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Leader of South Kesteven District Council, Kelham Cooke, pays respects to those who have served the country

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With November’s arrival, and the first chills of winter, we welcome an important period of remembrance for our district and our country – as we pay respects to our armed forces and those who have served our country in some of its darkest moments, writes leader of South Kesteven District Council, Kelham Cooke.

In South Kesteven, we have a proud and strong military heritage – whether through our unique position as a launch point for operations in the Second World War or being home to prominent figures like Charles Sharp – who received the Victoria Cross in the First World War and served in our Home Guard during the Second World War. Today, his Victoria Cross rests proudly in the civic suite of our council.

This heritage is not just historic – we are proud of the initiatives and support we provide today to our military veterans, because the difficulties and sacrifices of our military personnel do not always end upon retirement.

SKDC leader Kelham Cooke attending the opening of the Heroes Orchard in Grantham
SKDC leader Kelham Cooke attending the opening of the Heroes Orchard in Grantham

We signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant last year, a vow we have taken to ensure our armed forces community are not at a disadvantage when accessing employment, services or support. Today, our council enforcement, CCTV monitoring, senior project management and markets teams all include service veterans who put their valuable skills to good use serving our community.

This month I was also proud to attend the official opening of the Heroes Commemorative Orchard in Wyndham Park, Grantham. Seventy-five heritage variety apple, plum and cherry trees were planted last year to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and our local links to D-Day and Arnhem.

At great risk, our armed forces have protected the freedoms we enjoy today. Another person committed to such freedoms was Sir David Amess – who lost his life in a terrible attack this month – and I would like to take this chance to remember him.

David represented the best principles of community and political leadership – proven by his long career as an MP for Basildon and later Southend West. The many tributes and stories that have emerged since his passing – telling of his care, compassion and kindness – are a testament to his commitment to his community above all else. He will be deeply missed, and my thoughts, and those of our council, are with his family.

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