I hope you all took part in 2 minutes of silence as the clock struck 11am this morning, to remember all of those who have lost their lives whilst fighting for our country.
I wanted to talk to you about something that is very close to my heart.
I grew up alongside the Lewis family, they are an amazing family and have been through so much recently. Conrad was their eldest son out of three. He was full of energy, so positive and never failed to make you laugh. He was a very talented young man, and was inspired by his dad Tony Lewis who served in the Army. So he decided to sign up just as his father did.
Conrad was in the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment and was 4 months into his tour when he was killed on 9th February, 2011 alongside his colleague Private Lewis Hendry. When I heard the news, I was devastated. The world had lost an incredible young man.
Since his death, his family have set up a charity called 353 in honour of Conrad as he was the 353rd British soldier to be killed out in Afghanistan. 353 is a charitable trust with the aim of helping members of the military community by delivering long-term support to a variety of charities, soldiers and their families. They also guide and support mourning families who want to raise money for charities in the name of the person they have lost. To make as big a difference as possible, their ultimate mission is to become a recognised force for good worldwide through partnerships with other organisations. This will enable them to achieve their objective of providing a career and income within 353 for those affected by military conflict.
One amazing charity that 353 supports, Nowzad. Nowzad Dogs was sent up by Pen Farthing in 2007. Pen Farthing was a Royal Marine and was based in Now Zad where he served in the on operations. They realised that it wasn’t just the local people who needed their help, it was animals too. They rescue stray and adopted dogs and other animals in Afghanistan, raise money, give vital vaccinations and get them shipped out of the country to their new loving homes across the world. Nowzad Dogs operates the only official animal shelter in Afghanistan located just outside of Kabul and supported by a small animal clinic headed up by ex-pat Louise and her team of Afghan nationals.
Whilst Conrad was out in Afghanistan, he befriended a beautiful stray dog who is now known as Peg. Conrad mentioned Peg in the letters he sent back home to his family, so when he passed their first mission was to bring Peg home. With help from Nowzad, they managed to locate her and get her back to the UK. She now brings comfort to the Lewis family, knowing that she made a difference to his time out in Afghanistan (http://www.nowzad.com/pegasus-aka-sb-daisy/).
353 support other charities as well including Troop Aid, The Parachute Regiment Charity & The Afghanistan Trust. All the money that they raise go to extremely worthwhile causes.
If you would like to donate to 353 then please visit their website http://www.353.org.uk.
Conrad, your legacy has inspired not only myself, but others too. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, think about how lucky we are and get busy living ❤
‘It is a person. It is inspired by Conrad Lewis. Who became one of the brothers of 3 Para. Who became wiser, stronger and prouder. Who became 353rd soldier in the their of Afghanistan to give up everything for what he believed in. It is about the spirit of youth. It is about having the courage to change what you can. And the wisdom to know what you can’t. It is about respect. It is all or nothing. It is a way to live your life. It is about getting up when all around you falls. So until the reorg, get busy living.’
Please take a moment to watch this video –