Members of the Pocklington branch of The Royal British Legion joined thousands of Armed Forces veterans and supporters from across the UK and worldwide in a pilgrimage of remembrance to some of WW1’s most poignant sites.
A spectacular two-mile march through Ypres to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Menin Gate Memorial, led by 1,100 Standard Bearers, was the culmination of the three-day event which saw the 2,200 participants visit the WW1 trenches, battlefields and cemeteries of France and Belgium.
Mark Abel and Kevin Warcup attended the Great Pilgrimage 90 as representatives of the Pocklington branch, as a Standard Bearer and wreath layer respectively.
Kevin Warcup, chairman of the Pocklington branch, said: “Being part of such an historic event, representing the Pocklington branch in commemorating those that lost their lives in the First World War, was an honour and something I will never forget.
“The Great Pilgrimage was one of the most moving events I have ever been involved in, the amount of standards on parade was a sight to see and the noise of the two thousand five hundred people marching through Ypres was also a very moving sound.
“Some bystanders told me afterwards that they closed their eyes and imagined the Tommies marching to the front. After the parade Mark Abel and I spoke on the coach when leaving Ypres to return to our hotel and we both agreed that we have to keep the branch going at all costs.
“We have to first make the centenary of the Royal British Legion which is in 2021 and then the centenary of the Pocklington Branch in 2023.
“The branch needs younger people that are willing to get involved and that are willing to carry the Branch forward.
“I know we have a lot of ex servicemen and women in the Pocklington area and it is time for them to change the branch for the better.
“We are asking fellow veterans and serving forces personnel and members of the public to come forward and help us make the Pocklington branch into one we can all be proud of.
“Without these people coming forward it makes it more inevitable that the branch might close and I am sure none of us want that.”
Bob Gamble, The Royal British Legion’s Head of Commemorative Events, said: “GP90, was the Legion’s biggest membership event in modern history and is a suitable tribute from the members of The Royal British Legion in honour of the First World War generation, echoing the way the British Legion community commemorated the 10th anniversary of the conflict in 1928.”
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