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Locals donate over £3000 towards March Armed Forces Fair



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Plans for a one-off special event later this year to bring together groups and organisations with links to the Armed Forces has been gathering not only momentum but also donations in recent weeks.

In May last year Lt Col Nigel 'Spence' Spencer, who is well-known in March for his organisation of the town's annual Remembrance events,announced plans for the March Armed Forces Fair.

The move came after news the Armed Forces Covenant had a 'start up' fund for people interested in setting up an armed forces organisations. But it was agreed this area was already well-served with groups.

The team and supporters from left: MAFF media officer, Gemma Offer of Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force; MAFF Officer in Charge Lt Col Nigel 'Spence'; Spencer; Councillor Jan French from March Town Council; Kevin McCourt, owner of Cassanos; March mayor Councillor Kim French; MAFF second in command Mark Wilding of the Royal British Legion; John Witt, local businessman and MAAF supporter and MAFF lead steward, Lt Col Warren 'Dougie' Douglas of the Royal British Legion. (55515877)
The team and supporters from left: MAFF media officer, Gemma Offer of Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force; MAFF Officer in Charge Lt Col Nigel 'Spence'; Spencer; Councillor Jan French from March Town Council; Kevin McCourt, owner of Cassanos; March mayor Councillor Kim French; MAFF second in command Mark Wilding of the Royal British Legion; John Witt, local businessman and MAAF supporter and MAFF lead steward, Lt Col Warren 'Dougie' Douglas of the Royal British Legion. (55515877)

So instead Spence, who until 2020 was the longest service soldier in the British Army, and who is still a reservist, came up with the Armed Forces Fair idea - the aim is publicise the various organisations available to former, current and future personnel.

He is being aided in the ambitious project by his former Army colleague Mark Wilding, who has acted as Spence's right-hand man in organising the Remembrance Day event for the past six years.

The event, which is being held on Sunday September 4 from 12pm to 6pm on West End Park, is open to anyone interested in finding out more about the armed services and the various organisations there are locally.

From left: Lt Col Warren 'Dougie' Douglas of the Royal British Legion; Kevin McCourt; MAFF Officer in Charge Lt Col Nigel 'Spence'; Spencer; March mayor and MAFF second in command Mark Wilding of the Royal British Legion. (55515886)
From left: Lt Col Warren 'Dougie' Douglas of the Royal British Legion; Kevin McCourt; MAFF Officer in Charge Lt Col Nigel 'Spence'; Spencer; March mayor and MAFF second in command Mark Wilding of the Royal British Legion. (55515886)

So far Spence has been inundated with enquiries from groups and organisations keen to take part in the free, one-off event.

A successful bid to the Armed Forces Covenant resulted in £1,500 being given towards the cost of staging the event.

The aim is not to raise money but to put the event on without any extra cost - if there is any money left after the fair then that will be used towards a Remembrance Bench for the town centre.

From left: Lt Col Warren 'Dougie'; Douglas of the Royal British Legion; town councillor Jan French; MAFF Officer in Charge Lt Col Nigel 'Spence'; Spencer; March mayor Kim French and MAFF second in command Mark Wilding of the Royal British Legion. (55515880)
From left: Lt Col Warren 'Dougie'; Douglas of the Royal British Legion; town councillor Jan French; MAFF Officer in Charge Lt Col Nigel 'Spence'; Spencer; March mayor Kim French and MAFF second in command Mark Wilding of the Royal British Legion. (55515880)

On Thursday March 10 MAFF organisers, supporters and guests, who joined together for the first stewards' overview briefing and also a presentation of donations ceremony at Cassanos in High Street.

Armed with Bratty’s (Bratwurst Hotdog’s) everyone had the opportunity to understand the thoughts behind MAFF, meet the team organising and delivering the fair and have a social get together.

As part of the presentation ceremony, the Mayor of March, Councillor Kim French presented a cheque for £1,000 from March Town Council along with a donation of £500 from the March Mayor's Fund.

From left: Lt Col Warren 'Dougie' Douglas of the Royal British Legion; Kevin McCourt; MAFF Officer in Charge Lt Col Nigel 'Spence'; Spencer and MAFF second in command Mark Wilding of the Royal British Legion. (55515889)
From left: Lt Col Warren 'Dougie' Douglas of the Royal British Legion; Kevin McCourt; MAFF Officer in Charge Lt Col Nigel 'Spence'; Spencer and MAFF second in command Mark Wilding of the Royal British Legion. (55515889)

Cassanos owner Kevin McCourt presented a donation of £1,000 and local businessman John Witt also presented a donation of £1,000.

With at least 12 armed forces organisations including the Royal British Legion, local cadet forces and Armed Forces social groups; 17 armed forces support organisations including SSAFA and various Armed Forces charities; two bands including March Brass 2000 and Ely Military Band; 12 recruiting teams including the Royal Engineers and the Royal Armoured Corps; 24 static displays including WW1, WW2 and various military vehicles along with two bars, six food stalls including afternoon teas and hog roast the fair promises there will be something for everyone.

But organisers would still love to hear from anyone that wants to get involved - Armed Forces organisations? People with a military vehicle they would like to show? Re-enactment groups? People with trade stands they think would fit right in? A veteran with a business or people just wanting to help make this event happen - all would be welcome.

To sign up visit the March Armed Forces Fair Facebook page.



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