Eastbourne soldier’s mum disgusted with wreath decision

Donna and Rod Payne at the Eastbourne War Memorial
Donna and Rod Payne at the Eastbourne War Memorial

THE MOTHER of a soldier injured in Afghanistan says she is disgusted she’s been denied the opportunity to lay a wreath on Remembrance Sunday.

Donna Payne wants to pay her respects to the 2nd Battalion the Rifle which her son Chris Howard serves with.

The 23-year-old lost a leg and part of his hand in 2009 while on foot patrol in Sangin.

Mrs Payne, who set up funeral directors Payne & Sons with Chris in August last year, said she was able to lay the wreath as part of the official ceremony with her husband Rod last year but this year they were refused.

She says she was told she could lay a wreath after the official ceremony.

Mrs Payne, who spoke to John Butler, a member of the Eastbourne Combined Ex-Service Association and the Royal Sussex Regiment Association, said, “It was fine last year.

“I’m absolutely gutted. It’s absolutely disgusted me.

“Chris was a sniper and spent five months in Afghanistan protecting our country and John Butler.”

Her son nearly died twice after his horrific injuries but surprised doctors with his determination and has since learnt to walk with a prosthetic leg.

Mrs Payne said her son was also upset by the dispute and that she was told because she is not part of an affiliated company she cannot lay the wreath during the official ceremony.

Mr Butler, parade marshal for the Eastbourne event, said even if she was part of an affiliated company it might not be Mrs Payne who laid the wreath and instead a representative or president of that group on behalf of the organisation.

He added, “There are hundreds of people who have relations who served in World War Two, the Falklands, Korea, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq and so on, if every one of these was to lay a wreath in the same principle as Mrs Payne we’d be there until 6pm.

“I can well understand her being upset but if we let one in we have to let hundreds of people in.

“There’s no restriction on people laying a wreath afterwards, anyone can and we welcome anyone who wants to do this.”