A mobile war museum has hit the road to raise funds for our local heroes and veterans.
It contains things like guns and ammunition collected from the First and Second World Wars – and Anglia Motel boss Harold Payne, the man behind the travelling exhibition, is appealing for donations of more wartime memorabilia.
Harold has a picture perfect idea for the outside of the exhibition van – 14ft by 8ft images of evocative scenes like the Lincolnshire-based Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Normandy, the Omaha cemetery and possibly a scene from the Valley of Death.
Harold has so far kitted out the mobile museum at his own expense, but has appealed for help with the cost of the pictures.
He said: “The big ones are going to cost about £700 a piece.
“Yesterday, I had a businessman who came in and said ‘I will give you £350 towards it’, which is nice, isn’t it?”
Harold has devoted a large part of his life to ex-servicemen and women, as as well today’s service personnel – and to spreading the message about the sacrifices they made and continue to make.
Harold said: “I was born in 1940 but I can remember the thousand bomber raids on Germany when they (the Lancasters) used to go over the marsh and meet up in The Wash.”
He watched with his father from the seabank at Gedney Drove End and says: “You could see across The Wash a glow in the night sky.”
Harold and an army of volunteers have raised about £580,000 for ex-service and modern day service good causes over the past 22 years.
Over that time Harold has also taken groups of ex-servicemen to war graves to lay wreaths to the fallen of all nationalities.
At the outset, Harold was working alongside 60 war veterans but, sadly, their ranks have dwindled to just three. Videos of veterans talking about their experiences will be shown in the mobile museum to teach the young about the reality of wars, and schools will be among places visited.
Harold said: “Young people have to understand that war doesn’t achieve anything.”
He already has a collection of military equipment on his motel site, but is planning a big addition.
Harold said: “I want to buy a Chieftain tank for the children to learn about what a tank really looks like. It’s going to cost at least £20,000.”
He also hopes to build a memorial in Fleet Hargate dedicated to the men and women who have lost their lives in modern day conflicts. Anyone who can help with the pictures – or donate things like photographs or medals to the mobile exhibition – can contact Harold on 07530 006867.