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Volunteers give O’Hara’s Battery much-needed TLC

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

Veterans and civilians alike have come together to work on the historic O’Hara’s Battery at the highest point of the Rock.

The team of 14 includes 12 veterans from the army and Royal Navy, some of whom had served on the Rock during their military careers, and all working under the expert guidance of Peter Jackson from the Gibraltar Heritage Trust.

Their visit is thanks to Alabaré Christian Care and Support, a UK-based charity which helps support vulnerable, homeless and marginalised people, many of them veterans. Last year, a team from Alabaré worked on Lord Airey’s Battery.

Up at O’Hara’s Battery, which was constructed in 1890, the team has been hard at work painting and chipping away at the rust since Monday, all under either a grey and windy Levanter or the searing heat of the sun.

Andrew Lord, Chief Executive of Alabaré, is back with the team and is pleased at the significant progress they have made already.

Despite being the Chief Executive, Mr Lord once again donned his overalls, hi-vis vest, hard hat and safety goggles, all of which have already received a good smearing of paint through use.

By midday on Tuesday, the barrel of the gun had already been completed with two coats of undercoat and a topcoat in battleship grey. The eastern side of the gun had two coats of undercoat, and the western side had its first coat applied.

Mr Lord stated that safety has been a top priority, with the team remaining vigilant of the weather conditions.

He also described the team’s camaraderie as being strong, despite being largely unfamiliar with one another before the project.

“They are a team of people that until they got on the flight, by and large, didn't know each other,” he said.

“They had that common bond of serving, many of them also had spent time in Gibraltar as well. And they've absolutely gelled as a team.”

“They're working hard. They're pulling each other's legs, as well. And it's really, really good. A good team atmosphere.”

Before the team started work on the project, Mr Jackson gave them a tour and a talk about the heritage of the Battery, an element of the trip that Mr Lord said they were all grateful for.

Mr Jackson, he said, was “completely and utterly inspiring”.

This project is the second of its kind and, although it has been different from the first, the community in Gibraltar has been overwhelmingly supportive, said Mr Lord.

“I think the first time went really, really well and we got a really great buzz from it and actually improved people’s well-being,” he said.

“There's always that challenge: is the second time going to be as good? But it's largely a different group of people.”

“Everybody we've spoken to in Gibraltar has been incredibly, incredibly supportive.”

“They're interested in what we're doing.”

“They're interested in why we're doing it, as well.”

“And the reason we're doing it is it's giving something back to an important bit of heritage.”

“Secondly, it's about the journey for improving the well-being of the participants. As well, coming overseas to do it, and everybody has been so interested and so warm, and that's been brilliant.”

The biggest challenge Mr Lord and the charity faced is finding the funding to make it happen.

“Funding for the project has come from various sources, including the government of Gibraltar, Gibraltar Heritage Trust, Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society, local people, and businesses. We are very grateful for this. Without their support. I couldn't do this,” he said.

The coverage given by the Gibraltar Chronicle last year was also acknowledged as a significant motivator for the organiser, who has framed and displayed the newspaper article in their office.

Overall, the project has been a success, with the team working hard to restore O’Hara’s Battery, where the restoration of this piece of heritage will be enjoyed for years to come.

The team flew in last Saturday and will leave on Sunday.

See feature here…e-oharas-battery/

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