A remarkable 11-hour fundraising run by a Melton man has ensured the town’s annual Remembrance Sunday parade can go ahead after police withdrew support for marshaling and managing road closures.
There was a public outcry when the Melton Times reported three weeks ago that members of the Royal British Legion had to raise £800 to hold the event, which honours fallen service personnel from the world wars.
Leicestershire Police said it did not have the resources to help with the parade as it normally did so organisers have had to pay for a professional with the health and safety qualifications required to manage traffic and provide signs for closing roads.
Richard Norton (43), whose wife Emma is the grand-daughter of Melton Poppy Appeal organiser, Jock Bryson, volunteered to run back-to-back marathons on Sunday in a bid to fund this year’s parade.
He hoped to raise around £400 but after the article appeared in the Melton Times, and fueled by subesquent coverage by national newspapers, broadcasters and on social media, he expects now to have raised around £700.
On challenging courses in Telford, Shropshire, Richard ran The Pumpkin Marathon in five hours and 20 minutes and, after just an hour’s rest, he completed The Spooky Halloween Challenge in a similar time.
He said: “It was horrible because a lot of it turned out to be off-road.
“The parade was literally all I was thinking about and it did keep me going.
“Very few people did the double and it was pitch black when I ran the second marathon.”
Richard, who is restaurant manager at the Hammer and Pincers at Wymeswold, added: “I have been gobsmacked by the response to the article appearing in the Melton Times and the willingness of people offering their support.
“One gentleman walked into the legion after reading the story in the paper and left £200 in cash in an envelope for the parade.
“Emotions are clearly running high and the legion has been inundated with people wanting to volunteer as marshals.”
Proceeds for the appeal have been boosted by a bake sale organised by Richard’s wife and a raffle at The Grapes pub. Melton Times readers have also offered to pay the parade costs, which include the need for a PA system because this year’s remembrance service will take place outside in Memorial Gardens with St Mary’s Church still closed for renovation.
Richard added: “If the same situation happens again next year I absolutely would do something like this to raise the money again because the parade is so important to the town.”