MP visits restored footbridge at North Stoke

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert visited North Stoke on Friday evening (17 July) to see a historic footbridge restored by the Gurkhas.

The original suspension bridge was badly damaged last year by a falling oak tree, blocking a footpath across an old course of the River Arun.

A campaign to restore the bridge to its original design was mounted by the Amberley Society and soldiers serving with the 70 Gurkha Field Support Squadron of 36 Engineer Regiment volunteered to carry out the work on a ‘materials only' basis.

On Friday evening, Mr Herbert joined around 160 guests for a special event organised by the Amberley Society to celebrate the project's completion ahead of a formal opening ceremony next week (27 July).

The MP was shown the bridge by Amberley Society Chairman Grahame Joseph and Gurkha officers Major Gavin Brown and Captain Tarabahadur Pun before joining guests for a Gurkha curry and entertainment provided by the Gurkhas and the Amberley Folk Club.

Grahame Joseph commented: "We couldn't have wished for anyone better for this project than 70 Field Support Squadron of the Queen's Gurkha Engineers.  It really has been an impressive performance.  One might have expected to see JCB diggers and huge cranes but out of respect for the environment and to exercise the field skills of the soldiers, everything has been built by hand.

"Under their Commanding Officer Major Gavin Brown the Gurkhas have delivered - on time and below budget - a superb, fully refurbished bridge.  Their professionalism and workmanship has been outstanding, and above all they have been such fun to work with."

Speaking at the event, Nick Herbert said: "Everyone can be proud of this beautiful bridge that blends so well with the natural environment.  It would have been all too easy to construct an ugly modern bridge and I congratulate the Amberley Society, the Gurkhas and all who were involved for what has been achieved."

The MP added: "This evening has shown the special bond between the Gurkhas and the British public, a link whose strength was demonstrated recently by the public reaction to the campaign, led by Joanna Lumley, for fair immigration rights for Gurkha soldiers.  I am proud to have voted in the Commons to support the Gurkhas, and at a time when we are seeing too many casualties in Afghanistan we are all proud of our brave armed forces, including the loyal Gurkhas, who have been serving there."

Money raised during the event on Friday evening will be donated to the Gurkha Welfare Trust.



Notes for Editors

1. The photograph shows Nick Herbert on the bridge with Amberley Society Chairman Grahame Joseph and members of 70 Gurkha Field Support Squadron of 36 Engineer Regiment.

Christopher N Howarth