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PT Branch July 2020 Newsletter


Dear RMA PT Branch Colleagues,


I do hope that this finds you and your loved ones keeping well and happy in spirit, despite the coronavirus gloom! Here is a brief catchup of recent events:



RMA PT Branch member number 25 – is John Bickford!

Johnny (now 87 years old) was delighted to be the winner but in typical generous style has decided to present this to “The most improved PT2 Course Qualifier” of the new PT2 Course of 6 candidates that has just started training at CTCRM. A most generous thought John and thank you!


The lucky Qualifier will be able to nurse his bruises with a bottle of vintage Bruichladdick whisky, which is made from 100% Scottish barley, trickle distilled, then matured for its entire life in the  Bruichladdich distillery, which sits opposite the western shore of Loch Indaal on Islay, an island off the west coast of Scotland in premium American oak. That should do the trick!


John (now 87 years of age) still lives in Rotherham with his wife Vanda and despite having to use walking sticks, still manages to get around and keep his spirits high!


Thanks to the generous taxi service by our Hon Sec Terry Harrison, we were delighted to see John at the last RMA PT Branch Reunion


We will include a short article on John in the next PT Newsletter but in the meantime please see the photo of John when he was serving at Deal.


Although John is not into emails you can give him a tel. call to congratulate him on Tel: 01709 377388.




Thank all of you who were so kind as to respond to my messages regarding our veteran PTI’s birthdays! First we had Derek Jason who had a nice visit from Terry Harrison on his birthday and lots of calls from everywhere from his former PT Branch colleagues. He had a lovely day as a result and you may have seen the video that Terry made on that day. Derek can be contacted on tel: 01246 855280 or Mob: 07703 198763.


Derek is pictured at the last PT Reunion with former PT colleagues (L to R) Bill Turnbull, John Ellis, John Farlie, John Bickford and Keith Wilson.




Although locked away in a small flat in Gillingham, Kent, Nigel (known by most as Jan) celebrated his 80th birthday with his daughters on 30th July. Thanks to the many cards and tel calls from his PT Branch colleagues, including our Hon President, Gen Andy Keeling, Jan had a lovely day! He also had a surprise delivery of a special PT Branch cake which made his day! Although now wheelchair bound, please see the photo of Nigel (below) in his younger days as a PTI.


The photo shows Nigel (right), who was a brown belt, as part of the formidable RM Deal Judo team in the RN Championships.

In the team with him are (L to R): Graham Edwards, Ken Cooper (back) next to Tony Higgins, front centre Keith Murray and then Nigel, who also won the Kent Open Judo Championship. 


Thank you to everyone, once again, who made these events special for our veteran PTI’s!




If you know of a significant birthday, or special event, coming up then please let us know in good time and we will spread the word amongst our current 350 RMA PT Branch members.




We were delighted that former PTI, Bob Leefmans, and some of his family were able to join us at the last RMA PT Branch Reunion, which was a lifetime dream achieved by Bob (see photo). In normal circumstances, travelling all the way from the USA would be difficult enough, but as many of his former PT colleagues will know, Bob is severely disabled as he has been for many years, following his tragic free-fall parachute incident, which left him paralysed from the waist down.

Bob never complains at all and is a huge inspiration to us all in the way that he has just got on with life and has maintained a positive attitude despite his pain and suffering.


However, recently his health and circumstances have deteriorated somewhat and his family have asked us if we can help as other avenues have now been exhausted. Bob’s needs are now quite complex but some simple changes in his living arrangements would increase his quality of life quite considerably.


Terry Harrison (and other PTI colleagues) have been in touch with Bob recently and as a result, we think that the best way to help Bob in his hour of need is to open up a special page for him on the GoFundMe website in an attempt to see what we can do to raise some money for improvements for Bob. Terry has kindly now organised the page for Bob and explains the situation as follows:

Royal Marines PTI Veteran, Bob Leefmans, served in the Corps between 1965 and 1979.

“Following an unfortunate parachute accident in 1976, whilst taking part in a Royal Marines display jump at the Withdean Stadium in Brighton, Bob was left paralysed, losing complete use of both legs.

Today, Bob lives in Florida, USA, and relies completely on his powered wheelchair and a specially converted vehicle to enable him to work at a Community School testing adult students, as well as attend and serve at a local church, which he has been a member of for many years.

Bob has received support from the RMA Charity for a state of the arts wheelchair that has helped with his growing mobility needs. Although no longer able to drive, Bob is able to continue his employment at a local school and this provides a level of independence.

However, as he gets a little older he is finding it more difficult to negotiate around his kitchen, which requires adaptation to be more wheelchair friendly. Alterations to lowering the level worktops and adjustments to enable his wheelchair to approach worktops head on as opposed to side on, which causes side strain to his body. Bob is finding it increasingly difficult. 

We hope it is possible to raise enough money to enable Bob to make alterations to his home, which will go some way to improving his quality of life as he approaches retirement.

Giving him the mobility around his own home will enable him to continue Independent living for as long as possible.

We hope very much we can make this possible through this the GoFundMe initiative”.

Terry Harrison MBE, JP

You can email Bob at:

If you knew Bob and would like to make a contribution please go to the special website giving page by clicking on the following link, which is now live.

It would be great if we could raise enough to make the quality of life more bearable for one of our former PT Branch colleagues and thank you for any kind support that you may be able to offer.



Thank you to everyone who help and motivate us to keep our RMA PT Branch colleagues in touch, especially in this difficult Coronavirus situation. I am hoping to put together a PT Newsletter for the end of August and would welcome any memories, articles, photos etc. that can be included, so please send me whatever you can to be shared with others.

With all good wishes in the meantime,


Peter Brown MBE MSc.

Hon Chairman RMA PT Branch


If you are present in any of these photos and would like them removed please contact or call 02393 874 661.


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