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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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News
blog-armistice-464

The Power of the Poppy – Armistice Day 2019

Stephanie Hamilton, People and Culture Director, ISS UK & Ireland reflects on her conversation with Matthew Paget, ISS Key Account Manager and former Grenadier Guard, where he describes what the poppy and the two-minute silence mean to him.
As I write this, I am travelling to our London office, and watching fellow travellers wear their poppies and seeing the volunteers sell poppies as I arrive at Waterloo station and then again into Canary Wharf tube station. When I look down at my own poppy I reflect on a conversation I have had with Matthew Paget. who is a Key Account Manager of one of our contracts and prior to this served with the Grenadier Guards.

Matthew Paget - Great Coat

What Matthew and I share is the significance of the poppy to us both and the importance of remembrance, dedicated to the honour of our soldiers. 

As happens every Armistice Day, ISS people across the UK and Ireland will unite with the nation to observe the two-minute silence to remember the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces in conflicts past and present. This 2019 Armistice Day,  has further significance as it is 100 years since the first two-minute silence was observed on Armistice Day.

Matthew's story:

Matthew shares stories with me from his military life, all of which feel so far away from my existence in the UK and my own personal life story. Matthew grew up knowing that he wanted to join the army and serve his Country, he describes himself as a young boy feeling really patriotic and loving the monarchy, at school aged only 14 or 15 his work experience placement was taken as an army placement where he really saw what it was like to be a soldier and  at that point he knew a military life was for him

Matthew always wanted to join the Grenadier Guards due to both the prestige of being part of the regiment, who conduct so many ceremonial duties, such as the State opening of Parliament, state funerals and guarding Buckingham Palace which duties co-exist alongside the fact that they are considered the oldest and most iconic regiment in the British Army – Matthew wanted to be in the army, in the best regiment and so that is what he did. We are proud to have a Grenadier Guard amongst us at ISS.

I felt compelled to share Matthew’s story on Armistice Day as I feel it embodies the JointForces@ISS programme and our ethos.

For those who are not aware, JointForces@ISS is in its simplest form a managed network of ISS colleagues and mentors across our UK business who offer help and support to our transitioning military personnel. This happens through engagement days, opportunity workshops and guidance;  we come together to ensure we are a joint force for good.

I really admire that just about everyone I have met on our JointForces@ISS – our programme to help former service personnel transition to working life- has a real focus on serving our Country and being part of something that really makes a difference.

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Matthew explained that when he was active on a ‘hearts and minds tour’ in Afghanistan he was mentoring the Afghan army and the police, supporting them in re-building the community and pushing back the Taliban. He talked with pride and passion of his work in enabling the community to rebuild their daily lives in some way, of children going to school and in one instance, a really moving story of having a conversation with an Afghanistan policeman, father and husband – Mohammed, who he was mentoring. Matthew was on ‘guardian angel’ duty, keeping watch as the rest of the platoon slept. Mohammed sat up with him and through broken English and some sign language they shared stories of their families and their dreams for their respective countries. Although Matthew didn’t realise this at the time, this would be the spirit of what we have created in JointForces@ISS, when two sides come together for the good of something greater than they can create alone. 

Matthew also shared stories of being on overwatch, overlooking the ‘green zone’ an area of Afghanistan natural beauty where the desert met the forest and the green landscape. It is here Matthew was sitting looking for the Taliban when he saw a father leave his home – which was a cave on the side of the mountain.  The father pointed to the sky, trees, water, birds and explained the landscape to his very young son. This both reminded Matthew of the humility of the Afghan people but also of his own family, his daughter Chelsie (spelt deliberately different than the football team 😊) and his own family life. We must remember than when all our differences are removed, as human beings we are made of the same feelings and thoughts and those are to care for our family and loved ones. Similarly, JointForces@ISS is about coming together to create a community.

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I talked to Matthew about family and war, I can’t imagine working and serving in a war zone and of course, these stories are really graphic, Matthew finds himself working for ISS and out of the Grenadier Guards due to an injury in war, that left him medically discharged. Being Matthew, his focus is not really on his injury and he talks movingly about the people he served with and their injuries sustained during conflict, particularly Jason Gould who lost his legs in an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) incident. Matthew was there at the time of the incident and saw Jason again in the UK with his family,  after a period of treatment, where Jason thanked Matthew and some others ‘for saving his life’. Matthew helped save someone’s life, he mentions this so casually in a conversation to me. Wow, this is someone very special.

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I talked to Matthew about how he got involved with ISS and he came into the organisation via the MOD on a work placement process, much like the work experience he had aged 14 or 15. His dream job cruelly taken away from him, he was ready to start a new chapter and he had chosen ISS to start it with. He was supported in his role by Allan Vaughan our previous Director of Defence, who has since retired but who started our JointForces@ISS which was originally called the Veterans programme. I made a personal commitment to Allan that the veterans programme would continue and be his legacy.  So, on the second birthday of JointForces@ISS Iwish to toast Allan for his vision and thoughtfulness in the programme creation all that time ago, for supporting people like Matthew into ISS and I would like to toast to the future of the programme; to people like Ray Cooksley who help to keep things moving forward and encouraging people from the services to join us and all of the mentors that continue to make JointForces@ISS a success.

Finally as we observe the two-minute silence this year and in future years, let’s pause and reflect that it’s not about which side of the argument you side with; think of it as an act of kindness, of us all coming together to pay our respects on this special day.
 
If you would like more information go to our JointForces@ISS web page.

Get in touch...

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To find out more about JointForces@ISS, our Veterans' programme

Please email Ray Cooksley