The Sandbag times
Having been 'born behind the colours' (as Mrs Fox would say) myself, the British military both past and present hold a very special significance for me. My brother served with the Royal Navy during the Falklands campaign, my dad with the Royal Air Force and both of my grandfathers were teenage tommies up to their respective necks in muck and bullets during the Great War.
I, like so many others, have great uncles and cousins who will lie forever in some corner of a foreign field, fallen with their faces to the enemy in defence of not just their own country, but in the quest to liberate millions of people who they had never even met.
I remember, as a little girl in Cyprus, seeing the Ghurkas, Beating Retreat and I asked my Dad who they were. His reply was straight to the point, "They," he replied, "Are some of the bravest men in the British army." - something I'll never forget.
It was with great pleasure then, when approached by Paul 'Pablo' Snow, editor of The Sandbag Times that I jumped at the chance to let Mrs Fox and the erstwhile/hapless/bonkers/indefatigable/slightly terrifying villagers of Little Hope sally forth into the British military veterans' community - if they can bring a smile to someone's face then the job's a good 'un! If you're a veteran yourself, a military history addict or - like me, perpetually stuck in 1942 and in possession of two gas masks and a wrap over pinny - do pop on over to www.sandbagtimes.co.uk and have a gander at all the latest news and views, you can catch the Sandbag Times team on Sandbag Radio too!
About The Sandbag Times and The Tommy Atkins Trust
by Pablo Snow (Editor)
The Sandbag Times history starts with the mess I was in when I left the Army 12 years ago. After 22 years, I was, well...buggered!! I couldn't sleep because of horrific nightmares and I was also living in a false reality. I perceived everything as being my past. As far as I was concerned I was living in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and all of my senses told me that that's where I was. I was suffering from acute complex PTSD.
After a number of unsuccessful suicide attempts and a broken marriage, I ended up in front of a psychiatrist who diagnosed my condition. From then things changed a little and I kind of came back to reality but started seeing the mess I was in, it wasn't good!! An Occupational Therapist suggested that I started writing my thoughts down which led to me writing the poem 'A Tale of Remembrance' and then going on to writing the song 'When the Killing Ends'. Both projects turned into the basis of the Rock Opera 'A Song For A Hero' which I wrote in 2011 in an attempt to let people know what veterans actually went through with this horrible illness.
I moved to Worcester in 2013, met a guy around here who had a recording studio and to cut a long story short we produced the show on stage in 2015. The Tommy Atkins Trust originated around then in an attempt to help Veterans online. It didn't really work but I kept the name and the idea. At the start of 2016 I was diagnosed with serious heart disease and put on the critical list. It turned out two of my arteries were badly blocked, I had surgery to fit two stents which thankfully sorted the problem and saved my life but meant for a few months I had bugger all to do. So, I started writing again. I used the old Tommy Atkins website to do a news blog which I called the Sandbag Times which was aimed at just getting veterans issues into the public eye, this turned into a small online, unprofessional newsletter which eventually turned into the monster we have now. I walked away from it last year for a few months due to the old illness hitting me again but restarted it in April this year. Since then we've had 3/4 million readers and have turned into something of a phenomenon. now standing as the biggest Veterans Publication in the UK!
The Tommy Atkins Trust has now opened a local centre in Worcester which works really closely with Combat Stress and SSAFA, this was my dream. To have a centre to stop veterans going through what I went through. Thanks to my very supportive other 'alf, Jane, the whole project is now working really well. Jane runs the centre whilst I work on the magazine, in that way I can help others outside of our local area and raise awareness of so many things.
You can catch up with The Sandbag Times and The Tommy Atkins Trust at:
The tommy atkins trust
Read our latest issue here!
With our Patron, Matt Neal, 3 times BTCC Champion!