And tributes also paid to tireless fundraisers

Korean veterans were part of the gathering. Our picture shows John and Christine Booth, Kay and Bernard Barker, Derek Dane, Margaret Mattless and John Page. SG070215-229TW
Korean veterans were part of the gathering. Our picture shows John and Christine Booth, Kay and Bernard Barker, Derek Dane, Margaret Mattless and John Page. SG070215-229TW
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Veterans who have served our country – and today’s servicemen and women – were honoured at a thanksgiving dinner at the Anglia Motel at Fleet on Saturday.

Motel boss Harold Payne and an army of volunteers have raised around £580,000 for good causes connected to ex-service and modern day service personnel over the past 22 years.

Holbeach ATC members (from left) back '  Liam Matson, Amy Lavery;  front ' George, Henry and Joan Lavery. SG070215-220TW

Holbeach ATC members (from left) back ' Liam Matson, Amy Lavery; front ' George, Henry and Joan Lavery. SG070215-220TW

South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes, a guest at the dinner, paid tribute to their astounding success.

He told the gathering of more than 300 people: “I want to personally pay tribute to Harold and his whole team for the work they did this year and the work they have done over the years and to celebrate them.”

When Harold and the team first set out, there were 60 Second World War veterans but, sadly, their ranks have dwindled to just three.

On Saturday, Harold presented £1,000 to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and £1,200 to the RAF Marham charity, which was represented on the evening by top brass from the base.

World War Two Desert Rat John Summerson with Ian Foster and Sue Stanley. SG070215-221TW

World War Two Desert Rat John Summerson with Ian Foster and Sue Stanley. SG070215-221TW

Later this year, there will be another £10,000 going to The Royal Anglian Regiment’s benevolent fund, but Harold says the total could climb to £12,000 or £13,000.

Harold said: “That will make it about £82,000 that we have given them in the last five years.”

The fundraisers call themselves The Help our Local Heroes and Veterans Fund – and, although Harold is a driving force, he’s the first to point out they are not a one-man band.

Harold said: “I have got some fantastic helpers and without them we would never be able to do anything.”

As well as fundraising, the team have led tours of First and Second World War graves in Europe.

Harold said the dinner was a thanksgiving for those who served their country and continue to serve as well as a tribute to those who lost their lives so that we can live in freedom today.