British soldier captivated by Georgia
27 September, 2017
British soldier captivated by Georgia
The man who I’m about to present to you is a British war veteran. He arrived in Georgia for the first time a month ago and visited the Dashbashi Canyon, one of the most beautiful places in Georgia. He went
there right from the airport, after his plane landed in Tbilisi.

I decided to encourage him and tried to explain that it would be the greatest adventure in his life. There are very few cases when a visitor is directly going from the airport to the heart of nature. He asked me who I was. I said I was a journalist.

- I am a military man, - he said then, - I served for 20 years and now I’m traveling to different countries and trying to help the children of war.
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- Wow, it’s interesting, - I said and told him that I work at a large media holding, where every sphere has its own web-site and there are press, radio, television, etc.

I told him we have military magazine as well. It’s called Arsenal, where the stories of war are published, as well as articles about military weapons and so on.

So, that was how we began to get to know each other.

British war veteran, Alan Rutter

Alan Rutter lives in London's Royal Hospital Chelsea, but he spends more time on the road, traveling all over the world and helping children who were left orphaned, as well as veterans. He’s been busy helping Syrian children lately.
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"The Royal Hospital Chelsea, where the war veterans of the British Army live, was built by the order of Charles II, at the end of the 17th century. It is located in the Chelsea District and has not been operating as a hospital for almost a century. It was during the Second World War that it was made a military hospital. Now veterans and disabled people live there, the ones who prefer to spend the rest of their lives together with the colleagues. Some permanently live there, others only come at times, but still it is their home ...

Once or twice a week our family members visit us. You can find the militaries of any rank there, from privates to Field-Marshals. Most of them are still considered to be military people and the state pays them a retirement benefit. It’s approximately 800 euros, but it depends on the rank. These people are often called the Chelsea Retirees. There are many elderly people there too and they are very good partners in conversation, because they have a lot to tell you.

The number of permanent residents in the hospital is up to 300. Among them are women who make our life more beautiful and add a little intrigue. It is good to have a woman in the hospital, as well as in the street. I would say - even in the war ... Our hospital has a very beautiful yard, "Flower Show", which was built in the early 20th century. Also, we have a very beautiful and original interior, which is a tourist attraction.

There is also a National Military Museum in the hospital, which has been joined to the mountainous complex since 1960, and it is very similar to the French Army Museum",
- British soldier reports.

Allan works as a volunteer with people who have limited skills. He teaches them poetry. Also, he goes to jail to visit forlorn prisoners. He also helps soldiers to overcome posttraumatic stress in the rehabilitation centers.

"Charity activities makes you want to live on. The Bible also says: It is better to give away than to receive".
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Alan has been attracted by making clay vessels. He creates his own designs for vases, jugs, then sells them and spends money on charity.

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“One time, I was a professional soldier, a lieutenant, but I knew that despite the protection we could have died in the war of Northern Ireland one day ... But it was my choice and I served in the British Army for 20 years. As for the children, it was not their choice being victims of brutal decisions, and then they have to continue their lives with that. A good example is the children from Syria whom we have taken out from the most dangerous zones. I will never forget the fear and distrust of their eyes ... The child who saw all the brutality of the war, who saw how his parents, brothers and sister were killed, is difficult to talk about the goodness of the world. He won’t understand it ... But we still try to get rid of the war syndrome and create a normal future.

The guest happily tells us how he learned about Georgia:

“Mother Anastasia and Leliko Jijiashvili, who came to London to see the Royal Chelsea Hospital as tourists, wanted to see Margaret Thatcher's grave. As I learned Mother Anastasia liked Margaret Thatcher very much and she believed that it was her who built England. Then I accidentally met them and they offered me a trip to Georgia. At first I thought they were joking because it was a very strange proposal ... I agreed. I invited them to dinner and that was how my friendship with Georgia started. They have opened the doors of the country that I consider to be my second home. Before that, I knew very little about this country, I only knew that it was invaded by Russia.”

After listening to this story, I told him that, as a result of the war, part of the Georgian territory is already occupied by Russia. Then I told him about our soldiers and war and IDPs. I promised him when he returns to Georgia, I would definitely take him to Tserovani.

Our last meeting took place on the tenth day of his visit. I am in the "Biblus Gallery". At the entrance there was an opportunity to taste Georgian wine. He chose a white wine. Then we went to the reading hall and now he personally got acquainted with the magazine "Arsenal". So we gave it to him as a present, and also added an English translation of "Georgia: 100 Place of Excellence". From the reading hall we went straight to the Mtatsminda, from where the history of the capital of our country can be seen on the palm of the hand. I told him about Georgian public figures.

"You are very nice people, with your past and present. In addition to Khachapuri and Khinkali, there are many interesting stories. Georgia looks like the rainbow. It's colored and full of life", the guest said and I saw in his eyes that he was honest.

On the way back he didn’t say a word. When we said goodbye to each other, he said: "I think that friendship is the most valuable thing in the world, because it has no boundaries. See you in London" ...

Author: Nana Chkhaidze

Related stories:

Dashbashi Canyon in Georgia – Paradise on earth

Winter wonderland – Georgia’s frozen Dashbashi Canyon

10 places in Georgia that turned out to be a new discovery for tourists
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