Skies to light up for war veterans

Tony and Rita Blackman collecting for war veterans at Anglia Motel in Fleet.
Tony and Rita Blackman collecting for war veterans at Anglia Motel in Fleet.
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A firework display in Fleet Hargate is hoped to send funds rocketing so war veterans can go on their annual pilgrimage to Normandy.

Next year’s trip is especially important because, as well as being the last one, it is the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

Harold Payne, who is hosting the firework display at the Anglia Motel and has been running trips for the past 20 years, said: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away – and I’m afraid ours are getting too old to go on any more trips.

“When I started doing the trips there were 52 veterans but now there’s only one original left.

“People don’t realise how many of our young lads died there – 45,000 lives were lost and 14,700 were our boys. So many graves with aged 16 on them – that’s no age.

“We want to make this one extra special and have organised a special guide and a trip to the submarine pens at Zanzibar.

“We’ll be taking along a vicar and having a proper service with a guard of honour, the Last Post and God Save the Queen.

“People stand and watch us because some people just go along and lay a wreath but we do it properly.”

Proceeds from the 40-minute fireworks display which will be held on Saturday will go towards the cost of ten special carnation wreaths depicting the national flag of every country involved in the battle.

Gates open at 5pm, with the bonfire being lit at 6pm.