Urgent plea for volunteers to save Armed Forces Day

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Organisers are appealing for help with Armed Forces Day, or this year’s will be Lochgilphead’s last.

Lochgilphead Armed Forces Day – the only event of its kind in Argyll and Bute – has been held for nine consecutive years, but organisers say they cannot keep going without more support.

The non-profit-making event, which sees veterans coming together for a day of catch-up and remembrance, is becoming harder to organise with dwindling support.

Chairman of Lochgilphead Armed Forces Day Geordie Rhodick said: ‘We’re devastated. It’s heart-breaking. The ex-servicemen, they just love it.’

At the 2018 event are cadets Gill Agutu, Lochgilphead detachment, and Krystal Allen and Jennifer McMurchy, both from Campbeltown

‘It’s a support network. A casual day for people from all over to just enjoy themselves. There’s a broader spectrum of people getting together from all over. There’s no rank. If you’re a veteran, you’re a veteran.’

Betty Rhodick said: ‘We’ve got supporters on the day, which is very much appreciated, but we need help before and after.’

Specifically, the organisers need help setting up tents the day before, taking them down in the evening and administrative duties throughout the year, which amounts to a day a month of meetings.

Five years ago, Armed Forces Day was calculated to bring in £35,000 for Mid Argyll, with Betty estimating that figure would be closer to £60,000 last year.

She said: ‘Folk come from all over. They bring their caravans and book hotel rooms and eat in our cafes.’

One loyal supporter of the event has been the Mary’s Meal’s shop in Lochgilphead. Manager Marina Campbell said: ‘It is a shame. My husband is ex-forces so I think it’s a great thing. There’s a lot of people around here went to the wars and will be so disappointed.’

One Lochgilphead woman said: ‘I think it’s shocking. After all, none of us would be here if it wasn’t for those who gave their lives. I’m sorry to hear that.’

Naline Swailes of HD Ferguson and Son butchers said: ‘It’s a busy day for everyone. It’s a shame they can’t get anyone to help. It would be a loss for Lochgilphead.’

The unofficial veterans choir belts out the Argylls’ anthem Bonnie Mary o’ Argyll, conducted by Andrew Gibson from Paisley

Mid Argyll councillor Dougie Philand said: ‘Armed Forces Day in Lochgilphead has become a significant event for the town, but also as a means to pay tribute to our armed services who ensure we have a safe democratic country to live in.

‘I appeal to our community to assist in any way to ensure event organisers receive assistance to run the event. It is not asking a lot to give a little of your time to ensure our armed forces are recognised and supported at such events.’

‘Armed Forces Day offers great value to Mid Argyll,’ added fellow Mid Argyll council member Sandy Taylor, ‘in terms an uplift for local business and a major attraction in our local events calendar.

‘We need more events of this scale for Mid Argyll and Lochgilphead in particular.’

Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Betty Rhodick at lochgilpheadrmedforcesday@yahoo.com