TAUNTON Town Council is working with West Monkton and Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish Councils to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, honouring the brave men and women who fought for our nation’s freedom on the beaches of Normandy in 1944.

The Mayor will be laying a wreath at the Normandy stone in Vivary Park at 6pm on Thursday, June 6, 2024.

The main event will be held from 4pm at Maidenbrook Country Park and The Somerset Wood (TA2 8JT), within the Cheddon Fitzpaine parish, on the boundary of the three parishes, the future home of the Poppy of Honour, which will be on display at the event.

Entry is free, however, to ensure that a safe capacity is managed, those wishing to attend are encouraged to book free tickets from the Eventbrite website.

Two free shuttle buses will operate regularly leaving from Castle Way from 4pm and the Gateway Park and Ride at Junction 25 of the M5 at 4.30pm, to take visitors to and from the event.

They will run approximately every 30 minutes, with the last bus heading to the event at 9pm. Whilst you are encouraged to leave your car at home, if you do need to drive, parking will be available at the Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, 10-minute walk away.

If you require disabled parking on site, there are limited spaces available, blue badge holders can contact community@westmonktonparishcouncil.gov.uk .

There is something for everyone, with a packed schedule of live music, with classics from Marion Music, Crystal Bliss bringing us Vera Lynn style nostalgia, the ever-popular Military Wives choir and a rousing Kings and Queens medley performed by young people involved in Scouting and Guiding as part of the Taunton Gang Show.

There will be an exhibition of Military vehicles and subject to weather conditions, flyovers from a Spitfire and a Swordfish.

In order to celebrate the peace and freedom given to us through the bravery and sacrifice of those involved in D-Day, beacons will be lit across the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories.

Maidenbrook Country Park and Somerset Wood is home to one these Beacons, which will be lit at 9.15pm.

A firework display, scheduled to run for approximately 10 minutes will start at 9.45pm, bringing the evening to a close.

Councillor Alan Hall of West Monkton Parish Council said: “We are proud to be partnering with our neighbouring parishes to host such an important event. Maidenbrook Country Park and Somerset Wood is the perfect place to bring everyone together to commemorate the sacrifices made 80 years ago to the day.

“The lighting of the beacon is hugely symbolic and it’s an honour to join in with this international undertaking, signifying hope and is a wonderful memory for all of our communities to share.”

Councillor Bev Fernandes, the Armed Forces Champion for Taunton Town Council, said: “We were delighted to be approached by West Monkton Parish Council for support with hosting and funding such a historic event.

“Taunton Town Council and the Mayoralty were a signatory to the Poppy of Honour’s assignment to the Town in November 2023, when the Council also affirmed its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.

“As a military town, making these type of remembrance celebrations as accessible and engaging as possible for our residents is very important.”

Food will be available to purchase from traditional fish and chips to tea and cakes.

A Taunton Town Council spokesperson said: “Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnics, there will be plenty of room to spread out your picnic rug or chairs and soak up the community atmosphere.

“Dogs are welcome; dog owners are asked to keep their four-legged friends on a lead and note that there will be loud noises, particularly during the fireworks finale.

“We are still looking for volunteers to help on the day, if you are interested, please contact info@kevstratton.com as soon as possible.

“Keep an eye on the social media pages of the town and parish councils for more details on the schedule for the event, more information on buses and other helpful pieces of information.

“Don't miss this opportunity to pay tribute to our heroes and learn more about the events that changed the course of World War II at this memorable community event.”