Christmas

Royal Navy officers aiming to top the charts with Sailing Home for Christmas festive single

Two Royal Navy officers are hoping to sail to the top of the charts with a festive song they wrote for charity while on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Lieutenant Commander Dave Emery and Lieutenant Commander Phil Clark, both Merlin helicopter observers, are aiming to hit the Christmas number one spot this year, with their single Sailing Home for Christmas.

After returning home from deployment, Dave and Phil met with their band members from the Little Red Ambulance and Culdrose Military Wives Choir to record the track.

Both officers wrote the Christmas-themed charity single while serving on board the aircraft carrier with 820 Naval Air Squadron, during Operation Fortis this time last year.

Since the single was published to the band's YouTube channel, the song's official video has been viewed more than 11,000 times in less than four days.

The video shows the band wearing brightly-coloured Christmas-themed jumpers and the Culdrose Military Wives Choir wearing purple Santa hats.

Husband and father of three young children Lt Cdr Dave Emery said: "Our band has been writing Christmas songs together for 10 years and is now a bit of an annual tradition.

"Life has taken the band in all different directions, although we kept the friendships going, writing and performing Christmas songs, with this one being our tenth recording.

Lt Cdr Dave Emery and Ltd Cdr Phil Clark DATE02122022 CREDIT Little Red Ambulance.jpg
Lt Cdr Dave Emery and Ltd Cdr Phil Clark performing on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture: Little Red Ambulance).

"Phil and I just so happened to be deployed together on HMS Queen Elizabeth and we decided to write this song to highlight the struggles of being away on a seven-month deployment away from friends, family and loved ones.

"It was really tough, not just for my wife, who was taking care of our children, but for all of the families being separated."

Lt Cdr Dave Emery described the support network through the Military Wives Choir in Culdrose as "absolutely amazing".

"They all look after each other, they all sing together, and it is a great release for them and a way for them to bond and helps them cope with us being away," he said.

"So, it is really nice for us to be able to use give something back to them for supporting our wives whilst we were away.

"During the deployment, we played a lot of songs. We performed a live gig on the flight deck in front of pretty much the whole of the ship's company.

"I am fortunate enough to be back this Christmas, it is really hard being separated from your family any time of the year, but especially at Christmas time, as you really want to be back sharing in the magic of Christmas, spending time with family, but the need of the service sometimes takes us elsewhere.

"We recognise there are a lot of people who are unable to come back from deployment and see loved ones this year."

He went on: "This charity song is a great opportunity to highlight to everyone in the UK how hard it is for the families of military people who serve abroad at Christmas.

"This year we have all our family coming to have a cosy and warm Christmas here in Cornwall and I am feeling very lucky to have that this year."

Watch: HMS Queen Elizabeth: Below decks on an aircraft carrier

Proceeds from the single will be donated to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and the Culdrose Military Wives Choir, who provided the backing vocals for the track.

The release comes as hundreds of families are reunited for the holidays with the return of HMS Defender and HMS Queen Elizabeth to Portsmouth.

The Helston-based pair decided to record the Christmas song with their band Little Red Ambulance after returning from their deployment to the Far East.

Adrian Bell, chief executive of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, said the single captured the "highs and lows of service life".

He added: "The men and women of the Royal Navy routinely deploy all round the world for many weeks and months and can often accumulate not far short of two years separation in any three-year period.

"We recognise that not everyone will be sailing home for Christmas and so our thoughts and thanks go to all those who will be deployed or on duty over this period. This time of year can be harder than usual for them as well as their families and loved ones back home."

Culdrose Military Wives Choir recorded the three-part harmony accompaniment on the Christmas song.

Choir lead Ciara Graham said: "We may be used to deployments in the Armed Forces community, but they are never easy for the serving person or their family members at home, especially when children are young.

"This song perfectly captures the emotions we feel when anticipating a homecoming at Christmas, it's magical, so we are thrilled to have added our voices to this compelling, catchy track."