Eastbourne war veterans’ association shuts due to dwindling numbers

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War veterans in Eastbourne have been forced to close their association as their membership numbers have dwindled in recent years.

The Eastbourne Combined Ex-Services Association held its final AGM at the RAFA Club in Wish Road recently and closed saying “the critical mass necessary for its continued existence has now come to pass”.

The association co-ordinates the activities of some 25 ex-services in Eastbourne and organises among other events the Service of Remembrance Parade and Festival of Remembrance each Remembrance Sunday and arranges the attendance of Standard Bearers and branches in general throughout the year for individual parades and services.

Association chairman Barry Lane said it was a sad time brought on by the fact that so many military associations are now closing.

“This ends many decades of support to the town in arranging the Armed Forces Day and the town’s annual Remembrance service at the War Memorial,” said Mr Lane.

“As long as there are associations and standards in existence, the members will continue to support the council on Remembrance Sunday by parading.

“However this too is time limited and other arrangements must be developed.

“I wish to thank particularly the people of Eastbourne who have turned out in such numbers for the annual Remembrance Parade – in spite of difficulties with the sound system in a couple of years – and hope they continue to support the council by continuing to attend in the years to come.

“In fine military tradition, port was poured and a final toast to the associations was given as, like all good old forces service people they fade away.”

Mr Lane said the association’s coffers would be given to remaining associations for their benevolence work.

Peter Finnis at Eastbourne Borough Council said, “The council wishes to express sincere gratitude to the Eastbourne Combined Ex-Services Association for its outstanding contribution to the town over many years.

“In particular, the council has worked in partnership with the association with regard to Armed Forces Day and the annual Remembrance Sunday service, ensuring these events maintained the appropriate gravitas deserving of such occasions.

“It has always been an absolute pleasure to work with the association, and especially with the chairman, Barry Lane.”