EVENT: Ukraine 2 years on: Reflections with Colonel Tim Collins OBE and Ben Remfrey MBE

24 January 2024
Distinguished military veteran, Colonel Tim Collins OBE, is to visit Jersey and reflect on the war in Ukraine, two years since the Russian invasion.

Colonel Tim Collins OBE, who delivered a world-famous speech to his troops on the eve of battle in Iraq, will be in Jersey next month, speaking at a public event hosted by Jersey Overseas Aid, Jersey’s official, publicly-funded aid and development agency.

The event, which takes place on 23rd February, the eve of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at Jersey Arts Centre, will see Colonel Collins joined by Explosive Ordnance Disposal expert Ben Remfrey MBE. The two highly-experienced military veterans will share insights about war in Ukraine, discuss the changing nature of conflict, and review the complex relationship between humanitarian organisations and the military.

“As we approach two years since the devastating conflict began, the need for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine continues,” said Chair of the JOA Commission, Deputy Carolyn Labey.  “Jersey has stood by the people of Ukraine since the beginning, and one of the major pillars of our support has been training civilians – especially women – on de-mining and bomb disposal. I’m so proud that we have played a major part in neutralising some of the millions of mines and unexploded munitions, and that we’ve done so through a charity with strong Channel Islands connections’.

Colonel Collins is the patron of Jersey charity, Friends of Ukraine EOD, which delivers specialist, accredited bomb disposal training to Ukrainian nationals, many of them women. Ben Remfrey established the Charity in 2022 in Guernsey, but the organisation has recently moved to Jersey, where most of its support has originated. Jerseyman Peter Le Sueur OBE is one of the senior instructors at the training centre in Kosovo, and has over 50 years of experience in the sector.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a critical need for assistance in addressing the widespread threat from unexploded ordnance and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). Over 250,000 explosive devices have already been removed and destroyed since March 2022, but millions more persist. Jersey has now trained 51 Ukrainian civilians to international standards of explosive ordnance disposal.

Tickets for the event can be booked at Jersey Arts Centre or by calling the box office on 700444.

Background Information

Colonel Collins was commissioned into the Army and joined the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rangers in Berlin. He passed selection into the SAS in 1988, going on to serve 2 operational tours with the Regiment and 1 tour at HQ Special Forces in York barracks London. He took command of the 1st Royal Irish in the aftermath of the Sierra Leone hostage crisis. After completing several tours, including Northern Ireland and the Falklands, he became aide to the UN Chief of Staff in Cyprus. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Tim took on the role of Project Director for the Peace Support Training Centre in Sarajevo, before returning to HQ Land Command with responsibility for training.

As Commander of the 1st Royal Irish Battle Group, Colonel Collins gained worldwide fame for the eve-of-battle address he delivered to his troops in Kuwait on 19th March 2003.  President Bush hung a copy of the speech in the Oval Office of the White House. From the moment Colonel Collin’s speech in Iraq was made public, he became a hero and an inspiration to world leaders and infantrymen alike.  His book, Rules of Engagement, was published in 2006.

Having founded the Mines Awareness Trust (MAT) in 1999, Guernsey resident Ben Remfrey has been in the EOD and Mine Action Industry for 25+ years. During this period Ben has been at the forefront of an evolving industry, leading innovative projects from the front, often in hazardous regions globally. He was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and being made a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary Club International for the work of the lifesaving work of the organisations he has led. Ben was a former NCO in the British Army’s Royal Engineers, spending much of his service with 59 Independent Commando Squadron RE.

Friends of Ukraine EOD are one of several relief agencies supported by JOA as part of the island’s commitment to addressing the needs of civilians inside Ukraine and in neighbouring countries. To date, Jersey has allocated £3.4 million in life-saving assistance, a combination of JOA funding, an additional £1million funding from the Government of Jersey, and donations from generous islanders collected through the Bailiff’s Ukraine Appeal and Jersey Side by Side.

The Bailiff’s Ukraine Appeal is still ongoing, and Islanders can donate to it through local charity, Jersey Side-By-Side at www.sidebyside.je.