Matthew’s mission to aid typhoon victims

Matthew Hilton
Matthew Hilton
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A WIGAN sailor has been sent on a mercy mission to help victims of the typhoon in the Phillipines.

Able Seaman and Warfare Specialist Matthew Hilton is currently in South East Asia with the Royal Navy aboard aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious as it helps with the international relief effort following Typhoon Haiyan. The Abram 21-year-old is part of the upper deck weapons crew. In this role he is responsible for providing force protection for the ship when it travels through areas of heightened risk. He said: “This is a truly massive undertaking. We were in Singapore taking on stores for 48 hours and now we’re working flat out to ensure the aid gets to where it’s needed most.”

Phillipines typhoon

Phillipines typhoon

“I will have been in the Royal Navy for four years in February 2014 and this is the first time that I will have been away over the festive season. However, a belated Christmas is a small price to pay to contribute to such a worthwhile cause.

“I am immensely proud that HMS Illustrious is able to help those who have lost so much. Members of the ship’s company are working around the clock, preparing and delivering aid to isolated communities, helping to rebuild schools, and providing the tools necessary for the Filipino people to begin to rebuild their lives.”

The 22,000-ton aircraft carrier was been re-deployed by David Cameron from counter-piracy patrols around Africa to assist in the Philippines.

“Lusty” as it is affectionately known by her ship’s company of more than 650 men and women and around 200 additional embarked personnel arrived in the Philippines on November 25.

“Paris”, as Matthew is jokingly known, is a member of the Warfare Department onboard HMS Illustrious.

Additionally, he is part of HMS Illustrious’s Response Force. This is a team that is on permanent standby to react to any threats against the ship and her crew.

Matthew said: “One of the Royal Navy’s roles is to ensure maritime security. In order to keep the sea safe for its legitimate users, we must operate in those areas which have been shown to be dangerous for shipping. When we do so, as part of the upper deck weapons crew, I help to ensure our own security.”

The former Golborne High School pupil joined the Royal Navy in February 2010, undertaking his initial training at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint, Cornwall. His first draft was to Type 22 frigate HMS Chatham. And he hasn’t looked back since.

He added: “I know that my family understand why I have to be away over Christmas and are very support of the mission that I am part of.”

HMS Illustrious is part of Operation Patwin. This is the Government’s action to support the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

It will be able to help move people and aid around the country until infrastructure can be repaired.

The ship is well configured to deliver aid, provide fresh water, medical and engineering support to the many islands in the Philippines.

HMS Illustrious forms part of the UK’s Response Force Task Group – a high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required.

The UK has committed £55m worth of aid, a team of medical experts, as well as sending HMS Daring, HMS Illustrious and RAF transport aircraft to assist the effort.