North Devon charity organises Routes of Remembrance
- Credit: The Veterans Charity
A North Devon charity is organising a massive operation across the UK to honour the fallen in advance of Remembrance Day this year.
Routes of Remembrance is a poignant new initiative set up by The Veterans Charity, based in Barnstaple, which will see wreaths of tribute touring the country and even overseas.
It follows the huge success of the Poppies to Paddington event held last year in conjunction with Great Western Railway, which saw more than 200 wreaths make their way on trains to the station war memorial on the morning of Armistice Day, November 11.
A similar event is still taking place this year, but last year’s success has prompted the charity to create the new Routes of Remembrance campaign, which will take in the whole country and 11 train operators as well as ferry companies, airlines, veterans, businesses and private individuals.
Locally, veteran Dave Viner will be taking a wreath on the 6.25am train from Barnstaple to Paddington on November 11.
The scope of the event is truly staggering and it has expanded beyond the wildest dreams of organisers, with wreaths crossing and re-crossing the UK by sea, air and land* to converge on London and other war memorials.
*See the notes below for more details on specific tours
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Danny Greeno, CEO of The Veterans Charity, said they had built on the success of last year to create something unique.
He said: “The way this has snowballed is amazing and it has really taken on a life of its own – it’s going to be huge.
“We have wreaths touring all over the country and we’ve had a brilliant response from numerous transport companies, for which we’re deeply grateful.
“Absolutely anyone can join in and take a wreath on a tour, long or short, by train or even on foot – we’d love as many people to get involved as possible.
“The pandemic hasn’t gone away yet, so this is for the veterans, who can see that Remembrance is happening in a very unique way, plus it celebrates the deep links between the railways and the military.”
Iain Henderson, co-organiser and a trustee of The Veterans Charity, added: “Last year thanks to the wonderful support of GWR and their team, The Veterans Charity was able to keep remembrance on track though the Covid pandemic.
“This year we have been engaging with more transport companies to continue to keep remembrance ‘moving’ in 2021.”
Iain created the original event in 2020 after speaking to an elderly veteran who was very distressed at the loss of an entire year of remembrance events due to pandemic lockdowns and restrictions.
The Veterans Charity is keen for people to get involved by holding their own events to take a wreath on a long or short tour, whether on November 11 or before.
They can take the train, travel by car, walk or cycle to transport a wreath or tribute along a historically significant military route, to a poignant memorial or even tour between memorials in their local area, whatever has significance to them.
Schoolchildren could take a wreath on a short journey to their local memorial, or those who want to go further afield could cycle with a wreath between all the memorials in their district – there is no limit to what they can do.
Train operators taking part include Govia Thameslink Railway, which is calling on support from ex-military personnel that now work for the operator and highlighting destinations of importance on its network.
Avanti West Coast is planning to transport poppy wreaths to London Euston on five or six trains across Wednesday and Thursday, November 10 and 11. The wreaths will be laid at the Euston memorial, as part of Network Rail’s Remembrance Service on November 11.
London Northwestern Railway is hoping to hold events at Nuneaton, Northampton and Milton Keynes on the morning of November 11 with wreaths transported to Euston to form part of Network Rail’s Remembrance ceremony.
A wreath is currently touring the Falkland Islands with Tracey Robinson, a serving member of the Royal Air Force, including visits to the memorials for the Battle of Goose Green and the RFA Sir Tristram.
It will be travelling to South Georgia and eventually flown back to RAF Brize Norton and toured among RAF squadrons in the UK before travelling to Paddington.
While another, ‘the first of the many’ is being taken around the entire UK including Northern Ireland, before being escorted to London.
It is hoped one of the famous Dunkirk ‘Little Ships’ will carry it up the Thames to be moored next to HMS Belfast, which is marking its 50th anniversary on the Thames.
It will be presented to the Beefeaters at the Tower of London and finally rest at the Merchant Navy Memorial.
A wreath has also toured Normandy, including the famous Pegasus Bridge, with Danny Greeno. It was fundraising for the Pegasus memorial which prompted the creation of The Veterans Charity more than 10 years ago.
Other wreaths are going to Cyprus, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Cornwall and East Yorkshire, to name just a few.
As many people as possible are invited to get involved with Routes of Remembrance and stage their own challenge to raise money and awareness for the charity.
The opportunities are endless but examples include walking, cycling or running between two poignant locations with a Veterans Charity poppy wreath or roundel, which can be provided at cost.
Or people might get together with friends and family and walk or cycle a popular route associated with the railways or military history.
Or ask your school to get involved in sponsored activities such as sports days, silences or creating artwork in return for donations.
All manner of volunteers and organisers will also be needed throughout Routes of Remembrance at stations and other locations around the country.
To find out more about the event and how you could get involved, go: to https://www.veteranscharity.org.uk/remembrance