Harold Payne

Veterans supporter brands parish council ‘disgrace’ following Remembrance parade’s cancellation

A Fleet Hargate man who has supported veterans in the area branded Holbeach Parish Council a disgrace for cancelling part of the town’s Remembrance Sunday event.

For the last five years Harold Payne has toured war memorials in South Holland villages using military vehicles, timing it so he got to Holbeach at the same time as the parade.

The parish council has been responsible for closing roads for the parade since 2018 but has said this year it cannot go ahead after too few volunteers came forward to marshal the route.

A Royal British Legion service is still due to take place at the town’s war memorial.

But Harold has said he will still drive around the town with his vintage vehicles including his DUWK and has invited others to walk alongside the vehicles.

At Holbeach Parish Council’s meeting on Monday he used the public forum to deliver a speech.

“For me it’s an insult to my 30 years of work in my town,” he said.

“In that time I’ve had the privilege for speaking about our town all over the world.

“This morning at 8am I had a veteran ring from Australia as they’d seen online that I could not come through our town with my young lads and our veterans.

“In our 30 years I’ve lost over 3,500 veterans. I’ve lost four in the last three months who I was proud to serve.

“It’s a disgrace we cannot walk through our town with the last veterans. I know from experience in the next year, or even the next few months, we’ll have no veterans left.

“I think it’s a shame that we haven’t got the guts to let our veterans walk through our town on what could well be their final Remembrance Day.

“I’m disgusted and amazed you could not find the time and the effort for my soldiers who gave their lives for their country, especially our local boys.

“I feel it’s a shame and a disgrace at what you’ve done for our town and as long as I live I shall not forgive you.”

Speaking in response, but after Mr Payne had left the meeting, the secretary of events for the Royal British Legion’s Holbeach branch Elizabeth Davies-Chapman said: “We are having a parade this year, it’s a static parade. That’s because of the constraints that have been put around us.

“The act of remembrance is to remember all service personnel who lost their lives or who have been injured, not just our veterans and heroes but anybody who’s been affected by an act of tyranny or as a result of an act of terrorism.”

Speaking after the meeting Mr Payne said: “One councillor walked out in disgust and another was crying her eyes out.

“The council have said they couldn’t get volunteers but I’ve seen a list of volunteer names put forward.”

Parish council chairman Stephen Johnson said the decision was taken “with great sadness” after the required 20 volunteers were not found.

“This is an instance where we have exhausted every possible solution and agreed to a plan B for this year only,” he said.

Leave a Reply