Messages of thanks from Al’s family
Al’s wife, Claire
As Al’s wife, I would like to say that the response from the public has been amazing. I’m blown away by it and I say that on behalf of Al and the whole family. It’s been unstinting and I am only now beginning to realise how much strength it’s given me. It feels like the whole country is behind us. People are appalled by what has happened, or they disagree with the verdict or think the sentence is too long. All this is said by people I have never met but who I would love to meet. It is utterly overwhelming and we are all so grateful. The Royal Marines have been hugely supportive, right by our side all the way through. In fact, more than I expected. It’s marvellous they stand by their own.
Al’s mum, Frances
As Alexanders mother I am finding it very difficult to understand this cruel thing that has happened to him. I am here to protect and support him but I am struggling to do this at the moment. He has been taken away from his family and considered by others a bad man. My son is honest through to the core and I know what he told me about the incident to be the truth. I am just glad that his father is not alive to see how his son has been let down by the system. It would have broken his heart. Thanks again from a proud mother.
Al’s sister, Melody
I have always counted myself lucky that Alex is not just my brother but my friend as he is one of the noblest people I know. He has been a Royal Marine for nearly half my life. The men that he served with have just as much right to call him brother as I do. Because of this I have been so grateful for the messages and entertaining videos the Royal Marines have posted to show their support. The Royal Marine family has been a wonderful help during this time, reassuring us that Big Al will not be forgotten.
Sadly Alex has seen the worst of people as he served, both during his many tours of duty and now with the condemnation from lesser men that should have been there to understand the hell he was fighting in. But at the same time the tremendous love and support our family has received has been truly amazing and we have all tried our hardest to make sure Alex knows that people are backing him.
I want to say thank you to all those that have shown support to Alex and Claire. As a family we will stay strong for him and will be resting our hopes on a speedy appeal. My main hope is for Alex’s freedom, but I also hope that Alex’s case has shed light on the true nature of the wars our troops have endured over the past decade and that they will all be shown more respect, compassion and understanding for the horror they have seen on our behalf.
As a family we are used to having Alex away fighting for the freedom of strangers, but now we must all fight for him. Thank you all again, your kind words have given me and my family great strength during this time.
Al’s sister, Lorraine
It makes me sad to the core. But then there are people like you who are reading this and speaking out on our behalf and it gives me hope.
As someone who doesn’t have a Facebook account, you can’t imagine how much time I have spent on it over the last couple of months. The day after my brothers conviction I stumbled on one of the new Facebook sites supporting my brother. I watched as the ‘likes’ just kept going up, it was overwhelming.
So thank you to everyone for doing their bit. Please keep up the momentum, as when I am struggling to comprehend what has happened to my brother there always seems to be someone out there fighting his cause.
I got to speak to my brother on Boxing Day for 8 precious minutes. He is bored, peeved and spending lots of time on this own, which gives him plenty of time to worry about the 10 years that he currently has to serve behind bars. It is hard to know what to say. It is all so wrong.
Friends keep asking me what they can do and it is simple really; show your support for my brother by filling in the e-petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/56810 or writing to your local MP to voice your anger at the decision. Then share it with your friends and get them to do the same.
I would like to thank the Royal Marines Association for their continued support for my family. I know that my mum really appreciates having them to speak to. Thank you all for your continued support of Alex and Claire it really does help.
Al’s brother-in-law, Anthony
When you know someone who’s work life is completely alien to you it’s human nature to want to know more about their experiences, to try and get a sense of what it’s like, not only out of natural curiosity but also out of concern for their well-being. No matter how hard we try it is almost impossible to truly appreciate what Marines put themselves through or the demands they are capable of fulfilling in their roles during conflict. What we see as an horrific, dangerous, demanding and highly stressful role, to them is considered nothing more than the day job and typically passed off with casual humour. It’s only through journalists eyes, people like Chris Terrill, we even get a slight sense of what it’s like and understandably many people would probably be happier not knowing the ordeals members of our friends and family go through.
Much has been written about the psychological effects of conflict and with media coverage it’s hard not to be aware of how difficult it must be, not only to be in those situations but also to have to return and adjust to normal life, having to live with those experiences, images and memories. But that is exactly what these men do and they do it together and support each other in order that they can make the switch from the role of soldier to that of husband, father, son, brother.
Public support for our armed forces in general has never seemingly been greater. The sense of responsibility and respect shown by communities like Wootten Basset and the growth of charities such as Help for Heroes has highlighted appreciation of the sacrifices being made. When you know of, or have encountered someone who has put themselves on the line in the name of their country it is truly heartening to see the attitude and support demonstrated by the public. It is hard to describe how valuable that support can be and how incredibly thankful we are for the overwhelming support received thus far.
For those who know service personal well it’s hard to convey the sense of frustration and distress that comes from the realisation that public perception is only as good as the article they’ve read, the news report they’ve seen, that it is tainted by other people’s own agendas, by comments dished out from those keen to condemn both conduct and personality, when in reality they could not be further from the truth. There is a huge sense of frustration in being able to do little to convey the other side of the story, to demonstrate the person that Al really is and that it is a far cry from how some quarters have made him out. For those who know him, the bear of a man is a gentle giant, a man who takes pride in everything he does, who is as happy in the kitchen as he is enjoying the countryside, playing golf or cycling. A gentleman who wouldn’t think twice about helping out a friend, a neighbour or his family. A man who gladly gives up a few hours each weekend with his wife to help an elderly lady by walking the dog she is no longer able to. This is who he is and no verdict or political agenda will change this.
During this incredibly stressful process I have been very fortunate to have read some of the many messages of support sent to Al by colleagues, friends and complete strangers. This has been a humbling experience during which I learned the qualities that make Al the man he is at home with his family also make him the man he is when in the field with his troop. These letters provided confirmation of his character and leadership and were a far cry from much of the damming portrayal at the end of the trial. It’s hard to describe how humbling it is to read a letter from another Marine thanking Al for his patience and dedication to his troop, for taking them under his wing on embarking on this clearly horrific tour. For doing his utmost to ensure the safe return of his colleagues and friends on a daily basis, for putting himself on the line. Another letter, this time from a complete stranger, a retired military man who had clearly been touched by the circumstances enough to draw on his own personal experience and not only write in support but to also offer advice on dealing with the current circumstances and whatever future lies ahead. The poignancy of this letter was reflected by the selfless nature of the author who had taken time from dealing with his own personal crisis (terminal cancer) to extend the hand of friendship in the hour of need. I know that when I get the chance to speak to Al about all this he will casually dismiss it in his usual unassuming, selfless manner, a manner which is the very definition of the man we know.