Marching band return to accompany Remembrance Sunday service in Saffron Walden

A MARCHING band will accompany the Remembrance Sunday service in Saffron Walden for the first time in four years – thanks to the generosity of an ex-serviceman.

Martin-Dean Haynes, known locally as Benson, called in a favour to get 56 (Woolwich) Squadron ATC to lead the parade as a gift for the town.

Residents had previously criticised the fact that the town did not have a marching band to play at the service, calling it “disrespectful” to those who had lost their lives fighting for their country.

British Legion parade marshal Mick Birnie said it was something that he had been campaigning tirelessly for since the town’s Boys’ Brigade disbanded.

“I have tried everything to get one in recent years, from appearing on Radio Cambridgeshire to placing adverts in the local papers, but unfortunately I have not been able to find one to play,” Mr Birnie told the Reporter.

“We did get an offer from a band earlier this year but were told we would have to change the time of our service to noon because they were playing elsewhere at 11am.

“I said: ‘That is ridiculous. We cannot change the time – the band has to play from 11am, we cannot alter the service’.

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“It is a shame we no longer have a marching band in the town. We have a town band that is very good but they cannot march.

“But thankfully Benson has managed to arrange one from Woolwich Barracks for this year, which is great news.”

The band, led by Flt Lt Mark Bird, will line up at the War Memorial for a short service alongside veterans, soldiers from 101 Engineer Regiment, army cadets and other uniformed organisations.

Wreaths will be laid and a two-minute silence held at 11am.

The band will then lead the parade down the High Street towards St Mary’s Church.

After the church service, led by the Rev David Tomlinson, the parade will re-form and march back down the High Street and along King Street, before lining up for a final ceremony and salute in the market square

It will be the first time a band has serenaded the town since 2007.

In previous years the memorial service to remember those who have given their lives for their country was accompanied by music played from loud speakers.

And in 2008 the parade came in for criticism when onlookers described being serenaded by what they called “a man in a van”.

‘Benson’ said he wanted to dedicate the gesture to the people of Saffron Walden, and the troops of the 33 and 101 Royal Engineers Regiments.

“Remembrance Day brings the whole community together as one family – from top brass to the youngest child.

“For me, it is always a magical moment, and it gives us an opportunity to reflect on how lucky we all are to be alive and surrounded by good people,” he added.