Regiment soldier on duty at London Olympics
A Regiment soldier helped with security at the Olympic Games in London, shoulder to shoulder with his UK counterparts.
Major Chris Wheddon, 43, was training with the British Army when he ended up in the world spotlight at the Hyde Park games venue.
He got to meet Bermudian competitors and mingle with officials and athletes from all over the world.
Maj. Wheddon said yesterday, So far, the highlight of this particular task has been meeting up with Tyler Butterfield and meeting other visiting Bermudians on site. There certainly was a sizeable contingent supporting both Tyler and Flora Duffy at the triathlon events. However, the opportunity of being part of the whole Olympic support staff has been extremely interesting.
The proud soldier posted pictures on Facebook of him posing with the athletes and of the challenge coin presented to him in recognition of his service at the games.
Thousands of troops had to be drafted in by the Olympic organisers after private security firm G4S admitted to a shortage of guards, a short time before the games began. Explaining how a Bermudian ended up among them, Regiment spokesman Captain Ben Beasley said: Major Chris Wheddon is on a four-month commanders training attachment with the British Army. He is currently with the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Battlegroup, consisting of the Royal Welsh and their attached Royal Artillery Battery, who are stationed at Hyde Park, The Mall and Horse Guards Parade.
There are currently 18,200 British Army, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy Service personnel in London — almost twice the amount of troops serving in Afghanistan. Specifically, they are providing protection and security at the various vehicle and pedestrian search areas leading into the venues.
Maj. Wheddon has been receiving practical command training as part of his job at the Olympics, focusing on the manning of the Events Control Room [ECR] at Hyde Park, which is a hub for the event organisers and emergency services.
Its been amazing to see how over 1,000 volunteers are managed at the site on event days, for what is essentially a small village, he said.
The site has its own power supplies, catering services on top of the normal viewing stands, media and athletes facilities. So far there have been no major problems and most small ones have been quickly solved by the 50 personnel in the ECR.
Capt Beasley said Maj. Wheddons experience at the Olympics is sure to prove useful when he returns to the Island.
As the Bermuda Regiment and Bermuda Police Service — along with other emergency organisations — move closer together on operational matters, the training he has been receiving is directly applicable back in Bermuda, he noted.
Next year, Bermuda will play host to the Island Games and with almost 2,000 participants and managers, it will be on a comparable scale ratio to the Olympics in London.
Prior to his training at the Olympics, Maj. Wheddon passed the Advanced Command and Staff Course at the Joint Command and Staff College in Shrivenham, Wiltshire, England. He has also visited the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, Surrey, England, and the infantry training centre in Brecon, Wales, where the Bermuda Regiment sends its officers and Junior Non Commissioned Officers for command training.
Capt Beasley said: As the Bermuda Regiment continues to develop its training and procedures it is extremely valuable to have one of its officers observe best practice in operation. He is due to move out of London shortly to join the Royal Welsh on exercises on Salisbury Plain.
Useful website www.bermudaregiment.bm.