Today I was delighted and honoured to attend a service in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. Representing the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust as a travel fellow, along with Joanne Skapinker and Director General Jamie Balfour, I had a chance to reflect on what it means to be a fellow of the trust.


1 - Joanne Skapinker, Jamie Balfour and Deepesh Patel at the service held at the Houses of Parliament

Fellows of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust ‘travel to make a difference’; part of Sir Winston Churchill’s living legacy. Hearing stories and tales from many people today made me realise that my travels in the deepest Peruvian Amazon were similar to Churchill’s; he encapsulated the victorian sense of adventure and daring, and was always at the forefront of any action. Even 3 years on from my fellowship, the most pertinent of learning curves were: the more I pushed the boundaries, the more I learned about myself.


2 - Sounding of the division bell to mark two minutes of silent reflection followed by laying of wreaths by: Mr Speaker and the Lord Speaker on behalf of Parliament, The Rt Hon David Cameron, the Rt Hon Nick Clegg and the Rt Hon Edward Miliband on behalf of their parties, Nathania Ewruje on behalf of the Nation and the Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP on behalf of the Churchill family

The ceremony was led by Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who gave reflections on Churchill: ‘Churchill’s name and reputation have become synonymous with the allied victory and with the quest for stability, reconstruction and a confident engagement with our allies’. The Speaker of the House of Commons, The Rt Hon John Bercow spoke of Churchill as a ‘Commons man’ – serving as an MP for over 63 years, rejecting many offers to stand in the House of Lords, and this was also reflected in a print at the ‘Churchill and Parliament’ exhibition – ‘I was a child of the House of Commons’.


3 - The Havengore which travelled past the Tower of London to Westminster, as in 1965 to mark the 50th anniversary of his funeral

Later that morning, I was invited to HMS Belfast to see the Havengore, the boat that carried Sir Winston Churchill’s coffin along the Thames in 1965, recreate its journey along the Thames, 50 years after his death. Churchill will be remembered as a great leader and Briton, and as a Churchill fellow and founder of an educational enterprise, I will remember him for his adventurous streak and willingness to learn from different cultures and bring that back to enrich the nation.