Plans for the 20th anniversary pilgrimage to the Falkland Islands next year by two hundred British veterans who fought in the 1982 Conflict are being taken a stage further with a visit to the Islands by two leaders of the South Atlantic Medal Association, SAMA ?82 .
SAMA secretary, Denzil Connick, and treasurer, Tony Davies, left the United Kingdom for the Falkland Islands (on November 27th) for talks with the Falkland Islands Liaison Committee headed by former Councillor Lewis Clifton, and other Islanders who will be hosting the visit, between November 6th and 13th. SAMA says that most importantly, for the majority of its members, "we desire most strongly to re-establish and strengthen links with the people of the Falkland Islands". That is a mutual feeling as the Islanders have consistently shown their appreciation and gratitude to the Armed forces for their liberation and will be welcoming and enthusiastic hosts. SAMA are still raising funds to finance the visit which at least 180 veterans have expressed a wish to join. They are ready to contribute what they can themselves to the fare. Most will travel from the United Kingdom but others who have settled in the United States and Australia plan to join them. Fund-raising schemes have included parachute jumps by the veterans and their supporters.
Visit will be by LanChile SAMA have abandoned their intention to hire a jumbo jet from British Airways as the cost, about £340,000 (more than 500,000 dollars), was beyond them. Now they are to be flown to the Islands by LanChile, by way of Santiago, and Punta Arenas, from where the Chilean airline already runs a regular service to the Falkland Islands. The pilgrimage will be led by SAMA chairman, Doctor Rick Jolly, who told Mercopress: "We are confident we can now go ahead, though all the money is not yet in the bank. We hope we will get maximum support from the welfare organisations". Former Royal Naval Commander Rick Jolly was the surgeon whose medical teams in 1982 tended the wounded and saved so many lives, both British and Argentine, at the field hospital in Ajax Bay. The pilgrimage is planned for November, later in the year than the conflict, to take advantage of better summer weather and also to coincide with Armistice Day, always held in November to remember and pay tribute to the millions of Commonwealth dead in two world wars and other conflicts. The BBC are planning to broadcast the event with a live television link-up. SAMA