. 

A very reserved man, he never liked to be ‘showy’ preferring others to take the credit instead. 

But he proudly marched, his head high and it was a moment I’ll never forget.

Ten years later, I had the privilege to run Portsmouth City Council’s PR campaign for D-Day 60 and met many incredible veterans who had served. However, their number was dwindling even then. 

Now with D-Day 75 looming, the British Legion is asking if any former veterans would like to be involved in the crossing.

This will be the last veteran-attended D-Day commemoration before it passes from living memory into history and hearsay. 

So, if anyone reading this knows of any veterans who might find it cathartic and emotionally cleansing to pay their respects, please contact the Royal British Legion in order to reserve them a place. 

I am not glorifying war, far from it, but it moved me to tears to see Ted struggle with his emotions over his fallen comrades. Without their sacrifices, we wouldn’t have the freedom we take for granted today.

What is the right age to teach children about ‘sexting’?

It’s interesting to see there are new directives in education where junior school children are going to be formally taught about domestic violence, sexual abuse, staying safe online, ‘sexting’ and more.

I am all for changes in the curriculum and the need to move with the times so to sensitively teach young children of these dangers and to keep themselves safe is to be applauded. 

Online safety or reporting abusive behaviour is one thing, as is learning about what a healthy relationship consists of, but how are schools going to approach ‘sexting’ with children still at junior school? Are children that age emotionally mature enough to assimilate this information properly?

The need to be ready for the beach trumps any pain

All in all, I’m pretty fit. I take three yoga classes a week. I walk the dog twice daily too.

So, when an opportunity to try a ballet-based Barre Concept class presented itself, I thought ‘why not’? 

After all, I’d spent several years learning ballet as a child. How hard could it be?

Well, the answer was ‘very’! 

I cannot believe how much sweat-inducing pain resulted from the deceptively tiny, repetitive muscle movements. I could barely walk the next day and I’m still wincing when I sit down. 

However, I’m going back again. I’d love to say it was just because I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I did, but having to wear a bikini soon was the best incentive. Pray for me.