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Memorial bench on The Wharf unveiled in tribute to Newark Patriotic Fund founder John Coles

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A bench has been unveiled in memory of one of the founders of a charity that supports the Newark area’s wounded and mentally-scarred former Servicemen and woman and their families.

As crisp autumnal sunshine bathed surroundings on The Wharf on Friday, John Coles’ children and grandchildren unveiled the bench in his memory.

Watching on was a crowd of more than 60 veterans and members and supporters of the Newark Patriotic Fund, the charity he did so much for, as well as civic representatives from the town and district councils.

John's son Tom, daughter Julia Gulliford and her children George and Oliver at the unveiling of the John Coles memorial bench. (52357736)
John's son Tom, daughter Julia Gulliford and her children George and Oliver at the unveiling of the John Coles memorial bench. (52357736)

A bugler, Alistair Weir, played Last Post in memory of John, a successful businessman and auctioneer who presided over the auctions at the patriotic fund balls, raising thousands of pounds in the process.

Among the family members present were John’s son Tom, his daughter Julia Gulliford, son-in-law Nick and two of their three children, George and Oliver. John’s other son, Mark, was unable to be there.

The bench features artwork depicting both world wars and the wording ‘Lest We Forget’ and ‘We Will Remember Them’.

It has horses and a biplane for the first world war and a Spitfire, tank and a Tommy for the second.

Tom Coles said: “We know how close he held this charity and Newark to his heart. He would be absolutely honoured.”

Julia Gulliford said: “I just want to say thank so much for organising it.”

The chairman of the patriotic fund, Keith Girling, said that he had been contacted by the parents of Corporal Nick Davis who had been airlifted back to the UK after losing a leg in Afghanistan. He was in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham and his parents were struggling to be able to afford the trips down to see and with the accommodation.

He said: “John epitomised the Newark Patriotic Fund and what it stood for.

“John was one of the main reasons the patriotic fund got started.

“John was my neighbour and I and I asked him if anything could be done to help. He said I’ll send them my driver, take them to a hotel and we’ll sort it out afterwards. That’s what started it all off.

“We knew there would be more.

“John had so much love, understanding and advice going forward. He was an amazing chap. I love and miss him dearly.”

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