History of Stockport and District Normandy Veterans Association
Stockport and District Normandy Veterans Association was formed in 1988 – 89 by a small group of Normandy Veterans who wanted to establish the NVA in their local area, rather than travelling to Chester. There are memories of an initial meeting in a car park, and the Veterans were offered temporary accommodation for their meetings at Stockport Armoury until a terrorist alert meant, for security reasons, it could no longer be used.
The Veterans turned to Canon Vincent Whelan, priest of Our Lady and The Apostles Church, Shaw Heath, to ask if he could offer them accomodation for their monthly meetings. The response was: Of course you can and Father Vin, as the Veterans call him, became their patron. He explains that his own family background (his father had worked in the Liverpool Docks during the war, experiencingnightly bombing, and Vincent himself was named after an uncle who had died at sea) made him feel an affinity with the Veterans.
He started his involvement by getting on the coach that was travelling to Normandy to bless those travelling to commemorate the Campaign and to remember those who had died in the process and he lightheartedly comments that most of them probably didn’t know who he was or why he was getting on the coach; but they soon would. From that time onwards (1992) Father Vin has accompanied the Veterans as their pastor, delivering commemorative services and offering prayers within the Commonwealth (and German) cemeteries. Whoever Father Vin takes under his wing feels special and nurtured, and this has been the case with the Normandy Veterans. He has come to know them, and their wives, and has established a special relationship. And he has promised that as long as any of them want to return, he will go with them, taking over the burden of arranging the pilgrimage.
Our Lady and The Apostles Church has a special commemorative medal of the 50th anniversary of the Campaign and when the flag was laid up in 2007, it was placed within the church.
Normandy Veterans undertaking community work
(More details to follow)
- Some of the Association on a visit to a local primary school