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Fleet veteran campaigner vows that Holbeach Remembrance Parade will not be stopped

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A veteran’s champion has vowed that Remembrance Parades will never stop while he is alive.

Harold Payne was supported by more than 60 people when he called a public meeting on Sunday to discuss ‘Holbeach’s People’s Parade’, which will be led by a 100-year-old veteran and will march to the town’s war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

Mr Payne organised the unofficial parade on Sunday, November 14, after Holbeach Parish Council cancelled this year’s marching parade due to problems with marshals and training. A static service will be held instead.

Residents attend a public meeting at the Anglia Motel in Fleet to discuss the area's Remembrance Parade (52596302)
Residents attend a public meeting at the Anglia Motel in Fleet to discuss the area's Remembrance Parade (52596302)

Speaking at the Anglia Motel on Sunday, an emotional Mr Payne said: “Thousands of men lost their lives for our freedom and our freedom of speech. Cancelling this parade is the thin edge of the wedge. While I am alive they will never bloody stop it.”

During the meeting, Mr Payne highlighted the importance of maintaining a Remembrance Day Parade and played a recording of an interview with veteran Ernie Covill, who died earlier this year.

Visitor Johnathan Johns, who had last week presented Harold with a plaque from the American military groups, also spoke during the meeting and was presented with a union jack from Ernie’s funeral to take back to America.

Tony Topliss, chairman of the local Royal Observer Corps, told the meeting that they will be parading their standard.

He said: “We were disgusted that is not going to be a parade.”

Nuclear test veteran Douglas Hern, whose family has served in the Royal Navy since sailors wore straw boaters, also spoke out.

Mr Hern, who witnessed five tests on Christmas Island while in the Royal Navy in the 1950s, said: “I think it is disgraceful that the parish council in this area has taken the attitude they have over something that means so much to so many.

“Without this ceremony, the younger generation will never appreciate what was done for them in the past.”

Former parish councillor Carol Rudkin said: “We need to remember those people who lost their lives to save us.”

Calls were also made for vehicles to stay away from Holbeach at the time of the parade.

Mr Payne, who will be laying flowers at war memorials across the area on November 14, said people should muster at the former council depot at Fleet Road at 10.15am.

The parade will leave at 10.30am to reach the memorial at 11am.

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