Future of Wakefield's Remembrance Day services in jeopardy?

Fears are growing that next week's Remembrance Day parade could be Wakefield's last as Royal British Legion organisers dwindle, although one councillor is determined it will continue.

Friday, 4th November 2016, 9:49 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:01 pm

With numbers plummeting due to the ageing membership of the city’s Legion branch, the remaining active members say it could fold unless new recruits are quickly found.

The concerns are now casting a shadow over the future of the city’s Remembrance parades and services.

Thousands of people are expected to line the streets and pay their respects next weekend at the annual parade.

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Chairman of the City of Wakefield branch, Graham Beynon-Fisher, is well aware of the importance of such events having lost his own son in 2009.

Cpl Jonathan Beynon-Fisher was 33-year-old was with his unit when he fell to his death while climbing in the Lake District.

Graham said: “It’s very important, If we did not have them how would the young people and children understand what has happened in the past?

“I have lived in Wakefield for 40 years and there have been a lot of men lost.

“It’s a council event, but the Legion organises it - I don’t know what would happen but with the council cutting back, there may not be Remembrance services anymore, and that would be a shame.”

But Coun Sandra Pickin, the Armed Forces champion for the district, is adamant that the tradition will continue.

She said: “It won’t go, there’s no way on earth I will let it leave Wakefield.

“It’s a very big service and there’s usually thousands of people there for it, so I won’t allow it to fail.”

Coun David Dagger, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for corporate services, added: “I can confirm there are no plans to bring this proud tradition to an end.

“The Remembrance Parade follows on from the ceremony and involves dozens of organisations.”

Meanwhile, Mr Beynon-Fisher is calling on people to join the Legion to ensure it has a future.

He said: “Most of our members are in their 80s or even early 90s, so there’s only six of us who can get to the meetings. There are a lot more ex servicemen needing help than ever before and it would be a loss if it folded.”

Meeting just once every two months, anyone interested is welcome to join, regardless of any military background.

Contact Mr Beynon-Fisher on 07989 500408.