This Friday 13 March, the bow of HMS Victory, the HMS Warrior figurehead at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and The Yomper at the Royal Marines Museum, Eastney, will get the Red Nose treatment in support of Comic Relief.
Red Nose Day has a special resonance this year for the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) since a former Royal Marine is taking centre stage on the very first BBC People’s Strictly for Comic Relief. To mark the occasion, Red Noses are adorning some of our principle ships and landmarks.
Lance Corporal Cassidy Little is well known to the Museum, having conducted some interviews in his role at British Forces Broadcasting (BFBS) with curatorial colleagues. It was in this guise that he was invited to HMS Victory, one of the NMRN’s most important assets, to interview Commanding Officer Lt Commander Rod Strathern, little knowing it was a ruse to get him “ambushed” by the programme.
A host of ballroom dancers, the Royal Marines Band, lead professional dancer Brendan Cole and former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Kimberley Walsh, of girls group Girls Aloud were aboard to give Cassidy a welcome that was seen by millions on the television.
As the BBC website explains: “Cassidy Little is a former Royal Marine medic, who lost his right leg below the knee during a tour of Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. An improvised explosive device was triggered, resulting in three fatalities. Despite his own horrific injuries Cassidy selflessly attempted to tend to his colleagues on the ground after the attack.”
Following the incident, Cassidy spent a week in an induced coma, and two months in hospital. He then undertook intensive rehabilitation with his fellow injured Marines, who commented that it was Cassidy’s optimism and sense of humour that helped them through an incredibly tough time. Major Steve McCulley, who spent over two years in rehab with Cassidy, stated: “Every single seriously injured service person goes through very dark periods and were it not for Cassidy, those dark periods would have been far longer and far harder for many to deal with, me included.”
Cassidy himself confesses: “Strictly Come Dancing is a guilty pleasure. It’s just the dancing: it’s beautiful to watch.”
His fellow Marines and all of the National Museum of the Royal Navy can’t wait to see him take to the Strictly dancefloor for Comic Relief. As Major Steve McCulley reveals: “no one will admit to it, but Marines all have a soft spot for a bit of Strictly!”Show your support for Cassidy and tune in to watch The People’s Strictly.