Pull up a pew for the Commandos

The remembrance bench made by artisan Fiona Laing and poet Robert Alan MacGregor Harris. Pictured from left - Dave McCaig, Robert, Fiona, Paul Burgess and Kev Parkin.
The remembrance bench made by artisan Fiona Laing and poet Robert Alan MacGregor Harris. Pictured from left - Dave McCaig, Robert, Fiona, Paul Burgess and Kev Parkin.

A couple of talented veterans have created a Commando-themed bench being auctioned off to fund a permanent memorial at Spean Bridge.

Crafted by Fiona Laing, proprietor of Heather Cottage Crafts, it features a poem written specifically for the bench by former 45 Commando Robert Alan MacGregor Harris.

The pew is up for auction online until noon on March 31, and the proceeds will be used to buy a permanent outdoors bench for the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge.

The pew originally came from Lintrathen Church and Fiona spent at least 70 work hours transforming it.

She said: “It was January and the shop was a bit quiet and the bench was just sitting in the house doing nothing. I thought I may as well do it for charity.

“We’ve been trying to reach out to military people. We would like to keep it here in Arbroath and it would be good if one of the messes in the town would put a bid in for it. ”

The eight foot pew has been decaled and hand-painted, and in addition to Robert’s poem also incorporates the emblem of the Royal Marines ‘Per Mare, Per Terram’ as well as the Commando Ethos on the back. Each end also features images of Commandos in poppy fields.

Robert saw the pew firsthand on Friday while visiting from his adopted home of Hammerfell, Norway: “The idea was that it would be an ideal place to sit and remember fallen comrades outside a place such as a mess. A number of Royal Marines have put in a bid already we are just trying to auction it off for more money and buy an outside bench up at the Commando Monument.”

Major Simon Giles, who has served at RM Condor for several years and is currently second-in-command of the Unit, said: “This bench is part of the long and rich connection between the Angus community and the Royal Marines. On March 29, 45 Commando will exercise their Freedom and march through the town which coincides with our celebration to mark 45 years of being based here in Arbroath.

‘‘While it would be nice for the bench to stay close to our home, raising money for the Royal Marines monument at Spean Bridge is very important and I encourage people to support this worthy cause.”

Bid via the Heather Cottage Crafts Facebook page or call 07763626508.