FENLANDER: Service veterans honoured at Fenland Council’s badge presentation ceremony

FORTY-FOUR former members of the armed services were presented with their HM Armed Forces Veteran’s Badges at a moving and colourful ceremony in March last week.

They included Faith and Denis White from Wisbech St Mary, aged 89 and 91 respectively, who both served in the army during the Second World War, and 26-year-old Simon Keeble from Peterborough, who fought with the 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment in Afghanistan.

St Peter’s Church was packed for the occasion, organised by Fenland District Council to mark Armed Forces Day.

The badges were presented by Richard Barnwell, Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire.

Paying tribute to “the outstanding bravery and dedication of all our troops”, he told the assembled veterans: “The combined length of service of you all today is more than 350 years and we the civilian population will be forever in your debt for the sacrifices you have made.”

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He added: “We mustn’t forget the families of our veterans, spouses in particular, who go through enormous anxieties while their loved ones are on active service. I am so pleased to see so many families here today and we all commend the support you have given over many years.”

Mr and Mrs White had eight members of their family at the ceremony. Mrs White said: “Everything on the day was remarkable and we were treated so well. We felt proud of what we’d done and we were feted by everyone. We enjoyed every moment and so did our family.”

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Between them, the couple served in the 11th Hussars, the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and the Royal Artillery. They met during the war and have been married 66 years.

The church service also included a short address by the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Penelope Walkinshaw, as well as hymns and prayers led by the Rev Jenny Webb. It was followed by a buffet lunch in the church hall.

The event was hosted by Councillor Michael Humphrey, FDC’s Chairman, and his wife Marie. It also featured the Peterborough Highland Pipe Band.

Cllr Humphrey said: “The whole day went off tremendously well – almost like a military operation. It was all about honouring our armed forces and it was a fitting tribute to them.

“Marie and I were delighted to meet and chat with the veterans and their families during the lunch and we’ve had lots of appreciative comments from everyone involved.”

It was the third time that FDC has organised a Veteran’s Badge presentation ceremony. The badge was launched in 2004 to raise the profile of veterans among the general public.

It is awarded to anyone who has served in the armed forces, including volunteer and regular reserves.

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