10 September 2014
The New Zealand Defence Force Invictus Games Team, currently in London, were treated to an experience few can boast - a private reception and guided tour of the House of Lords by the Rt Hon the Lord Tom McNally.
Lord McNally, previous Minister of State and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, extended the invitation during a recent trip to New Zealand. Whilst in Wellington as part of a delegation visiting the British High Commission, he met Kiwi team members at a memorial service launching the Invictus 100-Day Countdown for New Zealand. It was his first visit to New Zealand.
"I thought the tour would be a way for me to say thank you for the warm welcome I received from the team when I was visiting," Lord McNally said. "The memorial service held in Wellington was a special time for me to remember the strong links between our two countries. It moved me when I thought about those that fought, side by side, at war."
The Defence Force team were humbled by the tour of the Palace of Westminster and House of Lords. "This is special - something I will never forget," said CPL Jason Sturley - one of the Kiwi contingent. "It's a real honour that Lord McNally wanted to show us around this amazing building."
"When you watch some of the ceremonies that happen in this building from home, it's hard to understand it - but being here and seeing it up close, it all seems to make sense," said CPL Kelly Whittle, another competitor at the Games.
The tour ended with the Defence Force team taking in a view of the Thames River from the Terrace at Westminster.
"I truly hope the Games become a permanent and ongoing tradition," said Lord McNally. "The New Zealand team are great ambassadors. You only have to meet them to admire their courage and resilience."
The Games run for four days and open Wednesday night (Thursday morning NZ time) with a Ceremony at London's Queen Elizabeth Park. Twelve NZ Defence Force competitors are at the Games in a bid to bring back gold.
For more information, contact the Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.