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Ken’s grand surprise for South Holland District Council chairman

Lt Col Simon Bacon, Audrey Willows, Ken Willows and council chairman Rodney Grocock. SG131217-120TW
Lt Col Simon Bacon, Audrey Willows, Ken Willows and council chairman Rodney Grocock. SG131217-120TW

Outgoing ‘Lincolns’ chairman Ken Willows had a £1,000 surprise up his sleeve for the man leading the fundraising for Spalding’s proposed WW2 Memorial.

District council chairman Rodney Grocock, who also chairs the WW2 Memorial Charity, was one of 40 guests attending a Christmas dinner to honour Ken’s 10 years’ dedicated service in the hot seat.

Following presentations to Ken (82) and his wife Audrey, Ken turned the tables by presenting Coun Grocock with a grand on behalf of Spalding branch of The Royal Lincolnshire and Royal Anglian Regimental Association.

“It was a really big surprise,” said Coun Grocock. “I was on the periphery, because it was all about Ken. I nearly fell off my seat. I was so surprised to be given such a large amount of money from such a small organisation. Don’t forget it’s their money, it’s their fundraising.”

The donation will ensure the name of The Lincolns, the county’s own regiment, will live on along with the names of the Spalding people who lay down their lives in order that we may live in peace today.

While Ken has stepped down as Lincolns chairman, “because he’s not getting any younger”, he is one of the team working hard to make the proposed WW2 Memorial a reality in Ayscoughfee Gardens.

Coun Grocock said: “Ken as a man is a lovely, trustworthy guy who puts duty and responsibility right up there with his commitment to family and his retirement as chairman of the local regimental association will be huge loss because they can’t find anyone to replace him at the moment.”

He also paid tribute to Audrey for being such a strong support during Ken’s years with the branch.

Also among the guests were former district council chairman Michael Seymour, Lincolns and ex-service friends.

Branch president Lt Col Simon Bacon (retired) spoke warmly about Ken’s devotion to the Lincolns and presented him with a tantalus, brandy glasses and brandy, as well as a framed picture of a regimental drummer to express appreciation of his service.

There was also a Royal Doulton figurine for Audrey.

The branch will continue for the time being with informal meetings at the Lighthouse Church, which Ken will attend, and there’s still hope that someone can be found to take on the chairman’s role.

Coun Grocock says the original costing given for the memorial was £60,000 to £70,000 but that has now been fine tuned and it’s likely to be about £44,000. So far, there’s around £9,000 to £10,000 in the kitty but £5,000 is earmarked for removal of a water fountain to make way for the memorial.

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