- Credit: ©ARCHANT } NORFOLK 2002.
On Saturday last we took my father in-law to the Blackmore Gardens for the Armed Forces Day service.
He is the sole surviving Sidmothian Burma Star Veteran and former Standard Bearer.
He thought this was his last opportunity to put on his medals and attend such a service. At 87 years of age, it is not easy for him to attend such functions, especially after recently having a heart attack and having to let his wife go into a nursing home, yet he still wanted to go and pay his respects.
We had arranged a wheelchair for him as he cannot stand for any period of time, nor walk as far as the memorial club where he had purchased tickets for the meal afterwards.
It was, therefore, with some disappointment that he was almost totally ignored by all but the very few and was not given any consideration whatsoever. Only two people came over to speak to him: Mr O’Connor, to give him an order of service and welcome him, as did an old soldier who he knew. No one else even acknowledged him, including the chairman of the council nor anyone from the British Legion. It appeared that they were all far too busy patting themselves on the back and cosying up to our American visitors so that they could get into the limelight.
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When we eventually managed to get into the war memorial club there was a crush of people and no one gave any courtesy to an old veteran in a wheelchair. It was distressing to see some of the ‘ladies’ even blocking his way as they were busy guarding their tables. We even had to ask for the entrance doors to be opened fully to enable us to get him in.
Once we eventually managed to get into the room, it became obvious that the function had been oversubscribed and it was impossible to get a place for my father-in-law let alone ourselves. He was so appalled by the behaviour that he told me to ‘please get me of here’. In the end, we took him out for a pub luncheon. His final comment was what were my friends and I fighting for to be treated as such.
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Alan J Stone Dip PFS
Hand and Pen