An appeal to raise £75,000 for a stone memorial to honour Second World War paratroopers who were based at Somerby has been boosted by the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire agreeing to become its honorary president.
Jennifer, Lady Gretton DCVO JP, was approached by representatives of Friends of the Tenth as they begin fundraising for the special tribute to the 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, which suffered heavy losses after being airlifted into the Battle of Arnhem in Holland in 1944.
Lady Gretton said: “I feel very honoured to be asked to become president of the Friends of the Tenth, which is an amazingly worthy cause.
“It is only right that we should do all we can to recognise the sacrifices these people made for this country by creating a lasting memorial in the village.
“In my role, I will certainly be encouraging people to support this fundraising, so we can honour this very sad, but incredible, story of their bravery.”
As The Queen’s representative in the county, Lady Gretton’s role encompasses many different duties and responsibilities, one of which is to liaise with local units from the armed forces and their associated cadet forces.
This is a cause close to her heart because as a long-time resident of Somerby, she has been a member of the parochial church council committee since 1991 and served as a church warden of All Saints’ Church from 1992 to 1995.
She is also patron of five Parishes in Leicestershire and Staffordshire, and is patron or president of a wide range of local charities and organisations.
Alec Wilson, chairman of the Friends of the Tenth group, said: “We feel extremely privileged that Lady Gretton has agreed to help us in this way.
“It seemed only natural in the circumstances to ask her to be our president, so we are delighted she has accepted this invitation to join our group.”
He added: “We have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of support which we have already received in the initial stages of our fundraising, and I know that Lady Gretton’s involvement can only give those efforts even more impetus.
“I would like to thank her for pledging that support and also express the group’s gratitude to everyone else helping us with our fundraising mission.”