Official wreaths during the service

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I WRITE to clarify any misconception over the article ‘Soldier’s mum disgusted with wreath decision’ (Gazette, November 2).

The Remembrance service involves closure of several roads and diversion of bus routes and traffic. This necessitates much work for council staff and police.

Therefore while the dignity and solemnity of the service is paramount, the disruption to traffic and public transport has to be kept to a minimum, so wreath-laying has to collective and restricted.

It has been clearly stated on the back of the order of service for many years now, that only official wreaths be laid during the service and individual wreaths are welcome afterwards.

The ex-service contingents therefore lay a collective wreath for their arm of service to remember comrades who have fallen or suffered in the service of their country.

Many veterans return after the service to lay their own personal tribute to their friends and colleagues.

Last year Mrs Payne contacted the Association and requested permission to lay a wreath on behalf of her son with the official party.

Very reluctantly we gave permission - mindful this precedent could open the floodgates to personal requests, which has subsequently materialised.

Following last year’s service we have received more than 20 further requests and the committee decided in order to keep the service manageable, we would revert to the former decision.

All other individuals concerned understood the reasoning and accepted the decision with good grace.

Since the article, my telephone hasn’t stopped ringing from delegates incandescent at both the tone of the article and Mrs Payne’s disparaging remark regarding ‘her son protecting our country and John Butler’.

They feel not only does this demean John and his record of service, but all other parading veterans protecting our country well before her son was born, all of whom are aggrieved by the remark.

All generations feel the loss of friends and comrades.

John’s reply only reflected the decision of the committee and delegates and was not a personal opinion nor as inferred, did it reflect any decision unilaterally made by the Royal Sussex Regimental Association.

Mrs Payne could approach her son’s Regimental Association to lay an official wreath on their behalf, in which case that association will be added to the official list of adult and youth organisations associated with the town.

As things stand, this is a personal wreath from her son to his comrades and will have to be laid after the official ceremony.

B.K.E. LANE

Chairman

Eastbourne Combined

Ex-Services Association