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Remembrance Day 2017: Veterans and schoolchildren commemorate modern and past soldiers at Elm Park service

PUBLISHED: 18:41 12 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:57 13 November 2017

The Haverettes All Girls Marching Band in action.

The Haverettes All Girls Marching Band in action.

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From veterans to Brownies and college students, well-wishers from all walks of life gathered in Elm Park this morning to honour soldiers of the past and present.

The march from Elm Park Royal British Legion to St Nicholas Church, where a Remembrance service took place.The march from Elm Park Royal British Legion to St Nicholas Church, where a Remembrance service took place.

Arranged by the Elm Park Royal British Legion, the commemoration began with a two-minute silence at the branch, in Maylands Avenue, followed by a parade to St Nicholas Church, Woodcote Avenue, where a service took place, led by Fr Tom Keighley and Rev Amanda Keighley.

The event was a real community effort, from the music performed by the Haverettes All Girls Marching Band and the release of balloons filled with poppy seeds by children, to the role of Barking and Dagenham College students in closing off the parade route to traffic.

The public played their part too, handing extra donations to fundraisers inside the church, and attending the legion auction which ended the day, and featured prizes from many local businesses.

Councillor Barry Mugglestone, chairman of the Elm Park Royal British Legion, told the Recorder: “I’m again so proud of the great work by the Elm Park Legion, we had great support from the Barking and Dagenham College students and all the children that attended.”

Members of the public filing into St Nicholas Church, Elm Park, for the Remembrance Sunday service.Members of the public filing into St Nicholas Church, Elm Park, for the Remembrance Sunday service.

“We had an excellent turnout,” added Councillor Stephanie Nunn. “What I liked particularly was the children seem to be getting more and more involved, it’s lovely.”

She also thanked all those who gave donations to the auction, with the community having been “really generous”.

Veteran and poppy seller Mick Mellor, 81, took part in the parade, one of many undeterred by the brisk weather: “It was a little bit cold, but at least it wasn’t raining.

“I have marched ever since I have done the poppies, I really enjoyed it. You feel as though you’re back in the army.”

RJ Mitchell and Benhurst pupils were among the children involved in the commemorations. Cameron Kennett, 10, from Benhurst Primary School, read at St Nicholas Church a poem of his own, simply entitled Remembrance Day.

He was a “little bit nervous” to read his homework project, but keen to play an active role in Remembrance because “people died and we need to remember them”.

His mum and dad, Elaine Cheadle and Clive Kennett, of Elm Park, were “very proud”.

“We always get quite a few youngsters [involved],” added Rev Amanda Keighley. “These youngsters do want to remember, they are interested.”

Veterans and others at Elm Park's Remembrance Sunday service, which began outside the Elm Park Royal British Legion.Veterans and others at Elm Park's Remembrance Sunday service, which began outside the Elm Park Royal British Legion.

“It’s fantastic,” said Fr Tom Keighley. “We were delighted with the service, it’s always great to have the British Legion in the church; the legion is a major part of this community.”

Thanks were also given to the Barking and Dagenham College students who contributed to the day, and the wider Poppy Appeal.

Steve Burge, head of the college’s uniform public services department, told the Recorder: “In the lead-up to Remembrance Sunday we’ve had approximately 25 students selling poppies in Tesco, in the Airfield Way and Rainham stores. We’ve been doing it for the last five years.

“These guys give up their own time to come along and support the Poppy Appeal and the British Legion, and have done a fantastic job.”

Cameron Kennett, 10, from Benhurst Primary School, read out at the service a Remembrance poem he had written. He is photographed at the Elm Park Royal British Legion, ahead of a fundraising auction.Cameron Kennett, 10, from Benhurst Primary School, read out at the service a Remembrance poem he had written. He is photographed at the Elm Park Royal British Legion, ahead of a fundraising auction.

Parade marshals and retired fire officers Gary Thornett, 55, and Trevor McKeever, 57, were proud to do their bit.

Trevor commended the “excellent service”, while Gary said: “It was an absolute honour for us to do it. We couldn’t have done it without all the help from the college students who closed the roads for us.”

The students themselves were pleased: Kamal Hassan, 21, called the appeal a “fantastic thing”, while Zain Asid, 16, added: “It’s really good to do, you feel peaceful when you go home – you get satisfaction from doing it.”

Parminder Singh, 65, whose father fought in the Second World War, summed up exactly why Remembrance is so important to many.

Wreath display outside Elm Park Royal British Legion.Wreath display outside Elm Park Royal British Legion.

“I feel very strongly that what the veterans have done for the country is tremendous. I think we owe it to them to pay our respects.”

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