Join service veterans at parade and social event

Piper Ed Arnold  leading last year's parade
Piper Ed Arnold leading last year's parade

Townspeople are invited to show their respect for service veterans at this year’s Armed Forces Day parade in Todmorden on Sunday.

Poignantly, members of Drummer Lee Rigby’s family are to attend the event to receive money raised in the town for a trust fund set up for his son, Jack.

Drummer Rigby was killed in Woolwich, London, in May and his wife’s family are from Halifax.

Friends from the Todmorden branch of Rochdale Mystery Tours scooter club who know his father-in-law Paul Metcalfe, a scooter club member, raised money at Todmorden Carnival, where they were riding in the parade, and a stall was subsequently held on Todmorden Market to raise money for Jack.

British Legion spokesman Darren Widdup said representatives of the family would attend the event to receive the money which had been raised to be put in trust for Jack.

Everyone was invited to the event, which will see a short parade through the town centre to be followed by an informal barbecue at the United Services Club in White Hart Fold. The parade will leave Stansfield Road at around 11.30am on Sunday, June 30, and anyone wishing to take part should ensure they are there by 11.15am.

Like last year, the parade will be led by a piper as it makes the short journey along Rochdale Road past Todmorden Market, turning up to White Hart Fold for the social event at the club.

Ever since the first event was held several years ago a welcome has been extended to the town and young people are among those invited to come along and chat to veterans about their experiences.

Occasionally displays have been held at the gatherings, and former servicemen and women have spoken about what their roles were really like. Fewer in number now than when the events first began in 2005, marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the second world war, veterans of that conflict have often attended the events.

The Legion is preparing to mark the outbreak of the other major conflict of the last century, the first world, or Great War, next year.

They have already unveiled plans to recreate the march made by Todmorden’s Territorial Army companies of the 6th Lancashire Fusiliers to Rochdale on August 6, 1914, just two days after the outbreak of the Great War.

They went on to see action in Gallipoli, where many lost their lives or were wounded, and on the Western Front.

The harrowing reality of their war has been recently featured in the book The Gallipoli Oak, by Martin Purdy and Ian Dawson.

The book refers to a tree planted by the parents of a young officer who died there and Todmorden British Legion is in contact with Middleton and Rochdale British Legion branches over restaging the march, with young volunteers following in the foosteps of their ancestors a century ago.