The Poem to Remember competition was launched to find a new poem to mark the opening of the DNRC, in what is the centenary of the end of the First World War. More than 5,000 entries were received and thousands voted in the public poll to decide the winner.

We are delighted that One for the Team by Debbie Lawson has won. Debbie, 63, is a nurse in the Accident and Emergency department at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. For the last few years she has also been helping former servicemen and woman suffering from PTSD by volunteering as a counsellor.

It is an area where she feels a strong responsibility to help due to her own military links. Her husband served 42 years in the RAF and for much of their married life she lived on or near military bases. Her daughter’s fiancée has undertaken multiple tours in Afghanistan as he serves in the Special Forces of the Australian military, and she has a grandfather who served in both World Wars and an uncle who died in the Battle of Britain.

One for the Team is based on a true story. It came from one of the PTSD sufferers for whom Debbie has provided counselling. This former soldier, who she has asked not be named, was a member of a tank crew in Afghanistan when they were attacked and some of his colleagues killed. In the aftermath of the incident, he had to help carry the bodies of his dead friends to base. Now back in the UK and having left the army, he has struggled to move on and suffers the legacy of regularly believing he sees his dead friends.

Debbie says: “When this boy came home they held the ceremonies with the band and the handing over of the flag. But those who suffer PTSD cannot move on. I have shared the poem with him and he is very moved by it as he believes it will help always evoke the memories of his comrades. Hopefully it will help highlight to the public the awfulness that these people are left with.”

The winning poem reads:

 

One for the Team

By Debbie Lawson

I keep seeing you mate, intact and laughing,

holding up your baby to make us smile.

I keep hearing you mate, joking, urging, 'come on lads keep together, don't step on the cracks it brings bad luck’.

‘Keep it tight boys, we'll be home by the footy season’.

We carried you home, silent and broken, you really took one for the team that day.

Your dad stood with pride head high, don't cry, don't cry.

Lucy took the flag, a token for the broken. The baby will have it one day.

They'll go to the wall to see your name, a game, 'let's find daddy's name'

but I keep seeing you mate, my shrink says you're not there, that makes us laugh doesn't it?

What do they know.

 

The poem will now be displayed at the DNRC for those being treated and working there to read for generations to come. The organisers of the Poem to Remember would like to thank everyone who entered and contributed to the competition.