Tuesday, 24 November 2020 02:54

Call for volunteers to help save Wiltshire Armed Forces and Veterans Celebration event ends in failure Featured

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THE Wiltshire Armed Forces and Veterans Celebrations will not take place in Trowbridge next year after a call for volunteers to take on the running of the two-day event ended in failure.

Cllr Geoff Whiffen, who made the call in September, said this week: "I think it had just died. No-one has come forward.

"Nobody has got the time to do it. It's a shame, it really is. I just can't see it happening now. I am going to see if the town council can do something but it will be on a much lower key.

"I think it's because everyone is working. They just don't have the time. As you get closer to the event, it takes days and days to put it together. It is a 24-hour thing.

"I am honestly very sorry. I'm too old to do anything like that now. It needs a much younger person with enthusiasm and drive."

In September, Cllr Whiffen urged Trowbridge Town Council's policy and resources committee to support the event and called for volunteers to help organise it.

This year’s event, which was due to take place on June 27 and 28, was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisers posted a message on the WAFVC website saying: "It is with regret that the committee have decided to cancel 2020 event due to coronavirus emergency and following the Government guidelines which are now in place.

"We are a small committee which pride ourselves in running one of the top 10 armed forces weekends in the country. All we can do at the moment is to see what happens next and to start planning for 2021."

Next year's event will now not take place unless volunteers can be found to help organise and run it. They are being offered a £7,000 grant from Trowbridge Town Council towards the £20,000 cost of running a two-day event.

Since it began in 2004, the event has been organised by Maryrose Mantle. It grew from a one-day event to a two-day event in Trowbridge town park.

The last time it was held in 2019, the celebrations attracted more than 10,000 visitors despite a national armed forces event taking place in Salisbury.

Earlier this year Mrs Mantle announced that she had decided to step down to spend more time with her family and WAFVC vice-chairman Rob Blackmore has also resigned.

Because no-one stepped forward to take on the roles of chairman and vice-chairman, the committee disbanded and the WAFVC was wound up.

The event features activities and reenactment groups on Saturday. On Sunday, there is a service and a traditional armed forces parade through the town.

Read this article on the Gazette and Herald here...

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