VIPs present for annual meeting in Lowestoft
ONE is a familiar face from film and small screen; the other a descendant of one of our greatest war heroes.
But last week, they were both among the distinguished guests at a gathering in Lowestoft.
The Lord Kitchener Memorial Holiday Centre, in Kirkley Cliff Road welcomed its patron, the Rt Hon the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum, and actor and playwright Julian Fellowes as it hosted its annual meeting.
Lord Kitchener is the great nephew of the first Earl Kitchener who is known as 'the finest soldier Britain ever produced' for his success as commander in chief of the army in Egypt 1892. After crushing the separatist Sudanese forces in the Battle of Omdurman he occupied the nearby city of Khartoum and became a national hero.
The present Lord Kitchener is now 92 years old and was accompanied on his visit to Lowestoft last Friday by his niece and her husband Lord and Lady Fellowes of West Stafford. The couple are better known as the actor and playwright Julian Fellowes, of Downton Abbey fame, and his wife Emma.
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Michael Sims, a trustee of the charity which runs the centre, said: 'Everyone was delighted Lord Kitchener was able to come along. The centre has been providing support to servicemen and women for more than 90 years, and its importance and relevance today was recognised by the number of distinguished guests attending the meeting.'
The centre is one of a number across the country, set up in memory of the first Earl Kitchener.
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When the first world war broke out in 1914, the Earl was appointed to the cabinet as secretary of state for war and he became famous after his face was featured on the recruitment poster with the slogan 'Your Country Need You'.
He lost his life in 1916, when, on his way to Russia on the cruiser Hampshire, it was sunk west of the Orkneys.
Following his death there were many memorial projects begun, including a convalescent centre in Lowestoft. After the purchase and refurbishment of the building, the centre opened in 1919 and has been looking after ex-service visitors ever since, nowadays providing subsidised holidays for former servicemen and women and their partners.
The guest speaker at last week's annual meeting was Colonel Neale Moss, of 16 Air Assault Brigade, based at Wattsham, near Ipswich. Other guests included Waveney MP Peter Aldous, the chairman of Waveney District Council, Peter Collecott, and Lowestoft Mayor Tod Sullivan.
Mr Sims praised the work of the centre's staff and volunteers in making it a success. 'We have some wonderful volunteers but will always welcome inquiries from people who want to help,' he said.
l The Lord Kitchener Memorial Holiday Centre welcomes inquiries from potential volunteers or management committee members. For information, visit www.kitchener.lowestoft.org.uk or email email@example.com