This year, on Sunday 16th December, the Bethlehem Peacelight was collected from a service in Aire-Sur-La-Lys, in the Pas de Calais region of France.
Six members of the South Foreland SAS and a member of the Deep Sea Scouts set off on the, delayed, 0625hr sailing of Spirit of France, where a table had been reserved for us in the Brasserie where we had breakfast.(Arrangements for our travel out and back on P&O had been ‘tweaked’ for us by Phil and Carolyn’s youngest daughter who works for the company.)On arrival in Calais we subjected ourselves to some retail therapy at the City of Europe shopping centre followed by a relaxing coffee before setting off on an hours drive to the church in Aire-Sur-La Lys.
On arrival back at Calais Port we were sent to the priority lane for boarding and were then embarked first and positioned so that we were first vehicles to dis embark.
We were directed to the Information desk where we were greeted by Senior OBS Paul Staveley who then escorted us to the Club Lounge for the return journey. While he and OBS Shaun Smith chatted to us we were given tea and coffee along with biscuits and made to feel really welcome.
Shortly after sailing the Captain, Dave Dawson, along with Chief Engineer Phil Pearce joined us all and spent some time chatting with us about the Light and it’s travels.After posing for photos which we are told will be used in P&Os magazine I presented Captain Dave with a 2018 Peace Light badge.He then presented us with some bags of Peace (Jelly) Babies – he had done his homework on the Peace Light web page -with a note which read “Wishing peace and happiness to everybody in the World.A little present from the crew of the Pride of Kent.Happy to assist your travels.”
We had ordered some food as usual and sat down to enjoy the rest of the trip back to Dover but found the surprises hadn’t finished as when we went to pay for our food we were told it was complimentary on P&O!
We arrived home, in the rain, and were soon saying farewell to Margaret Elllison as she set off to carry the light westward.Members from St. Paul’s Church, Dover, and John Marshall arrived Sunday evening to collect the Light and Monday morning Mike Jarman arrived to carry the Light to Chick Sands American Air Base for onward travel to the USA.
We all had an enjoyable time as usual collecting the Light from the French Scouts, meeting friends we only see once a year. This year the trip was topped up by the treatment and service we received from P&O crew members from the Captain down.