Day 24 – The Return Home

Graham Nelson

Our 9am team meeting started the process of travelling home. One member of the team realised he’d need to take an opportunity to visit Peter Bramleys for final time, and by our planned 10am departure almost all the team were showered and packed. The driving teams set off in convoys with very loaded vans back to Johannesburg Airport.

A brief stop at Kroonstaad services to break the journey, and a brief sighting of two giraffes marked a thankfully uneventful journey. Or it would have been if the diary finished 15 minutes before we arrived at the airport, but alas one driver tested who would win in a fight between a metal bollard and the van. Minor scrapes later, it was clear the bollard was the victor.

James Watson kicked into action on arrival at the airport, and once the check in process got going things went smoothly. All onboard, and (incorrectly) having been assured that all our bags were onboard, we set off for Heathrow.

Our tour to South Africa officially ended in the very early hours of Tuesday morning when we touched down at Heathrow, having enjoyed an 02:55 breakfast onboard. Early arrival, and some rapid customs and baggage processes meant we set off to Bisley just after seven, having played a giant game of coach tetris with our tonne of luggage. Seth Dowley’s bag clearly decided there should be a minimum time between being packed and arriving, so will be collected tomorrow but all others were present and correct.

As we arrived at Bisley, travel weary and looking forward to returning to our homes and families, we have to reflect on an amazing tour. We have taken forward the GB performance to a record breaking level. We won the Protea for the second time in a row, and had several stand out individual performances throughout both the SABU and World competitions. Our silver medal performance in the Palma was score- and group-wise beyond anything we could have imagined. As new caps, your diarists have found the experience an amazing one. We’ve learnt so much and the experienced caps have been so welcoming and supportive. It feels as though the base we are building sets us up for so much future success.

As we return to real life, we’d like to extend our thanks to all of those who supported us over the past few years as we trained and prepared, and to all of those who enabled this tour to happen.

Message 10, Graham, Rosanne & the team.