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MP grins and bears it on freezing Falklands trip

Tuesday 24th May 2011 (Andrew Griffiths)
MP grins and bears it on freezing Falklands trip

THESE pictures show Burton’s MP during his week spent in freezing temperatures living and sleeping with the armed forces in the Falkland Islands.

Andrew Griffiths’s week-long stay on the islands began with an 18-hour flight from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

He was joined by a group of MPs and MEPs who form part of the All-Party Parliamentary Armed Services Scheme — a ‘mini Territorial Army’ for politicians.

The group spent the week living and sleeping in the conditions endured by all military personnel who travel to the Falklands.

“We arrived and received a briefing from the commander of the British forces in the island, which informed us of the military capabilities and objectives,” Mr Griffiths said.

Instead of simply observing operations on the islands, which are home to some 3,000 people, the politicians were thrown in at the deep end after being issued with military uniforms.

Their first group visit was to Mount Tumbledown, the site of the bloody battle during the 1982 war, where they visited a memorial to the British fallen.

This was followed by a helicopter flight over the south Atlantic which landed on HMS York.

Mr Griffiths said he watched Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets engage in training exercises and an Exocet missile attack drill.

Mr Griffiths said he spent the night on the ship during a force 10 gale, attempting to get to sleep in a mess hall which housed 42 sailors.

The MP said the biggest surprise of his week-long trip was a chance meeting with a military officer named Captain Claire Bottoms, from Barton under Needwood.

“It was amazing to travel thousands of miles to the other side on the world and find someone local,” he said.

“I had no idea who she was before bumping into her.” Mr Griffiths later met with the Deputy Governor of the Falkland Islands, before laying a wreath at a memorial statue.

He said: “The trip was a great opportunity to see the conditions that the military personnel live in.

“I learned not only that the islanders are completely determined to remain British, but also how important the islands are to the military.”

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