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PRIVATE HIRE COMPANY HELPS PRIVATES ON PARADE

A unique partnership which has seen a Solihull private hire coach firm help war veterans attend their local Remembrance service is celebrating its 40th year.

Over the past four decades, LandFlight has transported hundreds of former servicemen from Knowle Royal British Legion club to the annual parade, making life a little easier on such an important day in their calendars.

On Sunday, the 40th free bus will take 20 veterans, aged up to 90, the few miles up the road to the annual parade and service, which commemorates the contribution of servicemen and women in the two world wars and later conflicts.

Former serviceman Gordon Holland, 86, from Knowle, has been using the bus for much of the past decade and is grateful of the help to reach the service he once marched to.

Gordon, who was stationed in Singapore for 14 months during his time as a toolmaker in the Armed Forces, said: “We moved here in 1959 and almost every year since then I have gone to the parade. It’s one of the biggest around with the scouts, brownies and Army cadets there, too.

“I used to march up there but I’ve struggled with my walking for some time now, so it really is a help to me, in particular. It’s very kind of LandFlight to supply us with a bus and I know everyone at the legion is very grateful.”

Ray Warren, 70, is chairman of Knowle British Legion club and said the support of LandFlight helps to make each year’s parade and service go smoothly for members.

He said: “LandFlight, or Silverline as they were in the beginning, started providing free transport for us decades ago. I’m not entirely sure how it came about but when I joined in the 70s they always gave us a lift in a little minibus.

“Now, we can have up to 25 veterans going up to the parade and service, so they are good enough to provide us with a coach. Mr Ali and everyone at LandFlight have been very accommodating and we’ve never had a problem over all the years I’ve been involved. We’re very grateful for their help.

“Here in Knowle, it is one of the best parades I know of outside Bedworth, which is traditionally known as the best in the country. We can have between 400 and 600 veterans on parade and as we walk back to the service there are always up to 300 on the side of the road watching. It fills you with pride and is great to see.”

LandFlight director Danny Matthews is delighted the firm has been able to continue its support of the Legion members. He said: “It’s a pleasure to donate a driver and bus each year. The company had been helping the Legion and its members since long before any of us here were involved, so we’re more than happy to continue the tradition for as long as we are required.”

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