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Remembrance parade honour for Bungay flag bearer

PUBLISHED: 15:35 11 November 2016

Bungay Royal British Legion standard bearer Barry Williams has been chosen to go to the Royal Albert Hall for the annual Festival of Remembrance.

 PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Bungay Royal British Legion standard bearer Barry Williams has been chosen to go to the Royal Albert Hall for the annual Festival of Remembrance. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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Barry Williams, from Bungay, still remembers marching at Royal Albert Hall in London when he was 14 years old as part of the Boys' Brigade.

Now nearly 50 years later, as a 68-year-old grandfather, he’s returning - but this time with honours. He was chosen as one of only two standard bearers in the Royal British Legion from Suffolk to parade in the Festival of Remembrance on Sunday.

“I go back every year to see the Remembrance, but this will be the first time I’ll be in action as a standard bearer. After all these years I’m returning. It’s truly one hell of a place, it’s a huge honour.

“There are a lot of attachments to the armed forces for me, lately it’s really been bringing me back to my childhood,” he said.

Though Mr Williams never served in the military himself, his father and mother met in the air force during the Second World War. His mother worked in catering and his father was a gunner. Mr Williams has naturally carried a sense of duty with him since and became a member of the Royal British Legion.

“When I retired at 65 from my normal job, I decided to give something back for what these old boys have done for us.

“Those who have given their lives, or have suffered mental problems, they do need support. And it’s not only support for the actual soldier, but for the family and the children. That’s where the Royal British Legion comes in,” he said.

Despite the changing nature of war since the 20th century, Mr Williams is adamant that remembering the sacrifices servicemen and woman have made and supporting them now is as critical as ever.

“During the First World War it was people dying in the trenches, now it’s more technological warfare. There are different types of injuries and different types of weapons.

“There are a lot more people that come back with mental stress or are mentally disturbed. Some of that stuff you see just sticks in your brain and doesn’t go out. We need the RBL more than ever,” he said.

Remembering, he says, is a year-round feat.

“It’s nice to see Bungay is represented in the RBL. Donations are already up at our branch’s poppy appeal tables from last year and people seem to really understand the significance.

“But the poppy appeal is year-round, not just for a fortnight this time of year. The main thing is that people get involved.

“There are little things you can do through the RBL - like going around and visiting older people. A lot of these old boys went through the war and never said anything about it, and now they’re opening up. That hour is worth a lifetime,” he said.

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