TAVISTOCK Royal British Legion chairman Chris Smerdon has hailed this weekend’s Remembrance Day parade as a step towards normality following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The branch’s efforts to stage a full-blown event have been thwarted over the past two years by either pandemic restrictions or a fence around the town’s memorial while extensive work at the Guildhall has been carried out.

Mr Smerdon said, however, that as far as was possible, a full Remembrance Day event would be going on this Sunday despite some Covid-friendly precautions being in place around the country.

He said: ’At the moment, we have crowds of 16,000 people going to see Plymouth Argyle and as we are holding the event in the open air, we couldn’t see that there would be any problems.

’I feel it (the parade) is one more step towards normality, where all over the country, communities will be gathering together and everything will stop at 11am for a two-minute silence.’

Mr Smerdon praised Tavistock Town Council for their permission to hold the solemn ceremony commemorating the dead of the First World War and conflicts since then at the Guildhall car park, which has recently been relaid. Work in the area has also included the revamping of the space where the town’s war memorial stands.

The 20-minute event is expected to attract a large crowd, with marching contingents including members of the Legion, local organisations and schoolchildren, who are expected to muster in nearby Russell Street before they make their way to the Guildhall.

Members of Tavistock’s Lions Club will also be helping with road closures so the procession can march safely through the town.

The Legion and groups and organisations through the town, including mayor Andy Hutton, will be laying wreaths at the memorial.

Mr Smerdon has already asked for a ’little understanding’ from members of the public as the layout for the event has been changed and they will be trying to fit everybody who attends into the new area.

The Royal British Legion have agreed that this year’s Poppy Appeal to raise money for service people and their dependants will be as normal as possible, said Mr Smerdon.

This will include street collections, although he pointed out there was limited stock this year this year as it was imported from China.