MANSFIELD town centre came to a standstill on Saturday lunchtime as hundreds of shoppers lined the streets to salute the town’s military heroes - and Chad.co.uk can reveal that generous townsfolk donated £4,500 to Help For Heroes during the day.
The Parade for Mansfield’s Heroes - the first of what is hoped to be 200 similar events nationwide to raise £1m for Help For Heroes - included Sutton Marine Alexander Brewer (22), injured in Afghanistan earlier this year.
Alexander, from 42 Commando, had to have a below-knee amputation on his left leg after stepping on an improvised explosive device in May. Since then he has been receiving treatment at the Help for Heroes’ rehabilitation complex Headley Court in Surrey, where he has also undergone work to rebuild his other leg.
He was pushed in his wheelchair along the parade route, down West Gate and into the Market Place, by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire Col. Roger Merryweather TD, before they took the salute from the parade in front of the old Town Hall.
Shoppers and visitors applauded the parade throughout its route as they dug deep to fill collection buckets. The parade was headed by members of the Seaforth Highlanders Pipe and Drum Band, who led serving men from all three armed forces. The Royal Navy were represented by a cohort stationed at RAF Digby in Lincolnshire, the Royal Air Force sent men from RAF Scampton, Waddington, Halton, Henlow and Wittering and the Army were represented by soldiers from 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment.
Behind them came a host of ex-services personnel representing various associations including The Royal British Legion, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regimental Association The Grenadier Guards Association, The Royal Navy Association, The Merchant Navy Association, The RAF Association, The Queen’s Royal Lancers, The Royal Green Jackets Association, the SJAB and REME.
Crodws in the Market Place were also entertained before and during the event by the Rutland and Leicestershire Pipe & Drum band. And Forest Town girl Kirsty Cross (16) performed ‘Empty’, a song she has written and recorded about a grieving family in the aftermath of losing a loved one in conflict - a song written especially for the parade,
Graham Parker from Parker PR, the Mansfield PR & Marketing Agency organising the event, told the crowds in the Market Place: “You should all be proud, this is a very proud day for Mansfield.”
He later added: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the response and generosity of the people of Mansfield.
“Today proved that it is possible to hit the £1m target if we get enough places to stage parades.
“Politicians keep telling us we live in broken Britain; Mansfield proved them all wrong today with a fantastic display of pride and compassion.”
See next week’s Chad for a full report and photographs.