Countdown to Somme march in final phase

Dromore Branch Standard Bearer Colin Ward who will be heading the team of walkers.

Dromore Branch Standard Bearer Colin Ward who will be heading the team of walkers.

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The countdown to Dromore Royal British Legion’s March to the Somme is entering its final phase.

In just 10 days time a group of legion members and supporters will set off on their journey to mark the centenary of the First World War Battle of the Somme while raising funds at the same time.

Dressed in replicas of period military uniform and led by Skeogh Flute Band, they will set out from Dromore Cathedral at 6.15pm on Friday, June 24.

Their farewell parade and assembly at the local War Memorial will mark the start of a journey from Dromore to the Ulster Tower at Thiepval in France.

In between lies a five-day, 100-mile sponsored march, commemorating the thousands of lives lost during one of the most devastating battles of World War One and raising money for the Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal as well as Macmillan Cancer Support.

Leading the way will be Dromore RBL branch standard-bearer Colin Ward and chairman, Adrian Hawthorne.

Speaking as plans for the march first emerged, Colin said: “We initially came up with the idea a couple of years ago - to march one mile for every year of the centenary, ending at the Ulster Tower in France.

“We will have five walkers and two support drivers.”

Dressed in specially-commissioned replica WW1 army uniforms, the marchers will make their way to London and onward to their start point at Boulogne Harbour.

“They plan on averaging 24 miles per day, reaching the Ulster Tower on 30 June,” said Colin. “We will stop about a mile out and get changed so that we can arrive at the Ulster Tower, appropriately, wearing our WW1 uniforms.”

Lyn Palmer, NI Poppy Appeal Community Fundraising Officer, said of the upcoming fundraising march: “I’m thrilled and grateful that the group has taken on this challenge to raise money for the Poppy Appeal.

“As we mark the various centenaries of the First World War, it is as important as ever to remember the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces, both then and now.”

Donations can be made to the March to The Somme challenge by visiting www.justgiving.com/MarchtotheSommePoppy or by contacting the Dromore RBL branch.