Last week I did an interview on the radio that to me was truly inspiring.
I had already heard the story off air and I knew it was something I had to bring to air for all the listeners and into print for all you readers.
Mark Harry Redknap may not be a name familiar to many of you out there. Any relation to Harry himself? You may ask, well firstly it was a nickname he was given in the forces and apparently there is some sort of a distant family link. But secondly and more importantly, if I then said Lance Corporal Mark “Harry” Redknap 24540592 (a number that he can still reel off by heart) of the Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales Own) then hopefully your interest in the name should start. He was part of a recce troop which dealt in reconnaissance. Basically as the name indicates, a Recce Troop’s role is to carry out reconnaisance for its parent Commando. This task may involve operating behind enemy lines in order to gather intelligence on enemy forces and preparing the way for the main force.
Mark spent 10 very happy years in the army from 1980 to 1990 and travelled to many different locations around the World. However a posting to Belize in 1990 would have meant him spending 12 months apart from his then 6 month old son, so he left for that reason.
Mark carried on doing various bouts of security for the army and he first arrived in Mallorca in 1995 to work for Sunseeker but only stayed for 6 months. After that more years of security for the army ensued, when in 2007 he decided to return to Mallorca.
He then started a business called Marine Shine Polishing which he still has to this day.
From the age of 10 Mark discovered he had a liking for art and everything he’s done since has been self taught. He used to watch a Neighbour of his who was a painter and he was fascinated by him.
Art in fact was his only O level in school where he got a B which he says should have been an A!
In January this year he took a call from a friend in the Ministry of Defence who asked him did he still paint and would he be interested in doing a painting of a fallen SAS soldier for his family? He said of course he would and there would be no charge. Since then he started a Facebook page called “Who Paints Wins”, which has significantly raised the profile of the work he is doing.
All the portraits he does of course are special, particularly to the families but there are two that standout in particular. Two weeks ago Mark was asked by Lyn Rigby to paint a portrait of her Son Lee Rigby.
For those of you not familiar with this story. On the afternoon of 22nd May 2013, Fusilier Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was attacked and killed by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London. Rigby was off duty and walking along Wellington Street when he was attacked and killed. It was an act of terrorism that shocked the Nation.
The Prime Minister of the time, David Cameron said, ‘We must redouble our efforts to confront the poisonous narrative of extremism that lay behind the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.’
Mark is honoured to be asked to paint his portrait and he hopes to be able to present it at the Remembrance Sunday Service in London in November.
Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was deployed to Afghanistan on the 8th September 2010 as part of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment. Having trained as an Arms and Explosives Search dog handler, he was attached to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards on 19th February 2011.
On 1st March 2011, Lance Corporal Tasker was taking part in a patrol with his dog, Theo, when they were engaged by small arms fire, during which Lance Corporal Tasker was struck and died from the injuries he sustained. Sadly, on returning to Camp Bastion, his dog Theo suffered a seizure and died.
Lieutenant Colonel David Thorpe, Commanding Officer, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, said:
‘It is a challenge to put into words what Lance Corporal Liam Tasker meant to those he worked with. To his friends he was a mate who could put a smile on your face; he was that man who you wanted around and who you wanted to spend time with.
To the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment he was a strong, reliable soldier and an expert ‘Dog Man’. He genuinely loved the dogs he worked with and was always able to get the best out of them. He was one of the highly qualified dog trainers in Afghanistan and had spent time at our training establishment making sure that the new soldiers coming out of training had the best possible skills and experience imparted into them.
Epitomising the hardworking, determined and ambitious nature of our very best soldiers, he wanted to go to Afghanistan. He wanted to ply his trade in the harshest of environments, to be outside of his comfort zone, and he wanted to be successful. He was. The work he did in his five months in Afghanistan saved countless lives, of that I have no doubt. He flew the Royal Army Veterinary Corps’ flag high; he led from the front and made us proud.
Lance Corporal Tasker wanted to go far in the Army and he had all of the attributes needed to be a career soldier, with capacity to spare. His ability to command whilst maintaining his sense of humour had already marked him out as one to watch. His loss has hurt every single one of us today. He will be missed. He will not be forgotten.
My thoughts and condolences and those of the whole regiment go out to his family and friends.’
It is a heartbreaking story and Mark has been asked to paint a portrait of Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and his beloved dog Theo.
Many years on from when these troubles in Iraq and Afghanistan first started soldiers are still being killed which means a hobby that Mark started as a child could now be turned into a full time job. His paintings are offering huge comfort to the families of these fallen soldiers. Each portrait is lovingly painted free of charge and he includes postage and packing. To date he has completed 7 of which 6 have been delivered. He is currently working on 5 more with another 14 requested. He only gets time to paint in his spare time when he’s not working on his Marine Polishing Business, which means each portrait takes a lot longer than it normally would. Moving forward Mark would love to spend more time on painting and now he’s looking at different ways of being able to do that.
He is looking for sponsorships or donations to help him give up his business to concentrate fully on his painting. Straight after our radio Interview, one of the listeners pledged 500€.
You too can make a donation via his website which is https://www.patreon.com/WHOPAINTSWINS_2021
I have asked the British Consul General to see if there are any possibilities of Government help moving forward. If any of you out there have any further ideas of help for Mark, they would be gratefully received. You can send them to me or directly to Mark on (0034) 666 610 014.
I’m sure like me you agree this is an inspiring story and one that needs to continue to offer comfort to families of people that have fought and given their lives for our right to freedom.
Take care everyone and enjoy your Weekend!
Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance!
Follow him on Twitter @DadTaxi1 & Instagram @dad.taxi or feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org