Twenty Royal Marines and their families have travelled to Rondane, Norway to celebrate Christmas with their counterparts from Norwegian commando units.
Organised by The Royal Marines Club and Rondane Høyfjellshotell, in association with Veteranforbundet SIOPS and The Royal Marines Charity, Juleferie 2017 sets out to give serving and veteran commandos, from both countries, a short break with their families free of any significant expense.
Places on the holiday were awarded to those with physical, mental or financial challenges. The idea being to help families relax with winter sports activities and complimentary board and accommodation at Rondane’s premier spa hotel.
Plans for the event came about when explorer Inge Solheim, Royal Marines Club Chairman Marcus Chidgey, Trustee Ray Mead, and Rondane Høyfjellshotell Marketing Director Ole T. Hoelseth started talking about how the hotel’s facilities could be used to support the armed forces.
Eight months later, and with significant support from the Royal Marines Corps and senior Norwegian military personnel, the inaugural Juleferie 2017 is taking place. Deputy Commandant General of the Royal Marines, Richard Spencer, comments:
“British Commandos have fought alongside the Norwegian Military since WWII, and up until very recently the Royal Marines deployed in the Rondane area for winter training and exercise. Norway and the UK enjoy a unique and special friendship. ”
The opening of Juleferie 2017 was marked by a commemorative ceremony, where a Commando Dagger and a Sami Knife was exchanged to symbolise the special relationship between the UK and Norway. This week will see families from both countries enjoying time together in the breathtaking setting of the Rondane National Park. Skiing, ice-bathing and dog-sledding is on offer, alongside craft produce and fine dining, something the Rondane Høyfjellshotell is reputed for.
“We are looking forward to making this a very special stay for all the families involved. I think even Santa Claus might know of our plans.” says hotel director Ole P. Christensen.
The holiday is as much about having fun in a relaxed environment as it is a way to recuperate from issues like PTSD. Often it’s not just the veterans themselves that suffer, it impacts the happiness of their families too.
“This is a way for us to give back to the families whose struggles often go unrecognised. A week away, free from the stresses of day-to-day life, will no doubt do everyone participating in Juleferie 2017 a world of good.” says Marcus Chidgey, Chair of The Royal Marines Club.
Uniquely, Juleferie 2017 brings in to focus the nature of combat and how all military personnel, no matter which nation they might represent, share similar experiences. It demonstrates there’s an international family of veterans charities that will come together to support friends and allies from other nations.
General Sverre Diesen, former Chief of Defence for Norway comments: “When we train together on exercise, we are united in preparing to confront the challenges we have in common around the world. It’s clear to me that, when our veterans return from the field, the same spirit of international cooperation should endure.”
The Royal Marines Club Juleferie 2017 is taking place between 3rd and 8th December at the Rondane Høyfjellshotell in Rondane, Norway. The first event of its kind between Norway and the UK, there are plans for Rondane to host many more Juleferie holidays to come.