Andrew Rawding – ‘Love The Terrorist’
This year’s John Rae lecture was always going to be very different from last year’s where we hosted Lord Winston. Given the background of our speaker this year, I hoped that the talk would focus on some controversial political and religious issues, as well as presenting some very challenging (and often uncomfortable) ethical questions for the audience. Andrew certainly fulfilled my expectations and more, and I am sure that I was not the only one who left the Theatre on Wednesday night feeling inspired, but emotionally exhausted.Andrew Rawding was recommended to me as a speaker about a year ago as a man who would deliver a passionate and very personal talk to the school about his experiences with terrorists in Northern Ireland. As a serving British Army Officer, his own experiences of Army tours in Bosnia and, later as a padre, in Helmand Province, albeit a very dark journey, would provide interesting topics.
Andrew’s life has been split between the army and the church, having resigned his army commission in 1999 in order to follow a call to holy orders. Having been ordained in 2002, he then served as chaplain to the Royal Navy and as padre to the 40 Commando Royal Marines who are based here at the Norton Manor Camp. He joined the Marines on the front line in Afghanistan in 2010, experiencing the true horrors of this conflict with the Taliban, with the Taunton-based Marines suffering some devastating casualties.
What will stay with me most from this talk will be the candour and frankness with which Andrew described how a devastating IRA bomb attack early in his army career changed the course of his life forever. Rather than attempt to summarise the whole of the talk here, which would be to do it an injustice, I would like to end with Andrew’s concluding remarks on Wednesday evening. In essence, his message was that we should all aim to love and be more tolerant of others, whatever our own personal circumstances.