I am not sure I know where to begin to say thank you – Heroes was a quite a weekend. The marvellous men in their flying machines were matchless with their precision and dexterity and created the most extraordinary show.
From the modern pizazz and sheer raw power of the Red Arrows, to the fragile acrobatics of the de Havilland Tiger moths, the excitement of the spitfire and the majesty of of the enormous B 17 is was indeed an outstanding show.
The RAF Chinooks fly and practice over the Highclere Estate because our very varied topography provides a contrasting experience but I never realised quite how large they are until one landed just in front of the Castle. The Royal British Legion parachutists were spot-on and on Sunday trailed 2,500 poppies which dispersed in the wind, a beautiful occasion as 12th Hussar Pipe Major playing Amazing Grace.
With the news of upcoming Downton film, Hugh Bonneville and Lord Fellowes were the obvious attractions in the Speakers’ tent.
Even more in keeping, perhaps, with the purpose of the event the Indian High Commissioner gave an enormously insightful talk into the often overlooked role of the Indian army in the First World War, when they contributed 1.5million men of whom nearly 100, 000 did not make it home again. As a corp, they won more VC’s than any other unit.
Dr Javid Abdelmoneim of MSF gave a moving report on the role of and the sacrifices made by the doctors and nurses who make up MSF. It was enormously humbling. Kate Adie, Mona Juul and Terje Rod Larsen, Robert Harris and Shrabani Basu were all as ever enlightening, entertaining and fascinating.
The Dress for Downton competition was fun and judging invidious! Hugh Bonneville helped us on Saturday and Lesley Nichol (Mrs Patmore) on Sunday. Sepsis kindly helped us organise two games of football each day.
All the contributors to the event gave above and beyond what anyone could have expected of them and worked tremendously hard to give our guests and visitors the most amazing weekend of experiences. Thank you of course grateful to our friends and co-sponsors Viking Cruises! I am so grateful to all of them for everything they did to pull the weekend together. Don’t miss browsing the online auction at https://www.32auctions.com/heroes and decide what you might enjoy. I look forward to greeting some of you as my guests here at Highclere!
Perhaps the most moving part for me was the non-denominational service we held on the Sunday morning under the skies next to the sculpture we have had dedicated to the airmen who lost their lives over the Highclere Estate in WW2. Canadian Chaplain Tim Novis led the service and we sang hymns, listened to some very thoughtful addresses and prayers and remembered the futility of war. I and the families of those airmen found it hard to stay strong and movingly the USA charity TAPS was here to help those in such a position of grief now as well.
“The young dead soldiers do not speak…
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.”
Now of course we are into the clearing up, nobody has much energy, everybody’s voices are a little scratchy and the coffee machine is on overdrive. The marquees are coming down faster than they seemed to go up and there is a slight feeling of flatness as there always is after an enormous and successful event. Now we look forward to the arrival of the film crew the start of the shooting season and turn of the season towards autumn.