A local group aiming to unite Swindon’s Remain support shunned the town’s pro-Brexit event at the weekend to join the thousands of others marching in London’s anti-Brexit rally.

Members of the recently founded Swindon for Europe said that they will organise events in the town, but on this occasion felt that they would make a bigger impact as part of the larger demonstrations in the capital.

Steve Rouse, a retired dance teacher and the founder of Swindon for Europe, said: “I thought it was very good, very encouraging. 40-50,000 ordinary people like you and me with kids and jobs, refusing to be cowed and silenced.

“They were very keen to show that we are still here, that we haven’t shut up and gone away, that we haven’t accepted it.

“We still think it’s crazy and daft, and we want our MPs to listen.”

As well as joining the march, Steve also took part in handing out EU flags to members of the audience at Saturday’s last night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall.

He remains clear that the group also need to tackle the issue closer to home, but felt that Saturday’s pro-Brexit march was the wrong time. He said: “We were aware that the leavers were doing a march in support of Brexit with one or two quite reactionary speakers, whose rhetoric I find quite alarming.

“We decided not to be distracted from the big national event. We will organise some sort of demonstration in Swindon at some point in the future, but we thought we’d have more impact on the national march to parliament.”

Among other members of Swindon for Europe to make the journey to the capital was Fareed Quidwai, who was similarly positive about the day.

He said: “It was actually a great experience. I wasn’t expecting there to be such a good turnout. It was phenomenal to see so many people from different backgrounds.

“We marched peacefully, and there were no issues. People were very civilised and there was no trouble-making. I was uplifted by this; before I thought maybe it would be a waste of a day, but it was worthwhile.”

The group plans to have a presence at a number of other rallies in coming months, including at the Tory conference in Manchester in October, and at a regional pro-EU march in Bristol later in the same month.

Fareed emphasised that he continued to feel that not leaving the EU was an option. He said: “I strongly believe that we may have lost the battle, but the war still could be won if we mobilise people, if we take to the street.

“Rights are never given to you on a plate, you have to fight for your rights, you have to struggle.

“Swindon has to struggle, and has to realise that you can’t take it lightly – just because some people lied to us, we don’t have to take it – it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.”