After the bitter rows, hard work finally pays off for Dersingham war memorial trio
06:30 16 January 2014
Archant © 2014
A dedicated team of volunteers has been awarded a prestigious prize for their tireless efforts in looking after a Norfolk war memorial.
Kurtis Ross-Green, John Houston and Valerie Brundle were given the Coltishall Cup, which is awarded by the Royal British Legion (RBL) to the branch which has the best kept memorial in the county. General Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the British Army, assisted with the presentation.
Major Bill Kerr, RBL Norfolk county chairman, said the Dersingham and Sandringham RBL Branch volunteers – who call themselves the Memorial Three – won the prize because of the hours of effort they have put in to renovate the site and keep it tidy.
However it has not all been easy for the trio, who got into a series of bitter recriminations with Dersingham Parish Council after claims Mr Ross-Green was not authorised to carry out improvement work to the memorial.
It ended up with Mr Ross-Green being reported to the police, although the matter was later resolved by a “community resolution” with no formal criminal action taken.
Mr Ross-Green said: “We are really glad and proud that we won it. We worked hard for it and our hard work has paid off.
“It is something to say that people do care and appreciate what we have done.”
He added that they were shocked but delighted to receive the trophy, which was presented to them at the RBL Norfolk county conference.
Kate Williams, RBL area manager for East Anglia, said: “Particularly during this centenary year, it’s heartening to know that branches are continuing to assist local authorities with the upkeep of war memorials, remembering and honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
“I congratulate Dersingham and Sandringham Branch for their sheer dedication and thank them for all they do to keep their community at the heart of the legion.”
Major Kerr added: “Those names on the memorial should mean something, and they obviously do to this branch.”
Mr Ross-Green started to tend the war memorial opposite his home in Hunstanton Road, Dersingham, when he was just nine years old.
He won a Norfolk Young People of the Year award for helping to bring about the memorial’s £20,000 renovation and was even congratulated for his efforts by The Queen.
He was joined in his efforts by Mr Houston and Mrs Brundle – but in 2010 the project started to turn sour when Dersingham Parish Council banned them from the site and appointed a task force in their place.
They resumed their role when they felt the task force was not working and that the site was full of weeds and overgrown plants.
Parish council clerk Sarah Bristow wrote to them to say councillors would allow them to continue with maintenance provided they took out insurance but when Mr Ross-Green completed some work to underground water pipes at the memorial last year, a complaint was raised with Norfolk Constabulary.
Do you know anyone who deserves praise for helping to look after a war memorial? Contact reporter Andrew Papworth on 01553 778681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org