Armed Forces event is finally cancelled

Jamie Short has a go with a gun on display during a previous Armed Forces family fun day in Swindon’s Faringdon Road Park

Jamie Short has a go with a gun on display during a previous Armed Forces family fun day in Swindon’s Faringdon Road Park

First published in News by , Reporter

A FUN DAY due to take place at Faringdon Road Park marking national Armed Forces Day will now not go ahead after organisers failed to meet Swindon Council to discuss health and safety preparations.

The festivities have been blighted since organiser and former soldier Mike Buss was arrested by Wiltshire Police on suspicion of defrauding charity Help for Heroes, on May 8.

Personal trainer Buss, 39, of Highworth, is on bail while the police continue their investigations and he has vowed to clear his name.

He stepped down as organiser and handed over planning for Swindon Armed Forces Day to friends Lewis Barrett and Helen Wright.

So far, they’ve cancelled a golf day, beauty pageant, group abseil and charity dinner, raising funds for Royal British Legion, The Rifles Care for Casualties and Brews And Wets.

The council’s refusal to approve the Faringdon Road Park fun day, planned to take place on June 28, is a huge blow to the one remaining scheduled event.

A Swindon Council spokesperson said: “Swindon Council remains committed to supporting events celebrating the work of our armed forces. However, despite inviting the proposed organiser of Armed Forces Day to meet with the council’s events safety advisory group, they have failed to attend or provide the required event management plan together with safety documentation and evidence of public liability insurance.

“This means that the council, as landowners, cannot on this occasion allow the event to take place in Faringdon Road Park.”

The Adver has been unable to contact Mr Barrett or Ms Wright and it is unknown whether they’ll look to find another venue for the fun day.

Organisers of the annual Old Town Festival have offered to accommodate stallholders and military charities at The Lawn Family Day, also taking place on June 28, to ensure Swindon honours the country’s past and present servicemen on Armed Forces Day.

Trevor Smith, festival chairman, said: “As this year is the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of D-Day we are determined to make sure Armed Forces Day was marked in Swindon. As the event is only a few weeks away we are quite full with stalls, so are limited to what we can offer, but we’ll try our best to mark the occasion the best we can.”

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland has been working on the plans for Armed Forces Day to have a presence at the Lawn Family Day.

He said: “There is tremendous good will to the armed forces in this town and that has been clearly demonstrated in recent weeks as we’ve tried put a contingency plan together. Time has been short so Armed Forces Day will not be as big as planned this year but bearing in mind the circumstances this is a good option.”

But Alan Baker, Swindon’s Royal British Legion chairman, is upset a dedicated Armed Forces event is not going ahead.

“I’m bitterly disappointed that it has not been put on as planned and I would have thought that we could have taken on the fun day and still done it down in the park,” he said.

Anyone wishing to be part of Armed Forces Day can call Trevor 07864 035692.

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