Councillor reflects on ‘poignant and special’ national remembrance service at the Cenotaph

Councillor Michael Clarke (second from left), pictured with Tom Fox, who served with the Royal Green

Councillor Michael Clarke (second from left), pictured with Tom Fox, who served with the Royal Green Jackets, BBC presenter Sophie Raworth and Pasan Kularatne of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League. - Credit: Contributed

A Torridge district councillor and veteran has reflected on a ‘poignant and special’ national remembrance service at the Cenotaph on Sunday (November 8).

Cllr Michael Clarke was one of less than 30 veterans to attend the event in London.

In other years, Whitehall is usually packed with thousands of veterans and military, with thousands more watching on, but this year the coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown meant the event was closed to the public.

Cllr Clarke represented Torridge District Council as Armed Forces Covenant Champion and as North Devon Secretary of the Merchant Navy Association.

Cllr Clarke said: “I still feel humbled to have been part of something so poignant and special.

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“A silent and atmospheric London proved a powerful reminder to those who paid the ultimate price. 10,000 veterans usually march past the Cenotaph, but this year only 26 of us represented the Armed Forces Community.

“I did miss my good mates who I usually catch up with at the Horse Guards Parade, so I felt that this year, I was there for them. I wish them and all veterans well.”

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Cllr Clarke joined the Merchant Navy as a catering boy in 1966 at the age of 15, and worked his way up through the ranks to become a restaurant manager, chef, and bar manager.

He has continued to be involved in naval activities as Commanding Officer of Bideford and District Sea Cadets, and as a Royal Naval Reservist.

He is a regular attendee at the parade, and was honoured to be asked to be Parade Marshall for the association members in 2019.

Sunday’s service saw the Queen, dressed in a black hat and coat, look on from a balcony with Lady-in-Waiting Susan Rhodes at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office building, as Charles laid a wreath on her behalf.

The Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Cornwall looked on from a separate balcony, while the Countess of Wessex and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence were on a third balcony.

Boris Johnson was joined by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and former prime ministers Sir John Major, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Theresa May.

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