When the editor of the world’s oldest weekly women’s magazine took a leap of faith from the roof of London’s St Pancras International train station he was inspired by his dad, a former Commando from Craven.
Matt Warren, who edits The Lady, took on the nerve-shredding challenge last month in aid of the Commando Spirit Appeal for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund (RMCTF), a charity that supports injured and serving Royal Marines and their families.
Matt’s father, Richard “Bunny” Warren, was a Bradford-born Royal Marine, who travelled the world with the green berets, before retiring to Skipton.
Matt recalled: “One of my earliest memories is of a green beret. In the spare room of my childhood home was a wardrobe. And in that wardrobe, next to the shirts and jackets and on a shelf beside a gas mask – it was still the Cold War, after all – was one of the world’s most coveted military headdresses.
“I can still remember holding it in my hands as a young boy, the smell of it (the faintest scent of Brut 33 splash-on lotion), the feel of it, and how, as a six-year-old, it sank over my ears when I put in on and ran howling through the garden, terrifying the family tortoiseshell cat, Fluffy.
“I remember studying the globe and laurel cap badge, with the battle honour Gibraltar above, and the motto Per Mare Per Terram (‘By Sea By Land’) below. But most of all, I remember being proud of it, proud because it belonged to my hero, my father. For my father – and his green beret – had been around the world, and had represented the very best of Britain wherever he went. He had been shot at on the troubled streets of Northern Ireland, and comforted the families of fallen comrades during the Falklands War. He had yomped through the jungles of Asia and shivered in the icy wastes of the High Arctic.
“During one ill-advised, and rather less glorious, camping trip to the continent, he had even been arrested (mistakenly, I should add) for desertion – he remembers watching Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon through the bars of a Belgian jail cell.
“I didn’t follow my father into the Royal Marines. Instead, I am now the editor of Britain’s oldest women’s weekly magazine, The Lady. It is an entirely different (and considerably more pampered) world, but thanks to my father and his inspiring fellow soldiers, the Royal Marines will always have a treasured place in my heart. I grew up around them in Plymouth, Poole and Portsmouth, and appreciate the truly remarkable things that they do.”
Inspired by the work of his father, Matt took on the challenge of abseiling from the top of St Pancras.
“The long drop from the summit of this magnificent London landmark is doubtless a cakewalk for most Royal Marines,” he said. “Less so for me, a ‘soft’ office worker who spends most of his time safely behind a Covent Garden desk.
“But the 7,113 personnel of the Royal Marines need our support more than ever.”
Matt added: “My father left the Marines in 1995 and now lives in happy retirement in Skipton with his partner, Sue – a ‘rare diamond’ who served in the Women’s Royal Navy Service for 23 years. And he’s as modest as ever. Men down the pub still ask if he knows how to kill people with his bare hands; he replies that, these days, he’s only interested in early nights with a cup of Horlicks and a pair winceyette pyjamas.
“But his colleagues fight on bravely and professionally in some of the most gruelling conditions imaginable. The least I can do for them, for my father, is take the leap from a train station roof.”
To support Matt, visit justgiving.com/Matt-Warren0 or send a cheque, payable to the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund to Matt Warren, The Lady, 39-40 Bedford St, London WC2E 9ER For more on the Commando Spirit Appeal, visit commandospirit.com