Major errors

It seems my doubts about Major Fabian Faversham-Pullen the promoter of Camp Valour – the proposal to convert Hubberston Fort into a facility for ex-service persons – were well founded.

The Major, whose photo can be seen here, had aroused the interest of several veterans’ organisations that are in the business investigating people who make dubious claims about their military service.

As I pointed out in my earlier post, Companies House records show the Major’s date of birth as August 1974.

The glossy brochure produced by the promoters of Camp Valour claimed that the Major had spent 25 years in the forces and three years studying for a law degree.

He then (my emphasis) helped to set up the charity D-Day revisited.

On checking on the Charity Commission’s website I discovered that the D-Day charity had been set up in 2009 – which meant Major Fabian had packed rather a lot into his 45 years.

There was also the issue of his apparent change of name from Shaun Keven Patrick Pullen to Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen and the acquisition en route of the rank of Major.

Another complication was that these various veterans organisations could find no trace of him serving in the military.

However, just to show how dangerous it is to jump to conclusions, Camp Valour’s Chief Operations Officer Nichola Willcox had a simple explanation for all these anomalies.

Part of his 25 years in the army was as a reservist so there was an overlap between his various activities.

As for the the two Pullens with different first names and the same birthday – twin brothers!

And the failure to find any trace of Major Fabian’s military record – he served either under his mother’s maiden name, or, if Camp Valour’s Facebook page is to be believed, his foster mother’s maiden name.

Ms Willcox told the Pembrokeshire Herald newspaper that, notwithstanding the fact that he was completely genuine, Fabian had offered his resignation from the project and was handing over the reins to a colleague who wished to remain anonymous.

And, in the equivalent of putting down a smokescreen to cover the retreat, Ms Willcox told the paper’s reporter that Camp Valour would be making an official complaint to PCC “regarding the behaviour of Cllr Mike Stoddart and his abuse of position in his seat of authority”.

And, if that wasn’t enough to put the wind up me, they were seeking legal advice “to ascertain what can be done about the lies and mistruths initiated by […] Cllr Stoddart”.

One of the questions I had raised about the project was whether it was possible to accommodate 250 ex-service personnel + an unspecified number of support staff at Hubberston Fort.

Ms Willcox countered this by pointing out that it was “well documented that the fort was built to house 250 officers and men.”

Now comparing the space requirements of serving soldiers in the second half of the 19th century with present day standards would be silly enough, but I have it on good authority that some two weeks earlier Camp Valour told Pembrokeshire County Council that it had concluded that the 250 number was too high.

So Ms Willcox’s explanation to the Herald was disingenuous at best.

Together with a couple of other councillors, I met with Ms Willcox and Major Faversham-Pullen on 24 January when we were presented with a glossy brochure and business plan.

In it were details of a variety of “funding streams” available for Camp Valour CIC to draw on.

These included Forces in Mind Trust (£100,000 max) Royal British Legion (£100,000 max) Army Benevolent fund (£250,000) Armed Forces Covenant (£20,000 pa max) and Help for Heroes (£500,000 max).

I have now seen an email from Camp Valour to PCC which shows that, less than two weeks after that meeting, all this funding from armed forces charities had been abandoned.

The reason offered by Camp Valour’s management was that it would be unfair to accept money from these sources until such time as the armed forces community could benefit from the restored fort.

An alternative explanation is that these military charities would be the first port of call for the veterans’ organisations investigating the Major and Camp Valour’s bona fides and when questions began to be asked it was decided that discretion was the better part of Valour and the Major and his troops headed for the hills.

And as we now know the project has been abandoned completely.

It should be noted that, in her correspondence with the Herald, Ms Willcox was keen to emphasise that at no time had Major Faversham-Pullen misrepresented his military service.

“Fabian at no time, in any meeting, in any brochure or at any time stated that he had served in the Gulf War or Parachute Regiment.” She wrote.

That may be the case, but people who know more about these things than me claim that his headgear in the photo bears a striking resemblance to the paras’ famous red beret.

For anyone interested in this sort of thing, Camp Valour’s business plan in all its glory can be accessed here.

While on the subject of misleading information, I came across this on the BBC’s website recently.

This was in response to the record 20.6 degrees C recorded at Trawsgoed on 25 February.

The average for this time of year is 10 degrees C.

This was a perfectly reasonable response from BBC weatherman Nick Miller who explained that the British weather could be very variable.

However the BBC couldn’t resist calling up the alarmist Green Party leader Caroline Lucas to tell us it was all due to climate change.

But it was Tom Burke of the independent climate change think tank E3G who took the biscuit by claiming that the temperature was double what it would normally be.

Now it is true that 20 is twice 10, but anyone who understands the first thing about physics knows that these sort of calculations don’t apply to intensive properties like temperature.

For instance, if these temperatures were expressed in Fahrenheit they would be 50 and 68 and the percentage change would be 36% rather than 100%.

The confusion arises because in every day speech we use heat (an extensive property) and temperature (an intensive property) interchangeably whereas they are entirely different.

The best explanation of this difference I have come across is to imagine two identical buckets of water at, say, 50 degrees C.

When these two buckets are poured into a larger bucket the temperature remains at 50 degrees, but the heat content of the larger bucket is double that of either of the smaller buckets.

The difference is that intensive properties are quantity independent – in terms of temperature a cup of water at boiling point is identical to a bath full.

A gram of iron has the same density as a ton, but not the same mass.