THIS year’s Poppy Appeal has so far raised £22,394.18 and with some collections still to be counted, organisers are hopeful the total will once again be record-breaking.
Organisers have thanked the public for their generosity and support towards the Poppy Appeal which helps servicemen and women affected by past and current conflicts.
Over 500 people attended Melksham’s Remembrance Day parade and service in November; however, the parade was disrupted by a group of ex-serviceman who organisers say were ‘beyond drunk’.
In a letter to Melksham Town Council, Parade Commander, Flight Lieutenant Gregory McKay wrote, “On the return parade, once approaching and passing dais, the contingent of ex-servicemen began to actively disrupt the parade with errant ‘timings’ calls, aggressive and loud shouting and then swearing. Even from my position 50 paces in front I was able to hear this all too clearly.
“As a result I initially called out ‘Parade’ in order to make them aware they could be easily heard, but to no avail. I was therefore left with no choice but to halt the parade, march back and quietly address the contingent of ex-servicemen. After which their behaviour was acceptable, for the remaining 400 metres.
“On dismissing the parade, one ex-serviceman approached myself at speed and proceeded to verbally abuse me whilst standing less than one inch from my face. This individual would not stand down and it was only when some of his colleagues pulled him away that he left. The alcohol on his breath was quite clearly evident and by his exceptionally aggressive demeanour it was obvious he had consumed far too much alcohol that day.”
Ken Graham, ex-serviceman, member of the Royal British Legion and organiser of Melksham’s Poppy Appeal said, “When I heard what had happened at the parade, I was furious. These men are not welcome next year. We do not want you to be part of the parade of service – you are disrespectful and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
It was suggested that the parade and service move to earlier in the day but councillors felt that this wouldn’t help and decided to write to Melksham Police to request a police presence at next year’s Remembrance Day parade.
Councillor John Hubbard said, “This is a matter for the constabulary, changing the time of the parade will make no difference. If anyone is drunk and disorderly in public, it is a criminal offence and they should be arrested.”