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‘I can’t ever forget’: Islington remembers victims of war and terror

PUBLISHED: 11:53 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:59 13 November 2017

Islington's 2017 Remembrance parade in Upper Street. Picture: Rhiannon Long

Islington's 2017 Remembrance parade in Upper Street. Picture: Rhiannon Long

Archant

Hundreds gathered in Islington yesterday morning to remember those who died fighting for our country.

It’s been a year in which debate about wearing the poppy has sounded louder than ever. But hundreds of Islingtonians turned out to watch the laying of the wreaths.

The procession began outside Union Chapel, before parading down to the Islington Green war memorial. David Dade, premier marshall of the parade and organiser of Islington’s Poppy Appeal, said: “Our mayor and borough are really up on having a parade, and putting a lot of effort into it.”

Veterans George Watkins, 94, and Kenneth Watts, 93, attended the service together.

Mr Watts fought on Gold Beach on D-Day, and was brought back to hospital in Glasgow after being wounded on the last day of June 1944.

Islington's 2017 Remembrance parade in Upper Street. Picture: Rhiannon LongIslington's 2017 Remembrance parade in Upper Street. Picture: Rhiannon Long

Asked on how much he remembered of the event, he replied: “I can’t ever forget.”

Despite having suffered frostbite in the winter of 1944-45, when temperatures were well below zero, he still praised today’s turnout in the cold weather: “More people have turned out this year than I’ve ever seen before – even though it’s so cold!”

The service paid tribute not only to the 9,400 men from Islington and Finsbury (the two were separate boroughs until 1965) who died fighting in the two World Wars, but also to soldiers who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A special mention was also given to the victims of terror attacks in London and Manchester, including the 30 people from Islington who died in the 7/7 bombings.

Islington's 2017 Remembrance parade approaches the Islington Green war memorial. Picture: Rhiannon LongIslington's 2017 Remembrance parade approaches the Islington Green war memorial. Picture: Rhiannon Long

Cllr Claudia Webbe, a senior member of Islington Council, said after the ceremony: “I have hope the vast number of young people present today, all of whom have never been alive in the times of the two World Wars, will never have to know what these people went through.

“Days like this are a lesson and I think this is symbolic in the many who have turned out in uniform.

“I’m sure we can make a world where the young people here will get to live in peace, in a world without wars.”

There were also Remembrance services at the Spa Green Memorial in Rosebery Avenue and Royal Northern Gardens in Manor Gardens, Holloway.

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