Young cadets marched with old soldiers and civic leaders to honour armed forces past, present and future.
A 50-strong contingent of army, air and sea cadets and veteran servicemen paraded through the streets of Staveley on Saturday, on course for Poolsbrook Country Park.
Wartime military and emergency vehicles brought up the rear of the poignant procession which launched a weekend of celebrations organised by Staveley Armed Forces and Veterans Association.
The Mayor of Chesterfield, Cllr Donald Parsons, said: “This is a very important day. It is Staveley’s way of honouring and showing respect for the past armed forces, the present forces and the boys and girls of the future.”
Cllr Barry Dyke, chairman of the town council, accompanied the mayor and mayoress on the parade. He said: “Staveley Town Council is proud and honoured to support this cause.
“It brings in a lot of people from outside Staveley, which helps local businesses and gives the people of Staveley a chance to show their support for the forces.”
Mum-of-two Emma Green, of Lime Avenue, Staveley, walked alongside the march, carrying her two-year-oid daughter Laura. She said: “ I enjoy the atmosphere and I feel very proud of them.”
Cllr Parsons officially opened the event and was escorted around the park by 13-year-old Connor Goulding in his capacity as the Mayor of Chesterfield’s cadet. Connor, who lives in Littlemoor, Chesterfield, was among a dozen sea cadets from T.S. Danae to be invited to take part in the parade for the first time. He said: “It is a great privilege and I feel proud to be with the Mayor of Chesterfield.”
The Chesterfield sea cadets unit, which celebrates its 75th anniversary next year, is a registered charity and receives just £1,000 from the Ministry of Defence towards paying bills and staging events.
Veteran serviceman John Wilson, 82, of Brimington, was among the hundreds of visitors to the Armed Forces Event. Rows of medals pinned to his chest highlighted his service as a ground crew member and his late brother’s bravery as an air crew officer in the RAF.
Older brother Kenneth was a 22-year-old Flying Officer in 78 Squadron Bomber Command when he lost his life during a raid on Hamburg during the Second World War.
John said: “There was no known grave for Kenneth. My mum and dad went to their graves not knowing what happened to my brother.
“Now that we are living in the computer age we can find out what really happened to our loved ones who were listed as having no known grave.
“Children nowadays know very little about the war. They watch things like Harry Potter when they should be learning how their freedom was delivered.”
Volunteers triumphed over the force of Mother Nature to stage the event which raised money for the health and well-being of armed service personnel and boosted the coffers of community organisations.
A few hardy stallholders pitched their tents in heavy downpours on Friday. Scout leader Kevin Silvers, from 1st Highfield Scouts in Chesterfield, said: “It wasn’t very good conditions but we managed it.”
The Scouts’ hook-a-duck stall, burger outlet, coconut shy and junior archery were aimed at raising money for 46 members of the troop to go to Denmark on July 20 for a jamboree involving 35,000 Scouts and Guides.
Students from Staveley’s Netherthorpe and Chesterfield’s Brookfield Community schools joined forces to run a home-made cake and pastry stall. It was their first big fundraiser towards sending 60 sixth-formers from the schools on a conservation trip to Mexico next summer. The students will be working in a rainforest assessing plants and assisting scientists for a week then visit a coral reef to help with a turtle-breeding project and learn how to dive.
Dave Arnold, biology teacher at Brookfield, said his school had participated in similar ventures in Honduras. He said: “It is amazing. The trip to Mexico is a way off at the moment but as we get nearer, the excitement will build.”
Ben the market horse was a casualty of the weather as the parkland was too soggy for his visit and a scheduled flypast by a Dakota warplane was grounded due to engine trouble.