Tuesday 17 April 2018

Caving for Andrew

We lost our son Andrew James Millward on 27thApril 2017 aged 33 when he took his own life. He had suffered bouts of depression brought on we think from his time serving with the Warwickshire Fusiliers in Iraq in 2007.  He was a serving Police Officer with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary working at Harwell in Oxfordshire commuting there daily from his home in Birmingham.
His colleagues from Harwell and in particular those from his unit have been of tremendous help and support over the last year to both his wife and two daughters and ourselves. His sister also ran the Birmingham Marathon in his place and memory last year.
l wanted to do something special to say ‘thank You’ to his close friends on his unit, rather like cavers they have to rely on each other in difficult moments. As a proud member of Dudley Caving Club, yes us lot, what better way than to organise an ‘Adventure Fund Day’ caving in south Wales.
Our guide for the day 6thMay would be non-other than ‘Caver Keith Edwards’ himself, ably assisted by Jessica Burkey and Kayleigh Wood.
We met in Abergavenny at our usual breakfast haunt of Luigi’s before moving on to South Wales Caving Club to allocate caving gear, change and make our way up the hill to OFD2. The five from Harwell had become four as one could not face his gremlins of going underground, but to be fair he did travel with his colleagues in order to support them and saw them off from nearly the entrance.
There was much nervous laughter and banter from our visitors as we made our way in and to their surprise it was, as we know, much larger in that entrance area than they had imagined. We pointed out land marks on the way such as Gnome Passage and the Wedding Cake and the Corkscrew certainly racked up the excitement. We made our way down to Salubrious and crossed the steamway and headed for the Columns where Clark Friend was able to give our visitors an interesting talk on how this part of the system had evolved.
Time was pressing now so we took the quickest route back which involved an interesting slide down a rift, exiting to the left part way aided by a safety line to avoid the continuing drop. We emerged to brilliant sunshine, amid exhilaration and relief to pose for pictures before making our way back to SWCC where my wife and other family members had prepared a BBQ.
Viewing the survey on wall in the long common room our visitors were amazed at the size of the OFD system and thrilled to plot their route in and out.
Following our meal and a short speech the final cherry on the cake was the presentation as a memento of the day of ‘UK Caving .com’ mugs to our visitors kindly and generously supplied by Jane Allen. All in all a great day out full of happy memories and possibly a couple of new members for D.C.C.
My sincere thanks to everyone who helped out that day. 
Ian Millward, Dudley Caving Club.


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