Earby war veterans set to receive ‘freedom of the town’

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Second World War veterans in Earby are set to be given “freedom of the town”, if councillors agree a proposal this evening.

Plans to officially bestow the prestigious honour on the veterans will come before Earby Town Council after being put forward by two members.

Coun. Jim Spence, himself a veteran of the first Gulf War, and Coun. Vera Cocker said they currently know of 10 men and two women in the town who served in the military.

Coun. Spence, who came up with the idea, said: “We’ve been looking at doing this for the past two years and it’s just progressed since then. We thought it would be nice for them to be honoured and get the recognition they deserve, especially with this year being the Jubilee.

“My point of view is that without them we would not have the freedom of speech - we owe them so much.”

Coun. Cocker explained: “This year we are concentrating on these 12 and then we can pick up on those who were worked in civil defence, or those who were involved in the war effort but didn’t necessarily go off to fight.

“Coun. Spence and I started off with the idea of bringing the war memorial up to date, getting it listed and adding the kerb for extra names.

“We wanted to let our Second World War veterans to know how well thought of they are in the town.

“There is some help for soldiers now when they come home from war. When these veterans came home there was nothing for them, and they had to live with their trauma.

“They are such unsung wonderful people, so unassuming, and when you see them on Remembrance Sunday they look so proud.

“When we looked into it, we found out we as a council can grant them the status of freemen.”

If members agree, £1,250 from the council’s reserve funds will be used to complete the project.

Each veteran would be presented with a personally engraved platter at a ceremony as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations on June 3rd at the New Road Community Centre.

Coun. Cocker added: “It will be the second day of Earby’s official events at the New Road Community Centre.

“Earby Brass Band will be playing and the history society is putting on an exhibition. It would be the perfect setting. Peter White, the band’s conductor, bandmaster and composer, will be writing a piece of music to honour the veterans if we get the go-ahead.”

Other town councillors have backed the move. Coun. Morris Horsfield said: “We wouldn’t be here today without them. I can remember when I was at school and the telegrams would be coming in so often to say another soldier had been killed. You don’t forget them things.”

Coun. James Jackman said: “What these men did for our country should never be forgotten and we don’t do enough to thank them for what they did.”

Coun. Cocker appealed for anyone who knows any veterans who live in the Earby ward to get in touch with her on 842653. She also thanked Pete Dawson (84), who has been heavily involved with the proposal.