David served for 25 years in the Royal Navy, eventually leaving as a CPOME(M) in 1986. During his service he represented the Royal Navy and Combined Services in hockey and was the first non-commissioned officer to Captain the Royal Navy Hockey Team.
David also represented the Royal Navy’s Devonport Field Gun Crew in 1966, 69, 72, 75 and 78. On leaving the Royal Navy he set up his own successful business dealing in antiquities and retired from this business in 2003.
When David was Chairman of the Devonport Field Gun Association he founded the Junior Field Gun sport in order to promote the sport into the future and also to help raise funds for the DFGA Museum.
Junior Field Gun as a sport began to grow exponentially and eventually David founded Future Fit Junior Field Gun as a separate organisation in 2017. The new organisation was set up as a Charity and was formed with a Board of Trustees and a group of Patrons in order to take it forward and further grow the sport.
This new sport developed a ‘field gun’ run and competition with the equipment being made and assembled in the Salvation Army’s workshop in Devonport by ex-veterans, volunteers and help from the Probation Service.
The sport has now expanded into Gosport and Lee-on-Solent and is about to move into Portsmouth.
The main participants in the sport are Primary Schools, Colleges and Cadet Forces. It is gradually becoming recognised throughout the southern counties and is proving popular with Primary Schools in these areas.
Served 23 years in the Royal Navy, reaching the dizzy heights of Chief Petty Officer Writer. The highlights of my career were a two year posting to Italy (Rome), where my daughter was born; and, of course, three years as an ‘A’ Crew member of Devonport Command Field Gun Crew. The toughest part of field gun is being a ‘B’ Crew member. Happily, I won a strength test and was put into ‘A’ Crew where I stayed. My years were 1968, 1975 and 1978. In the latter year Devonport
won silver and broke the record, despite a 3 second hitch under the sheers on the run back.
My sport, before I joined the RN was amateur wrestling, which I continued doing at a club in Rosyth, while I was stationed at HMS Caledonia. Heard about a Scottish championship being held in Edinburgh, went along and won the middleweight division title. Left Caledonia and joined HMS Eagle, which had boxing training. Took up the sport and became the 1964 Far East middleweight champion. Was chosen to represent the RN in the Combined Service Championships, but couldn’t be spared. Like a prima donna refused to fight the following year.
The ‘Eagle’ PTI (Ted Glover?) passed on my details to the 1968 1st Trainer Sandy Powell, who managed to get me drafted from Caledonia. The track was like sand, which is why we only broke 3 minutes once at the Court.
At Earls Court, In 1975, there was a practice period at which the 1st Trainer put in a ‘B’ Crew wheels number to do the Run Home. Despite a request to do bits and pieces, because of the new member, he refused resulting in the wheels blocking the hole. No
check was given and the gun pintle crushed my right leg against the limber box. As I recall I shouted ‘ouch’ quite loudly. Moving from the stupid to the ridiculous I was then told to go to the hospital by bus on my own. When the doctor told me I had a fractured leg I asked him for a chit. In answer to his puzzled look I explained that my boss wouldn’t believe me. When the 1st Trainer read the note he told me to go and lie down. He came to see me later and explained that the doc would give me a cortisone injection, so that I could run in the evening’s performance. My reply was a two-word saying ending in off.
After 1968 I was drafted to HMS Drake and spent the next two years in the Pay Office. While there I was due to end my first engagement; and, to my surprise, I was offered a two-year stint in Naples if I signed on. Naturally, I agreed. I wasn’t posted to AFSOUTH, but to an Italian naval division that had its offices in the centre of Naples. At that time the Maltese Prime Minister decided to throw the Brits out of Malta, and they took over our offices. The Italian division moved to a transmitting station 10 miles north of Rome. I got the news of the move while I was at the transmitting station during war manoeuvres. About six miles away was Lago Bracciano, a rather large lake, which had a medieval town on a hill at one end (Anguillara) and at the other end was Bracciano, which became known world-wide when Tom Cruise held a marriage service in the town’s church. The meal was held in the town’s castle. The medieval town was called Anguillara Sabazia, where I managed to rent a newly built apartment just off the lake shore.
While we lived in Anguillara my wife and I became good friends with a Canadian couple, who taught English at a local school. My opposite number in this relationship was called Tom Jerry. One night Tom and I took a bottle of whisky and sat by the lake. Along came a local, whom we invited to share our drink. We all know that the Scots have a reputation for being tight, but the Italian told us a story that proved it to be international. In Mediterranean countries, at that time, it was normal to place a small display cabinet at the end of the grave, which held photos of the deceased. The Italian told us that you could tell a Scotchman’s grave, because he had been buried up to his chest to save money on the photograph.
After I left the RN in 1984 I got a job as Finance Officer, at the Harrow College Of Higher Education, long since merged with University of Westminster . While there I embarked on a series of business courses, which culminated in an MBA from Middlesex University. I had a number of jobs, subsequently, which ended with three years as a management consultant, working in Amsterdam and Malta, before retiring.
Gary (Jed) Stones
CPO Above Water Warfare (AWW) Gary (Jed) Stones joined the Royal Navy 1989, completing basic training at HMS Raleigh. He specialised as a Seaman Radar and subsequently went on to complete his practical training at HMS Dryad before joining HMS Broadsword in 1990 for a short period followed by his first full appointment on HMS Amazon in 1991.
Selected for transfer as a Warfare specialist in 1993 he completed Operator Maintainer training at HMS Collingwood in 1994. Joining HMS Sheffield as an Operator Maintainer in 1994 he completed deployments to the Gulf and Australasia 95. During this time he passed his professional qualifying examinations gaining selection for Leading Operator Maintainer Course specialising in Above Water Warfare (AWW). On completion of LOMs course, he was appointed to HMS Beaver in 1997 where he was part of Ocean Wave 97 deployment. Further progression saw him selected for Petty Officer AWW course in 1999.
Promoted to Petty Officer AWW in 2000 he joined HMS Cambridge for a short period as a Close Range Gunnery Instructor prior to joining HMS Campbeltown where he deployed as part of Standing Naval Force Atlantic. His next appointment as a Petty Officer AWW was in HMS Norfolk in 2002 and after regenerating the ship post Operation Fresco saw further service in the Gulf at the latter end of Operation Telic.
He joined HMS Raleigh Board & Search school in 2004, during this period was selected for promotion to Chief Petty Officer AWW. In 2006 he joined HMS Bulwark, spending two years serving the Royal Navy’s Flagship. In 2008 he completed an Operational Tour of Iraq as part of Operation Telic 13 where he was a Tactical Control Officer responsible for the engagement of the Land Based Phalanx Weapon Systems stationed at Basra Airport.
He joined Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) in Sep 2009 where he spent 2 years as an AWW instructor before being appointed as the FOST Coaching and Mentor advisor where he was instrumental in the implementation of a Coaching Advisory Team within FOST achieving a FOST commendation for his efforts. In 2012 he joined FOST Naval Military Training (NMT) where he became the SME for Ship Protection Force and Maritime Security Operations. He left the Royal Navy in Dec 14 and spent the next 30 months with Carnival UK as a Fleet Safety Training Officer, serving aboard the Cunard ship Queen Victoria. Intent on maintaining links with the Royal Navy, he joined the Royal Navy Reserves serving for HMS Vivid. Wishing to spend more time with family, he left Carnival for a new role with Motiv8SW in Devon where he delivered coaching and leadership training for disadvantaged and vulnerable adults.
In 2018 he heard the call for a Chief Instructor role at the RN Board & Search School HMS Raleigh, now under the Command of 47 Cdo RM and returned to full RN service.
Married to Mandie since 1990 they have two adult children. Jed remains a keen allround sportsman and having played football and rugby at ship level, he has hung up his boots but continues to maintain his fitness and enjoys circuit training. His key sporting highlight was representing Devonport Command Field Gun Crew in 1993 and 1998 where he was part of two winning crews. Passionate about Field Gun, Jed is a keen supporter of Future Fit and in 2020 was appointed as a trustee. He has a passion for singing and regularly performs at various service functions often raising money for service charities.
Sam has spent 20 years in education, working up to school senior leadership level. Her background is in Design and Technology subjects, but she has experience teaching and leading STEAM subjects across the curriculum.
She has a passion for project based learning with ‘hands on’ learning as much as possible.
Sam initially got involved with Future Fit by producing the CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawings for Guns to be manufactured using machinery.
Since then her involvement and enthusiasm for supporting the charity has grown and she is a familiar face at training sessions and events.
She now supports and advises on school support and strategic delivery of Future Fit initiatives along with getting involved in the manufacture, maintenance and delivery of Guns and training to schools.
Sam sees the value in what Future Fit brings to schools; providing something ‘different from your typical competitive team sport’.
WG. CDR Francis Reis
Wing Commander Francis Reis is the Commanding Officer for Plymouth & Cornwall Wing, Air Training Corps. Leading and managing 23 squadrons across the Plymouth and West Devon area as well as Cornwall. Raised and educated in Cornwall, joined Plymouth University (then Plymouth Polytechnic) in March 1977 as an apprentice photographer, remaining at the university until August 2015, having gained promotion to senior manager as Head of Marketing Operations. Francis joined 1225(St Blazey)DF ATC in 1973, completing his cadet career in 1978. He then joined the volunteer staff as Civilian Instructor until 1989, when he was commissioned into the RAFVR(T) as Pilot Officer.
On commissioning he moved to 1225(St Austell)Sqn, followed by a period at 2174(Estover)Sqn before taking command at 2377(Plympton)Sqn in 1991 as a Flight Lieutenant, in 2001 he moved to 197(Devonport)Sqn to take command and see it move in to new purpose built premises.
Promoted to Wing Staff Post in 2005 and to the rank of Squadron Leader in 2008, taking on the role of Media Communications Officer and Sector Commander duties. In 2009 he received CinC’s award as part of the New Hons list. He has also been awarded the Cadet Forces medal with three bars. He was awarded an AOC’s commendation in the Queen’s Birthday list in June 2019.
Francis Reis has devoted many years of his life to supporting young people in challenging and developing themselves through the Air Training Corps (ATC) and the Ten Tors event on Dartmoor.
Francis has recently joined the Future Fit trustees; seeing another opportunity to engage and support military awareness across the city.
Robert (Tab) Hunter
Tab completed 23 years in the Royal Navy during which time he saw service on ships deployed to conflicts around the world including: Gulf, Bosnia and Sierra Leone. Tab ran for the Devonport Field Gun A crew 6 times as 1st Swing and was honoured to be the Captain of the final Devonport crew in 1999, who broke the world record that was held by Portsmouth since 1984, with a record time of 2 minutes 40.43 secs.
After leaving, the Navy Bob joined City College Plymouth as a Lecturer and specialised in Teacher Training delivery as well as Engineering. Subsequently he managed the Marine Industries Academy and is now the Colleges Director of Student Services. Bob is a Chartered Teacher and Fellow of the Society for Education & Training.
I became aware of Future Fit and what they were doing to develop and promote teamwork and resilience in children and that they were keeping the tradition and heritage of field gun alive, through my longstanding connection with David Worrall, the key architect of the Future Fit Junior Field Gun.
My key role is to provide partnership support through City College Plymouth. I also lead on Future Fits Health & Safety and Safeguarding and support coaching when I can.
Future Fit junior Field Gun is all-inclusive and we promote that any child of any ability can take part. To see the commitment of the children and the way the work together as a team and respect each other’s contribution to a field gun run is fantastic. We hope that the teamwork and resilience they develop by taking part in Junior Field Gun will stay with them as they grow up in a modern British society.
It would be great to see Secondary schools getting involved and ultimately a national competition would be a dream.
In the running days of field gun, when 1st Trainers came and went, there was always a constant element in the field gun mix and that was Norman. A sponsor like no other sponsor. A sponsor that was passionate about field gun and one that sought no other reward than being able to assist Trainers in getting an edge over the other Crews. A multi-millionaire, in those days, who put his success down to the fact that he had been a field
Prior to being conscripted into the RN as a National Serviceman, Norman was on the verge of being selected to represent Great Britain, in the 1960 Olympic Games, as a weightlifter. However, once through HMS Raleigh’s gates Norman continued to train in the gym, lifting weights above his head that other men found difficult to dead lift. According to his long-time friend and running mate, Mike ‘Doc’ Faircloth, once it was known that there was a superman working out in the gym, 1960’s PTI Sam Bartlett persuaded Norman to go for a field gun trial.
By the end of the first test (the run) Norman began to suspect that the ex-field gunners, and the other ‘regulars’, resented the presence of a, mere, National Serviceman. This was noticed by the 1 st Trainer, ‘Wiggy’ Wigmore; who, at the strength test, where the men had to lift a wheel and throw it over a bar, asked Norman to go first. Norman picked up the wheel and threw it over the bar without it touching. ‘Wiggy’ then asked Norman to go do it again and again, which Norman did with ease. ‘Wiggy’ then turned to the other members
of the group and said, “Until you can do what Norman just did you’re not the man he is”. After that display of strength Norman was awarded a grudging respect. Clearly, Wiggy had sent the news of Norman’s achievements ahead, because when he arrived back at Raleigh, the Chief (GI) on the Gate (Len Mills) said to Norman, “Well done lad, now go and take the rest of the day off”.
Norman began in ‘B’ Crew with the name ‘Sprog’, which later became ‘Bomb’! No doubt because of the way in which he dismounted from the Trail after it was slipped on the way out. Training began on 1 st February 1960, during spells of rain and more rain. According to ‘Doc’ Faircloth injuries came thick and fast, with a dozen or so taken off the pitch within a short space of time. As related by ‘Doc’, it must have been a nightmare for ‘Wiggy’, because by 26 th March ‘A’ Crew was running with seven spare numbers. Needless to add, with hard work and determination, Norman was moved to ‘A’ Crew, where he stayed until his accident at Earls Court. During a Run Back, in the arena, the gun’s assembly under the rig was slow; and, as a result, the gun failed to travel clear of the collapsing rig. Being at the rear of the gun, and bent forward, the cross-piece of the shear-legs landed between Norman’s shoulder blades, laying him out. By the time the Army Medics got to him – and as field gunners do when 720lbs of shear-legs have landed on them – got to his feet, told them to go away, and finished the Run. Though pretty sore he turned out for the next Practice Run, but was in too much pain when he tried putting a gun over. X-Rays at the hospital didn’t show any abnormalities, so he was returned to duty. However, after collapsing he was returned to hospital, where further tests and X-Rays were carried out.
It was then discovered that he had fractured a number of vertebrae in his spine. As a result, Norman was invalided out of the navy and, while ending any prospect of Running again, opened the door to another amazing episode in his life that enabled him to have a more profound effect on the development of field gun equipment.
Prior to joining the navy Norman received the accolade of European Apprentice of the Year award, but even this failed to gain him employment when it was learned why he had been discharged from the navy.
However, motivated by the ‘can do’ attitude, field gun had taught him, he put up as collateral a nice looking watch (that didn’t work) for a truck and started working for himself, travelling round companies and taking away their scrap metal. His drive and determination to succeed – honed by his field gun experiences, together with a very astute business brain – put him in the millionaire bracket in a very short space of time. Again, according to ‘Doc’ Faircloth, by this time Norman had a number of companies under his wing; and, as money was no object, began to apply his field gun knowledge to devising ways in which he could help to improve field gun Run times. He introduced ball bearings into the Traveller, in addition to making it, virtually, dust proof, designed and made the Four Star Bottle Screw, designed and made the metal wall supports (adding the ratchet tightening mechanism) plus many other innovations all at his own cost. The number of times he used his trucks and money to replace or repair tracks are countless.
On Saturday 7 th July, 1990 an article appeared in the Weekend Western Morning News highlighting Norman’s contribution to field gun. My small endeavour is by way of another thank you to Norman, who continues to support the association in any way he can. Being in poor health, these days, and unable to drive long distances, he keeps in touch with what is going on at the Fort by travelling to Board Meetings and Reunions, as a passenger in my car. These trips mean so much to Norman that he sometimes postpones hospital appointments, in order to attend. When I ran field gun Norman, naturally, mixed with the staff so few of the Crew members got to meet him. However, come Public Run days Norman could be seen sitting next to the Commodore of DRAKE bellowing Oggie! Oggie! Oggie! with such gusto that I’m sure the Commodore wished that he, or Norman, was somewhere else. Norman has now become a good friend, and while it is difficult to envisage Norman as a top British athlete and field gunner, when you see him on unsteady legs, his active mind still delights in telling yarns about his field gun days and his time as Devonport Field Gun’s most generous and devoted sponsor. We have been lucky to have his support from Future Fit’s infancy and the launch of the website. He’s left a lasting legacy on the children of Plymouth.
On Sunday 12th September, our good friend and loyal supporter, Norman, was interred at St Nicholas Church in HMS Drake underneath the window that he purchased for the church.
Cdr Charles Crichton, OBE
He served on the Active List of the Royal Navy as a Seaman Officer for 37 years and then for 10 years, still in uniform, as the Naval Base Liaison Officer at the Devonport Naval Base. On “retirement” He managed Plymouth Armed Forces week 2008-2012.
He was a supporter of the Royal Navy Field Gun competition since first watching runs at the Royal Tournament when he was a young Officer. The advent of “Junior Field Gunners” captured his imagination when he witnessed thrilling performances during Plymouth Armed Forces Week. He readily accepted an invitation to become a Trustee when a new Future Fit-Junior Field Gun Charity was formed in early 2018.
He was the Chairman of the Board Trustees of the Future Fit-Junior Field Gun Charity. The Board manages the business of the Charity and the Chairman serves in a leadership position working in close concert with the Operations Manager.
It was clear to him that Future Fit is achieving the aim of “helping young people to develop their skills, capacities and capabilities thus enabling them to participate in society as independent, mature and responsible individuals”. He found it a joy to witness young people enjoying Junior Field Gunning and thereby developing team spirit, physical well being and a sense of fair play. This is embraced by strong support of parents and dedicated school staff all of which adds value to the lives of young people and their community.
The heritage and traditions of the Royal Navy Field Gun are now in the hands of our young Junior Field Gunners guided by the Future Fit Charity. It has inclusive and wide appeal to young people especially those in communities which include Service children. He strongly supported the growth of Junior Field Gunning and the continuing building of a strong and supportive Charity to take this most worthy enterprise into the future.