AN estimated 900 people gathered at Stalybridge War Memorial for the Stalybridge Remembrance Day service.
Frank Smith, secretary of the Stalybridge and Dukinfield branch of the Royal British Legion, was delighted with the size of the turnout.
“We printed 650 order of service programmes and we didn’t have enough for everybody,” he explained.
Frank added: “It is amazing how many local people turn out and also ex forces personnel who aren’t members of the RBL.
“We had visitors from outside the area including a former Army man from Canada who was visiting family. He joined our parade in Dukinfield”
And there was a sizeable contingent of children, a feature of recent years.
Frank continued: “The older are getting fewer each year which is why we have concentrated for the last few years on getting the young involved which is essential in ensuring it remains well supported.
“Every school in Stalybridge supported the Poppy Appeal and more than ever took part in the parade and laid wreaths.”
Frank also praised the pupils from West Hill School who were stewards for the day and Frank said they did a “grand job”.
The parade assembled at Armentieres Square and was led off by Stalybridge Old Band and followed by Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, and Cllr Jan Jackson, Stalybridge Town Council leader, who were both carrying wreaths.
It went along Trinity Street before heading down Melbourne Street to the War Memorial.
The presiding minister was the retired Rev Eddie Inglis, formerly of Dukinfield Methodist Church. He stood in for the unwell Rev Karen Hilsden, from Stalybridge Methodists.
The service followed the
format for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland with the Last Post followed by two-minute silence.
That was followed by the wreath laying led by Cllr Eleanor Ballagher on behalf of the Mayor of Tameside.
Next were Mr Reynolds, Cllrs Jackson, Cllr Doreen Dickinson, Cllr Kevin Welsh and then Chief Technician Gordon Gillies, from RAF Waddington, on behalf of the regular armed forces.
Graham Fordy represented the Royal British Legion, Parachute Regiment Association member Glynn Edwards the Armed Forces and Veterans Association.
Also laying wreaths were the National Association of Retired Police officers; Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force Association, Stalybridge Old Band, Stalybridge Town Team, Stalybridge labour Club and Ridge Hill Big Local Enterprise.
There were also uniformed civilian services, uniformed voluntary services, cadets, uniformed youth organisations, 13 Stalybridge schools and the public were led by Sean Dawson whose son Kingsman Phillip Dawson was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
It is not yet known how much the Poppy Appeal raised – last year the figure was £34,000 for Stalybridge and Dukinfield.
Frank added this year they were not allowed in supermarkets as early as in previous ones and that might impact on the proceeds.
• There was one complaint, however, from Royal Navy veteran Dennis Rogerson, from Greenfield, who described the marshalling and organisation of the parade as “very poor”.
Frank replied by saying it is challenging at the War Memorial because of the numbers, especially as many of the children are accompanied by parents which makes it a “squeeze”.