A poignant remembrance service spanning generations took place at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday before Wasps' Anglo-Welsh Cup fixture against Newcastle Falcons to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Hundreds of former soldiers and members from the Bedworth Armistice Day committee formed a guard of honour before last weekend’s Anglo-Welsh Cup clash between Wasps and Newcastle Falcons.
They watched on as 11-year-old Jack Brown recited the Royal British Legion’s exhortation in memory of his great grandad Jack Boswell, who was a prisoner of war between 1943 and 1945.
Kevin Bowman, secretary for the Warwickshire branch of Armed Forces charity SSAFA, and Nick Eastwood, chief executive at Wasps, also laid wreaths on the pitch before the last post sounded to mark a minute’s silence.
Wasps held the service as the nation prepares to remember the fallen this coming weekend on Saturday, November 11 as well as on Remembrance Sunday.
It also marks the first of two matches where Wasps are supporting the British Armed Forces, which will include bucket collections for SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity – during their Aviva Premiership clash with Newcastle Falcons at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, November 18 (kick-off 3pm).
Nick Eastwood, chief executive at Wasps, said: “We as a club wanted to pay our respects to those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom that we have today, and we were delighted to see so many veterans and volunteers come together to pay their respects.
“We will be supplying stewards to this weekend’s Bedworth Armistice Day Parade and it was great to see them with us to pay their respects before the game, and the poem recital made the hairs stand up on the back of everyone’s necks.
“It was a privilege to lay a wreath with Kevin, who is a veteran himself. SSAFA do an unbelievable job of providing lifelong care for those who have served in the British Armed Forces.
“They are one of our charity partners for the season as part of the club’s 150th anniversary celebrations, where we will be looking to raise as much money as we can for them, starting with our upcoming Aviva Premiership clash with Newcastle where we will have bucket collectors around the ground.”
Kevin Bowman served in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers between 1985 and 1995 – taking in tours of Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Norway - and has been volunteering with SSAFA for 17 years.
He added: “We rely on donations from the general public to support our veterans and serving personnel and their families.
“We provide support for anything from relationship breakdown, debt and homelessness through to health and social care services and mentoring services - so we are extremely grateful to Wasps for their fundraising commitment.”
To donate to SSAFA and Wasps’ two other official charity partners - Zoe’s Place and Dallaglio RugbyWorks - as part of the club’s 150th anniversary season, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wasps-rugbyclub
Tickets for Wasps vs Newcastle Falcons are available from www.wasps.co.uk starting from £21 for adults, while under-10s go free.