The Wessex Neurological
Centre Trust

Charitable Support for the Wessex Neurological Centre

Enhancing the range and quality of patient care and sponsoring pioneering research


HMS Iron Duke's Senior Rates Show Hearts of Gold

HMS Iron Duke's Senior Rates Show Hearts of Gold

HMS Iron Duke’s Senior Rates Show Hearts of Gold

During their recent six month deployment, members of the WO and CPO Mess aboard HMS Iron Duke have been raising funds for Smile4Wessex, and having returned to Portsmouth just prior to Christmas, representatives of the Mess visited the new Children’s Neurosciences Centre to hand over a cheque for a considerable sum.

CPO ‘Cat’ Stevens takes up the story of how these men and women of ‘Iron’ proved to have hearts of gold.

“I was first introduced to the Smile4Wessex charity by CPO Norman Brindley after joining HMS Iron Duke’s WO and CPO Mess in January 2013. As when joining any senior rates mess you are introduced to the Committee members. Norm, being one of them, explained to me how his son, Cameron, who suffers from severe epilepsy, has been treated at the Wessex Neurological Centre’s Children’s Neurosurgery ward for many years, and how support from Smile4Wessex was contributing to the development of a new, modern, child-friendly ward - the Smile4Wessex Children’s Neurosciences Centre.

“After explaining how this state-of-the-art facility, and its dedicated team of staff, care for children from across central Southern England and the Channel Islands, monitoring, investigating and, most importantly, treating children for a wide range of acute brain injuries and neurological conditions, we decided to adopt Smile4Wessex as our Mess Charity during our next deployment.

“To inject a bit of fun, maintain standards within the Mess and at the same time raise money for our designated Charity, a list of Rules and ‘Extra’ Rules were devised and published for each member to adhere too whilst living within the mess, with contraventions attracting a fine. The rules listed below are not exhaustive, but suffice to say it would be wrong to detail the others here!”


1.    Seat Cushion left up.
2.    Drink receptacle left loafing, including on the sink draining board.
3.    Empty Goffa tins or Nutty wrappers not ditched.
4.    Beer Spillage.
5.    Tea/Coffee Spillage and not cleaned up.
6.    Swearing in front of Female guests.
7.    Guest left unattended.
8.    Sleeping in the Mess.
9.    Failing to attend Mess Meetings (unless apology tendered in advance to Pres).
10.    Failing to carry out Mess Chef’s when detailed.
11.    Footwear on Mess furnishings.
12.    Out of the Rig of the Day.
13.    Head gear worn in the Mess (Drinking Hats allowed with prior approval).
14.    Pointing little finger up whilst drinking any beverages.

The Pres/VP will decide on any disputes. Each fine will equate to 50p to the Mess Charity. A fine can be paid at any time direct into the Collection tin. The payment must be witnessed by any member of the Mess and initialled by both payee and witness.

“Not being a heartless committee, the person being fined always had the chance to question the charge. However it was decided by the committee that an administrator’s fee of £5 would be added. Due to this not many people questioned their fine - which was always upheld by the committee anyway.  

“The mess members were amazing and took it in the spirit it was meant, with Norm in the driving seat instilling the importance of the monies raised. Our mess also hosted numerous quiz nights with a cash pot provided to the winning team. As with the spirit of the Mess members these winnings were always added for the charity. We also ran a whole ship horse racing night where bets were placed by the whole ships company on wooden horses that, by throwing dice, would move up a track drawn on the flight deck and where individuals could win money. The profits from this event were also placed into the Smile4Wessex Charity.

“Sailors being sailors, alcohol is often a factor of our fun, and it was Norm who first brought waxing strips into the Mess. Just leaving them at the bar, he understood sailor humour it wasn’t long after the ale started flowing that people were volunteering to be waxed for charity.  A strip on the arm for 50p, a strip on the leg for £1, and the more alcohol that was drunk the braver we became. A strip on the chest attracted £5, and £40 was pledged for….. well I’ll leave to the imagination of the reader as to where the waxing strips went next.

“Upon our return from deployment, Norm arranged for him, CPO ‘Buster’ Brown and I to visit the Smile4Wessex Children’s Neurosciences Centre, and to see for ourselves where and how the money we raised will be used. Until this visit I don’t think Buster and I really appreciated the amazing work this fantastic unit does for the children it cares for, or just how much of a positive impact the funds raised by Smile4Wessex have. It is an overwhelming feeling when you see first-hand the trauma some of these children go through, however I have never felt more delighted now I know where our charity monies are going to, and will proudly report to the rest of the Mess that it was worth every 50p fined.

“As the Mess Vice President I feel proud and humbled that, with Norm as the driving force, we were able to raise in only six months through fun, laughter and a bit of tomfoolery, the sum of £3,600 for this extremely worthwhile cause, Smile4Wessex.”

Our grateful thanks to all in the WO & CPO Mess, HMS Iron Duke, for their generous support.

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