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24 Attend March Veterans Breakfast Club

Orkney Armed Forces’ and Veterans’ Breakfast Club – 25th March 2023

With the 25th March being the last Saturday of the month, the Orkney Armed Forces’ and Veterans’ Breakfast Club had their monthly gathering, this time opposite the cathedral at the St Magnus cafe, in Kirkwall. 24 serving and ex-serving military men and women, along with family members, came together to eat and enjoy each other’s company.

One regular attendee is Marjory MacLean, who’s originally from Forfar, but has lived in Orkney, this time, for about 2 years, but totalling closer to ten. Many readers might recognise Marjory because, as well as being an armed forces veteran, she is also the Church of Scotland Minister based in St Margaret’s Hope.

Former Royal Naval Reserve Chaplain, Marjory MacLean, with the organisation’s founder and coordinator, RAF veteran Simon Brodie in the St Magnus Cafe, Kirkwall, for the monthly gathering of the Orkney Armed Forces’ and Veterans’ Breakfast Club. Image credit Adrian Hughes

Marjory joined the Navy in 2004, at the tender age of 42, as the first female Chaplain in the Royal Naval Reserve, and whilst going through Junior Officer training at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, she found herself to be twice the age of many of her classmates:

“I was completely incapable of picking up the pine poles that they carry everywhere, but you do the best you can. Of course, where I had the advantage is, some of what they were doing involved writing and public speaking and the 20-year-old kids were terrified by all that. It’s second nature to [me], so you help each other out”.

Having already been ordained for 13 years, Marjory served as a Chaplain, on land and sea, for another 13 years, including a short spell at the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, Devon:

“Hilariously,  I reckon I may have been the least qualified person ever walk through through those gates; physically, at least”.

In 2010, at the age of 48, Marjory took a career break from her civilian ministry in the Church of Scotland and spent a year in naval uniform. During this time she spent six weeks on anti-piracy duties in the Indian Ocean, aboard HMS CHATHAM; put together a book of religious services, to be used at sea when there is no Minister or Priest aboard, and three months as Garrison Chaplain in Kabul, where about 5% of the British personnel stationed in Afghanistan, were based.

Part of the Chaplain’s duties there was to take weekly Communion to the British Embassy. This Marjory achieved by travelling on a Friday, “when the traffic was less mad”, with the garrison’s Commanding Officer, who would be going to a weekly staff meeting. She would then have to walk half a mile or so, outside the barbed wire, in full body armour, escorted by a couple of Gurkhas, from the HQ building to the Embassy.

“The interesting thing was; I’m 5’ 8”; and Gurkhas aren’t. So I’m walking along with these two, ready to throw themselves in front of a speeding bullet to protect this British Chaplain, and my helmet and head are sticking up above them. I couldn’t have been more of a target if they weren’t there in the first place”.

Marjory clearly survived her time in Afghanistan and in February 2011, she returned to the Church of Scotland and moved to a new parish, in Perthshire. She left the navy in 2017.

Veterans from all three services come together on the last Saturday of each month, to enjoy each other’s company and maintain the camaraderie and esprit de corps they shared whilst serving.

There’s no admin fees or paperwork; the only thing they pay for is their food and drinks. Breakfasts run from 0930 – 1100 (ish) and happen at various locations around Orkney.

If you are a veteran, or their immediate family, you’re welcome to join us. We also welcome current members of the armed forces, Regulars and Reserves, as well of those who serve or served any other country.

More details are available on the group’s Facebook page or you can call or email Simon, their coordinator, on: 07909 640884. orkneyveransbreakfastclub@outlook.com.

The next breakfast will be in, “The Neuk” at the Albert Hotel, Kirkwall, on 29th April 2023. Come along and say hello; we look forward to meeting you.

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