FEATURE: Proud Boxford parents share link with There But Not There campaign to remember war fallen with Tommy tributes
It is easy to miss the figure standing in silent vigil by a war grave in a peaceful Suffolk churchyard.
Then, from a different angle, you see him ... the ghostly outline of a First World War soldier, or Tommy. He is there, but not there.
The iconic image is one of thousands spreading its poignant message across the world as the centenary of the 1918 armistice arrived today.
There But Not There is a campaign by the charity Remembered to honour the fallen, teach about their sacrifice and raise millions of pounds for wounded and traumatised war veterans.
Its focus is not only the First World War that claimed the lives of 888,246 British and Commonwealth troops, but also those lost and injured in conflicts up to the present day.
For Tresham Gregg and his wife Tess, the Tommy figure by the grave of First World War casualty Earnest Peachey at St Mary the Virgin Church in Edwardstone is specially significant.
Their son, Rowley, and daughter Henny are the driving forces behind Remembered, and Tresham is one of its ambassadors.
Ex-Army Captain Rowley Gregg, who won the Military Cross in Afghanistan, and Henny Cochrane spearheaded the launch of the charity early this year.
He is director of operations and Henny – with years of experience working for military charities, but now on maternity leave after giving birth to daughter Maisie last month – heads communications and fundraising.
The brother and sister were born less than two years apart and have a sister, Georgina, an ex-paediatric nurse, who also lives in Suffolk.
“Henny and Rowley have very complementary strengths,” said Tresham. “She is artistic and he is determined and dogged. They bounce ideas off each other.”
Former head of the Army, Lord Dannatt, now the charity’s patron, was part of the project from the start. He and Henny got Rowley involved.
Ambassadors include inspirational ex-Lance Corporal Cayle Royce, who lost both legs above the knee in Afghanistan and has since rowed the Atlantic twice in the gruelling Talisker Whiskey Challenge.
But he, like other veterans living with devastating physical or mental scars, is also typical of those Remembered exists to help.
“They will need help from our beneficiary charities for the rest of their lives,” says Rowley.
In the past month, life-size Tommy figures have appeared in places as diverse as Canary Wharf, where Tresham and Tess were collecting donations, and Sydney Harbour during the recent Invictus Games.
Communities across the UK have bought them, along with perspex silhouettes for public buildings like churches and town halls.
The charity is also selling small, limited edition perspex Tommies which will be the biggest fund raiser. Proceeds will be shared among six military charities, including Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.
“We are overwhelmed by the support the UK has shown towards this project,” said Rowley.
“What we have done differently to everyone else is to use art to inspire all age groups to be a part of this.”
He was also thrilled when the Chancellor agreed to repay the VAT on their merchandise following an online petition.
The campaign was inspired by see-through silhouettes first created by sculptor Martin Barraud for a project in Kent.
“With the potential amount of money we could raise, I said we need to start a charity and come up with a plan,” said Rowley.
“We spent six months making sure we were ready for our launch in February.”
He received the Military Cross for leadership and courage in 2009, after an operation to clear a Taliban stronghold in which three of his troop were killed and more than 20 injured.
“I have always said my medal reflects what my troops went through as a whole,” he said. “We went through it as brothers in arms. A number of bravery awards were also given to soldiers under my command.”
His father says: “The passion he shows as director of operations for the charity is because he sees it as an opportunity to help those who suffered so appallingly, and are left with life-changing physical injuries and mental problems. It’s because he saw it first hand.”
Retired brigadier Tresham’s family has a proud military tradition dating back at least three generations. His father, Colonel Tresham ‘Gunner’ Gregg, died in 2014, aged 94.
His own distinguished Army career included his appointment as senior British officer responsible for all UN forces in the Balkans, and running the British Army’s training in Germany.
Earlier, he commanded the 15th/19th Hussars in Germany, and recalls how a very young Rowley brought a smile to the face of Colonel-in-Chief Princess Margaret by accidentally tipping a plate of biscuits over her feet while attempting to bow.
Tresham retired from the Army in 2002. He now works part-time as senior consultant for a global emergency evacuation company.
There But Not There is only the beginning for Remembered. “We have big plans for next year, which is the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War,” said Rowley.
The 10-inch Tommy figures can be bought for £29.99 at www.therebutnotthere.org.uk.
A voucher is included to have them engraved with the name of a loved-one at any branch of Timpson’s.