Local hero inspires memorial update plan
Dereham’s outpouring of grief for fallen paratrooper Lewis Hendry has inspired a campaign for lost soldiers from recent conflicts to be recognised on the town’s war memorial.
More than 2,000 people packed into Market Place earlier this month to pay their respects to 20-year-old Pte Hendry, who was killed while on patrol in Afghanistan.
There was spontaneous applause as the funeral cortege passed the war memorial, where many floral tributes had been placed in his honour.
The emotional scenes galvanised Royal British Legion (RBL) members into action in their efforts to add a new plaque to the monument to the Dereham dead of the first and second world wars.
It is hoped that this will go on the opposite side to the roll of honour and be in a similar style, allowing space to remember any towns- people killed in wars and conflicts since 1945, including the campaigns in Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The idea still needs the approval of a historic buildings officer at Breckland Council, but a call has already been made for people to start suggesting names that should be included on the roll of honour if the project does go ahead.
Rowland Hall, of Dereham and District branch of the RBL, said: “We don’t know how many names will be on it.
“There has only been one year since 1945 when British servicemen and women have not been killed in conflict, but we don’t know how many of them were born and bred in Dereham.
“It is very important, because these people lost their lives serving their country and somebody should remember them somewhere.
“I have had the idea for quite a long time, but that wonderful turnout at Pte Hendry’s funeral drove me further on.
“It was fantastic: the town did him proud. When you have got someone from your own home-town who was known by so many people, it makes you determined to do something for them.”
Mr Hall said he needed to know the name and service number of suggested soldiers, along with details of the conflict in which they were serving, so he could begin the task of checking their eligibility.
Although Dereham’s war memorial is managed by the RBL, it is owned and maintained by the town council, which has given its full support to the proposed alterations and has offered funding assistance if needed.
Dereham and District RBL is to host a fundraising prize bingo and raffle evening from 7.30pm on Tuesday, March 29 at Toftwood Social Centre in Dereham to celebrate the organisation’s 90th anni- versary.
To suggest names for the proposed new memorial plaque at Dereham, contact Rowland Hall on 01362 637595.