Rallying call to honour Preston veteran

Janet Alton and Jimmy Marsh
Janet Alton and Jimmy Marsh
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The veterans community in Lancashire is rallying to provide a fitting send-off for a former serviceman.

Ernest Eastham – who served in the British Army’s Coldstream Guards – passed away earlier this month at his Lostock Hall home, aged 88.

His neighbour Janet Alton, herself a former Army chef, reached out to the local British Legion for help to provide a military presence at Monday’s funeral.

Janet’s plea was answered by Jimmy Marsh who has organised for several service colleagues to attend the funeral, offering to provide Armed Forces standards in addition to a bugle performance.

The kind-hearted pair have also issued an invitation for other ex-service members to attend the ceremony.

Janet told the Lancashire Post that with just a small number of family and friends expected to attend the funeral, she thought it would be fitting to honour her friend’s military background.

She said: “We were neighbours but over the space of a few years my life started to revolve around Ernie (pictured) because I started cooking for him and looked after him.

“I’m an ex-army chef and he used to say I was the best friend he ever had.

“I thought asking the veterans for help could make the funeral extra special.

“He will have family there and my family will be attending and now I know Jimmy has got a number of veterans to also come along.”

Following Mr Eastham’s death, Janet visited Lostock Hall’s Royal British Legion venue and enlisted Jimmy to drum up some support using his community contacts.

Jimmy, who served in the Scots Guards, told the Lancashire Post: “It’s always a sad occasion when someone who served their country dies without the veterans community knowing about it.

“We often see notices in the newspaper and I’m sure lots of veterans like myself have found themselves thinking ‘I would have gone to the ceremony if I’d known about it’.

“I think we – as the local British Legion group – should make better links with care homes and perhaps that could be a way we work together in the future. I’m sure we could offer support for veterans living there.

“There have been a few occasions in the past few years of veterans with no friends and family having hundreds attend their funerals following appeals.”

The funeral will take place at Preston Crematorium, off Longridge Road, PR2 5BY at 10.45am on Monday, November 27.