Veterans invited to Morrisons in Littlehampton for D-Day tribute, including poppies created by the store's knit and natter group

Veterans were invited to Morrisons in Littlehampton this morning to witness a D-Day tribute created by the store's knit and natter group.

Five bollards were decked with individual toppers, designed and knitted by members of the Wednesday group.

Jenny Power embroidered 'Lest We Forget' on a panel and wrote a Remembrance poem for the veterans, who were treated to tea and cake in the café.

Frances Marshall said: "We knew the 'Lest We Forget' panel would be on the central one and then it was about being creative. We have got the form of the toppers because we did some for Christmas, which we kept as a surprise.

"We didn't want them to be the same, we wanted them to be individual because the soldiers were individual. We all come from different areas and different backgrounds and we each created our own thing."

Jenny explained they had included white poppies for civilian casualties, purple poppies for the animals and black poppies for the Black and Asian community.

She said: "With the veterans coming, it reminds me we have become comrades, like a family, and we all support each other. We were very excited, we got in early to set up the bollards."

Among the veterans were a Scots Guard, men from the RAF and Royal Signals, and women who served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

Nancy Bowstead, 102, was a Subaltern, an ATS officer serving with the Royal Artillery. She explained her rank was equivalent to a captain in the army.

Nancy said: "Only I know what went on in World War Two and people write books but they have made it up. I have written my memories on a voice recorder and they are with my granddaughter in Wales. I want them to be published for Blind Veterans."

Nancy has lived with Blind Veterans UK for 15 years and met her late partner Peter Van Zeller there. They made their vows together at the charity's chapel in Ovingdean at the age of 97 but Peter sadly died two years later due to Covid.

Nancy was brought up on a farm in Warrington and was all set to be a farmer's wife, according to her parents' wishes, but that all changed when war broke out just as she was coming up to the age 18.

She joined the ATS at 17 and was commissioned as an officer in 1943. She then served on a gun site in Swansea. Nancy said she had not wanted to be a farmer's wife and the war gave her life a whole new direction.

Lorna Thomas, 93, also served with the ATS, signing up the day after her 17th birthday. She recalled knitting socks for soldiers while at school during the Second World War.

Lorna said: "I can remember knitting grey socks for the boys and it was the first time I had knitted with four needles."

She left home at 15 and went into domestic service. She was desperate to join the Army at 16 but needed her parents' permission and this was refused, so she had to wait.

Lorna said: "I had my 17th birthday on December 22 and I signed up on December 23. I trained as a switchboard operator and went on to decipher messages."

The whole event was organised by community champion Alison Whitburn, who invited residents from Blind Veterans UK in Rustington, members of the Veterans Volunteer Service who meet in the café in Morrisons for a breakfast club and other local veterans.

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