Dereham Town Council’s apology over hero’s memento
10:47 27 March 2014
Archant © 2011
A descendent of a World War Two soldier has spoken of her dismay after the story of her grandfather’s wartime heroics was removed from a town centre venue.
Faye LeBon first discovered the montage, featuring photos and memoirs of her grandfather George Hand, had been removed from Dereham’s Memorial Hall when she was told by a stranger.
It had been on display since the town council launched its Heroes project as part of the art venue’s £2.6m renovation in 2011.
Dereham Town Council has since apologised to Mrs LeBon for taking down the commemorative montage and removing it from its frame without her permission.
Now, it is hoped this episode will jumpstart a more concerted effort to display the town’s wartime memories.
Mrs LeBon’s grandfather, who died on October 15, 1995, lived in Sandy Lane and was born and bred in Dereham.
Before joining the war effort in June 1940, he worked as a Co-op grocery assistant, but by the end of the conflict he had become Sgt Major in the 1st/4th Essex Regiment, based at Warley near Brentwood. After six years in the army he returned to his family in Dereham.
Mrs LeBon, 38, from Humbletoft Road, Dereham, said: “When I got involved in the Heroes project, I was advised that many stories were being collected and all were going to be displayed in the hall at different times, being rotated in the hall on a regular basis. This made perfect sense.
“A gentleman called me to advise he had salvaged my grandfather’s story. By all accounts they were being taken out of their frames so the frames could be re-used and the contents discarded.
“Dereham Town Council has shown complete disregard for one of the town’s war heroes and his family when all they needed to do was make a quick phone call.”
Mrs LeBon, who made a complaint to Dereham Town Council via Facebook, said she had since received an apology from one of the town councillors and that she has been reunited with the display.
She said she was told that the council is hoping to find another means of exhibiting the stories of the town’s war heroes.
“I’ve had an apology which I very much appreciate and I’m very pleased that I’ve got my grandfather’s picture back and that it’s not going to be stored in a cupboard at the Memorial Hall,” said Mrs LeBon. “Hopefully a positive can come out of this and it will jumpstart the project.”
The story of Mrs LeBon’s grandfather was displayed at the front of the Memorial Hall, in Norwich Street, which was officially re-opened on December 4, 2011.
Phillip Duigan, town councillor, said he had called Mrs LeBon to apologise for the “misunderstanding” and that there were plans afoot to reinvigorate the project with support from Dereham’s Antiquarian Society.
He said: “It was not a deliberate act of disrespect by the town council.
“We’re on the case. The Antiquarian Society is taking over the top floor at the town council and there are plans to enhance the displays with digitalised background information on an iPad or something similar. It’s getting sorted and hopefully we will get some of the frames back up over the next couple of weeks.”