Full Remembrance service back as poppy sellers also set to return

Full Remembrance service back as poppy sellers also set to return

Last year a socially distanced and scaled back service of remembrance took place in the town due to the Covid pandemic (see right picture).

In previous years, the service has seen more than a thousand residents pay their respects alongside the war memorial in front of the Town Hall.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council says the service of remembrance, which will take place on Sunday, November 14, will be back to normal for 2021.

A spokesperson for the Council said: “This year there will be a parade at the War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday. The format of the event will return to how it was before the pandemic and unlike last year we do not envisage having to restrict public attendance.”

It comes as RBL is celebrating its centenary, having been formed in 1921 before becoming the largest Armed Forces charity with 180,000 members, including 110,000 volunteers.

Speaking to the Times John Cohen, who chairs the Tunbridge Wells RBL said: “We didn’t operate during lockdowns and Covid because we were restricted to a limited amount of people and because of restrictions.

“Instead, I took it upon myself to write newsletters to our members via email to keep in touch.

“We had to live stream last year’s Remembrance Day because we were only allowed no more than 30 people into the venue compared to where we can get up to a thousand people pre Covid and hopefully we would like to have that many people this time around.

“I look forward to full representation and a return to normality.”

This year, organisers expect to see a full turnout of ex and current forces members, MPs, the Mayor as well as the general public.

Poppy sellers will also return to the streets, thanks to a new influx of volunteers.

In 2019, the Times reported how the RBL was struggling to recruit volunteers in the Borough to help with the poppy appeal and organise events.

But this year it has seen an improved number of local people that have come forward to help the charity.

Phil Danton, Chief Fundraiser at the RBL in West Kent said: “As with all charities the never-ending task of enlisting new volunteers is an ongoing one and every year people stop being able to help, but new volunteers emerge to swell our numbers.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the poppy appeal and their enthusiasm is sometimes breath taking, with the hours they put in and the work they carry out.”

He added: “The preparation for the collection this year is gathering full pace and we have already planned to have multiple manned stalls in places around Tunbridge Wells.

“We hope to be covering all the major supermarkets with static manned stalls and have a presence at the main train station. There will be other collecting opportunities throughout the main collection period October 28 through until November 14.

“We are pretty confident that should anyone need any Poppies or want to donate to the charity, then they should easily find an opportunity to do so.”

The service of Remembrance and Parade takes place on November 14 at the War Memorial in Tunbridge Wells at 10.45am.

John Cohen, RBL chair, said: “After the Service there will be a March Past by the military and cadet units plus civilian groups, with the mayor Cllr Chris Woodward taking the salute on the steps of the Town Hall.

“The Tunbridge Wells Salvation Army Band will play before, during and after the Service. The Tunbridge Wells Sea Cadets Band will play as the Parade marches past the mayor.

“The Royal Tunbridge Wells Orpheus Male Voice Choir will support the hymn singing during the service and sing two pieces without accompaniment while the wreaths are being laid.”

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