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Principal’s Panui – 31 May 2019


During the Second World War, Group Captain Giles Gantry took part in more than fifty missions over enemy territory in his Lancaster Bomber.  One night in 1944, when his plane was critically damaged by the German guns, he and his navigator were forced to bail out.  Gantry parachuted straight into enemy hands, and spent a year in a prisoner of war camp, before escaping and returning to Britain.

Twenty years later, back in civilian life, Gantry and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, when a man approached their table.

“Excuse me for interrupting you.  Are you by any chance Group Captain Gantry of Bomber Command?”
“I am indeed,” responded the pilot.  “Have we met?”
“We have but you probably don’t remember me.  I was Airman Arthur Chambers.  I packed your parachute the night you got shot down – I assume it worked, Sir”
Gantry shook Chambers warmly by the hand.  “It did indeed; otherwise I wouldn’t be here now!”
Gantry was bothered all night, thinking about that man he had met that day.  Wondering just how many times he might have seen him and not even said, “Hello, how are you today?” because he was a pilot and Chambers was just an ordinary airman.
Gantry thought of the many hours this airman had spent at a table carefully folding the silk of each parachute, holding in his hands each time the life of someone he didn’t even know.

Who’s packing your parachute?
Each of us has someone who provides what we need to make it through the day.  In the rush of each day, we can easily miss what is really important.  We may fail to say hello, congratulate someone on something nice for no reason.  Say thank you to your parents and family, teachers and support staff, bus drivers and shop assistants.  As you go through this week, this month, this year, make an effort to recognise all the people who pack your parachute.  We are all dependent on others in many different ways.

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