A WAR veteran has thanked businesses and organisations who helped raise thousands of pounds to allow him and a large group of people mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.
Noel Wilkes, President of the Evesham Royal British Legion told the Observer attending the occasion on Friday (June 6) was one of the most special moments of his life.
Joining Mr Wilkes on the trip included two Normandy veterans, other Second World War veterans, seven Standard Bearers, members of Evesham Royal British Legion, Revd Canon Peter Burch, a musician, six air cadets, ten sea cadets and eight army cadets as they remembered one of the most significant events of the Second World War
The trip appeared to be in doubt after the Legion applied for a grant from the National Lottery Awards For All scheme but were told the scheme no longer assisted for that kind of activity.
This was despite receiving a grant from the organisation in 2009 when they marked the 65th anniversary of the famous event.
But the disappointment sparked branch members into action and they launched a fund-raising appeal of £10,000 to help cover the costs of the special trip.
Mr Wilkes, aged 90, said: “It was a fantastic success, everyone at the legion is so grateful for all who helped make donations.
“It was a very special moment and the highlight was seeing everyone there. I shed a tear as the anniversary means a lot to me.
“I was pleased to have been fit enough to make this major anniversary of the Landings because the Normandy Veterans Association predict this will be the last major event to take place with the attendance of the men who actually took part in 1945.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all businesses, organisations and individuals who helped us, with their donations to achieve this 70th Anniversary Tour of the Normandy Beaches and the cemeteries.
“The money raised helped pay a large amount of the cost for the various cadet units who we were very proud to have the company of, and many of these have expressed their most grateful thanks to have the opportunity to go on this tour.”