It is always a time for reflection, but this year’s Armed Services Day parade in Todmorden was particularly poignant.
In the weeks since army Drummer Lee Rigby was killed in London, townspeople have raised almost £1,500 towards a trust fund being set up for his son Jack.
To say thank you to Todmorden, Drummer Rigby’s wife Rebecca was on hand to receive the money on behalf of Jack.
Welcoming people to the informal event and barbecue after a short parade through Todmorden town centre, British Legion branch chairman Mr Bill Birch said the day was not about war but rather people who had made individual sacrifices, like his own father who landed on Sword beach in the D-Day invasion in the second world war.
He welcomed Rebecca, Jack and members of their family, who are from Halifax, and was sorry it was in such saddening circumstances.
Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Kate Moreton-Deakin said service people made the choice to risk their lives and Drummer Rigby had been through what would have thought to have been the greatest risk when he served in Afghanistan.
“No amount of money will ever replace Jack’s father in his life but hopefully this will help,” she said.
Rebecca was too upset to speak publicly at the event but Legion spokesman Darren Widdup said she had told him the family were overwhelmed by people in Todmorden’s generosity.
Included in the money presented was £500 raised from the carnival and £200 given by staff at engineers Volker Stevin, who are working on the flood alleviation scheme in Todmorden and raise money for charity through Tommy Monks’ weekly soup lunch.
Mr Widdup said the special fundraising stall which had been organised by Belle Riley had boosted the total with a great effort. “The work done by Belle and people will now be going into a trust fund for Jack. We thank everyone who has donated,” he said.
Earlier piper Dean Chadderton, of Oldham, had led a parade of veterans, civic leaders, other organisations and members of the public, and all were invited to enjoy an informal free afternoon barbecue and social event at the United Services Club in White Hart Fold. Service veterans from the upper Calder Valley, including some who had served in the Korean War, were in this year’s parade, and they included a “Canadian contingent”.
Mr John Tolley, of Hebden Bridge, served for 36 years in the Canadian Army and last year was among those awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Mayor of Todmorden Coun Jayne Booth said the event was an important one. “I think it’s really important that the town supports events that are about remembrance and people who have given their lives for their country. It is one of the most moving occasions we have,” she said.